Bracing for a post-smartphone eraApple’s iPhone was a game changer in the mobile industry. Local phone makers could not predict the sweeping changes the iPhone, and smartphones in general, would bring. Samsung Electronics tried to catch up with its own version, but it was snubbed as a cheap copycat. It restored its reputation through the Galaxy series. One-time industry leader Nokia was sold off in 2013 because it lost out to the smartphone competition.
Artificial intelligence and robotics are the stars of this year’s CES event in Las Vegas. Korea Inc. must not repeat the smartphone folly in the new tech sector that could shape the future of ICT based on big data and the Internet of Things. Google’s AlphaGo, which beat Korean champion Lee Se-dol last year, has crushed Go champions in Korea, China, and Japan to achieve a streak of 60 wins. Deep-learning machines are evolving fast, but Korea’s levels do not even match those of Japan and China not to mention Google’s.
The contest with AI and robotics would not only be against multinational names, but also versus Chinese companies. Chinese enterprises like Alibaba, Baidu, Xiomi, and Huawei commanded huge space at CES to flaunt their latest advances in the fields of AI, augmented reality, and robotics.
China is out to become a leader instead of a chaser. We must look beyond smartphones, which have reached a point of saturation and maturity. A number of varied industries are possible in the fields of ICT, bioengineering, and nanotechnology based on big data-led learning computing systems. The future of Korean large- and small-businesses hinges on the new industries.
The government must remove all necessary regulatory hurdles and aid in the job sector that may be replaced by machines one day.
JoongAng Ilbo, Jan. 6, Page 30