KT to invest W300 billion to strengthen its AI business

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KT to invest W300 billion to strengthen its AI business

Mobile carrier KT will invest 300 billion won ($270 million) on artificial intelligence (AI) over the next four years as it looks to expand the use of the technology in a broad range of services, including cars, hotels and apartments.

“KT believes AI is a critical call in this era,” said Lee Pil-jae, vice president of KT, at a press event held in central Seoul on Wednesday. “AI could function as a crucial stepping stone for KT to rise and expand globally.”

KT unveiled GiGA Genie, its AI-powered smart speaker system, in January 2017.

The mobile carrier revealed its plan two days after President Moon Jae-in on Monday promised a government drive to promote AI at Naver’s Deview 2019 conference held in southern Seoul. Moon promised to roll out a “national AI strategy” this year.

KT said it plans to export AI technology. In November, it will trial its AI technology at a hotel in Cebu in the Philippines. KT said it plans to expand its offering to elsewhere in Asia and the Middle East.

The carrier will also look to supply its AI service in other industries, including in factories, security, energy and customer services. Operators will be able to raise the efficiency and safety of smart factory operations by combining AI with other technologies like its 5G network, big data and intelligent image analysis, according to KT.

For future generations, the telecommunications company said it will provide education on coding as part of its corporate social responsibility to create new AI experts. Its goal is to train more than 5,000 students by 2020.

The carrier hopes to expand the number of AI devices using its Genie system to 100 million by 2025.

KT plans to offer a range of services that can help people’s daily routines. For instance, the AI speaker will be able to mimic the voice of somebody reading a sentence from a book. Busy parents will be able to use this technology to enable the AI speaker to read their children bedtime stories in English that sounds like their voices. Also, instead of answering simple questions, future AI speakers will be able to respond to emotional remarks like “I feel nervous.”

KT said such services will start to become available in six months.

KT’s ambitions include expanding partnerships with construction firms and hotels to enable residents or guests to control furniture or devices without physically interacting with them.

“AI could raise the competitiveness of various industries and platforms, including mobile, internet and television,” said Lee. “It will help boost the competitiveness of KT and will function as one of the key technologies that ensures success.”

BY JIN MIN-JI [jin.minji@joongang.co.kr]
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