Today’s technology is the foundation for future technologies, and every emerging technology creates new business opportunities. Oftentimes, technologies become more useful when combined. For example, see what happened when we put together the connectivity of the internet, the power of PCs and the mobility of smartphones. On Lee specially for The Jakarta Post.
Artificial Intelligence (AI) is one of the latest technologies to emerge for the past few years. The recent breakthroughs in AI follow patterns similar to the PC, the internet and smartphone evolutions, which all started as niche areas and eventually became general-purpose technologies.
Some experts have said that AI is as important as the discovery of fire and electricity. Although that may seem like an exaggeration, the point is that AI is going to be one of the most important technologies humanity will ever invent, leaving a deep impact on society and business in a profound way. It will likely be in a class by itself. It is going to be part of our personal lives, across virtually all industries.
McKinsey predicts AI has the potential to deliver additional global economic activity of around US$13 trillion by 2030. Yes, that’s $13 trillion with a capital T. There have been accumulated investments of over $300 billion in AI; the largest exit was $15 billion as of July 2019, according to Pitchbook.com.
The Group of 20 and other countries have shared publicly that AI is one of their major initiatives because it is a strategic tool for advanced civilian and military applications. The Indonesian government has declared AI as one of the strategic technologies of its “Making Indonesia 4.0” roadmap, as part of the fourth industrial revolution.
Moreover, many global companies have successfully demonstrated how AI has helped their business thrive by reinventing their existing products, creating new products and entering new markets. AI accelerates the growth and exponentially amplifies their technological expertise in PCs, the internet and smartphones.
AI represents a golden opportunity for Indonesia, with a relatively young and vibrant population of over 260 million people. The country boasts a median age of 30 and a literacy rate of 95 percent. Indonesian AI start-ups are primed and ready to follow in the footsteps of their counterparts from other Asian countries like Japan, India, Taiwan, Korea and China, which have been successfully transforming their countries through technology. They have significantly improved people’s skills, standard of living and productivity and have been recognized as key global players in the world.
An interesting attribute to AI software relative to other recent technologies is that it requires a significant amount of internationalization and localization in order to attain optimum results for each country. The internationalization technique enables the software to be adapted to various languages and regions easily. Localization enables the internationalized software to be adapted in a specific language and convention for each country. For example, Indonesia and United States display dates in different languages and formats and an AI model trained to recognize dates in the US may not immediately understand dates in Indonesian documents.
Unlike traditional software, AI depends heavily on data – especially local data. For example, politicians, celebrities, laws, accents, streets, language, dialects, spelling, abbreviations, slang, pictures, license plates and street signs will all differ from country to country. Such differences require a bespoke solution in each country; what works for the US and China won’t work at all for Indonesia.
There has been a growing number of Indonesian AI start-up companies that focus on developing AI-powered products and services based on AI technology. They develop products that touch all facets of everyday life, allowing you to unlock your account using your voice; convert images of receipts into digital text; recommendation systems to recommend products you may like; sentiment analysis for social media; chatbots for customer support and more. Many of these technologies are highly localized and specific to Indonesian customs and culture. They work across a wide swath of industries such as banking, insurance, health care, e-commerce, agriculture and manufacturing.
They are helping Indonesian companies improve their customer experience, reduce cost, drive growth, meet customer demand and stay competitive with international competitors. They contribute to building up Indonesia’s natural resources, services and the digital economy.
These local AI start-ups are funded by Indonesian investors. They are based in Indonesia, all employees are Indonesians, and everyone works in Indonesia.
In summary, AI start-ups made in Indonesia by Indonesians for Indonesians have a special role in helping “Make Indonesia 4.0”. Indonesians should be proud to be able to create AI start-up companies based on one of the most advanced emerging technologies in the world.
We have risen to the occasion. AI will help accelerate the Indonesian economy’s growth and position us well for the future of a new world before us.
On Lee has over 30 years of experience in technology. He has built teams in the United States, Indonesia, China and India and is a board member of several AI start-up companies.