Artificial intelligence is shaking up traditional industries all over the world. To ride the wave, Taiwan’s Ministry of Science and Technology (MOST) is working closely with Microsoft to set up a NTD1 billion (US$33 million) artificial intelligence R&D hub in the country.

The centre will provide “the right environment to push forward with AI” in a country that is already a “world-leading manufacturing hub”, according to Ken Sun, General Manager of Microsoft Taiwan. Microsoft hopes to “democratise AI” so that it can benefit everyone in an organisation, regardless of skill or level, Sun added.

According to David Ku, Corporate Vice President at Microsoft and Chief Technology Officer of Microsoft’s AI and Research Group, the centre will employ a research team of 100 over the next two years, doubling to 200 within five years

Taiwan’s Premier William Lai said the centre would boost the island’s industrial transformation efforts, adding that the government would invest a total of NTD16 billion (USD 540 million) over the next five years in AI research. “This will allow us to build a smart economy and envision a better environment for people,” he said.

And late last year, the MOST pledged to invest NT$4 billion (US$133 million) over the next four years to cultivate a talent pool for AI technology development in Taiwan.

Other countries that see the transformative potential of AI include Japan. Tokyo is trialling an AI solution to help officials cope with increasing numbers of benefit claims in nursing care.

Elsewhere, Moscow is developing AI tools that can help doctors diagnose cancer; help residents find new homes; and assess applications for government services and support.

Hong Kong, on the other hand, wants to use AI to help predict the risk of landslides, which could prevent loss of life. And just last year, the UAE appointed the world’s first Minister for Artificial Intelligence, and at the same time, announced a new portfolio of Advanced Skills to prep citizens for future jobs.

To support governments in their efforts to harness this technology, Microsoft wants to make it so that every individual and organisation can apply AI and benefit from its capabilities, according to Brad Smith, President and Chief Legal Officer of Microsoft. “Our approach as a company is focused on democratising AI, so its features and capabilities can be put to use by individuals and organisations around the world to improve real-world outcomes.”

Image by 中岑 范姜CC BY 2.0