A shock to the AI system
The author is the head of the second industrial team of the JoongAng Ilbo.
In terms of size and number, the winners and losers of this game seems to have already been determined. This is the battle to secure an artificial intelligence (AI) talent pool.
At the moment, Korea and Japan are losing. According to a Tsinghua University AI development report published last year, China has 18,232 AI specialists, second after the United States, with 28,536. Korea has 2,664, 15th among the 15 major countries. Japan was the 14th, with 3,117.
Japan nervously presented a government-level plan last month. While it is uncertain how feasible it is, the goal is grand. A governmental innovative strategy committee announced that it will annually train 250,000 specialists who can handle AI. According to Japan’s Nikkei Shimbun, the number, 250,000, is the total of all college students majoring in engineering and health care —180,000 — plus 15 percent of liberal arts major, or 70,000. The government plans to demand colleges and universities offer an AI introduction course for all students regardless of their major. So Japan wants to train 500,000 people in the basics of AI.
The Korean government is not idle either. The Ministry of Science and ICT announced a plan to train 10,000 data and AI specialists by 2023. However, the ministry’s plan for 10,000 is referred to as 1,000 in another ministry’s report. More specifically, KAIST, Korea University and Sungkyunkwan University are opening AI graduate programs this fall. Each school will admit 50 to 60 students in master’s and doctorate programs, securing about 180 specialists. AI graduate schools will be expanded, and there is a plan for the Innovative Academy, Seoul’s version of software training institute Ecole 45.
According to China’s Science and Technology Daily and Hong Kong’s Ming Pao, the Chinese Education Ministry certified 35 universities for the opening of AI programs awarding bachelor’s degree in engineering. There are more than 100 programs, including related majors. Some 101 universities will offer robotics courses and 203 will offer big data courses. 25 universities establish big data management and application departments.
Korea is already at the bottom, and the plan is behind in terms of scale and specifics. I cannot over-emphasize the importance of AI specialists. As Internet of Things and big data dominate daily lives, AI and big data analyses are necessary in all industrial sectors, including manufacturing.
A drastic change to shock the education system into moving beyond the current plan seems necessary.
JoongAng Ilbo, April 17, Page 29