Government hires U.S. firm to study AI impact on Thailand

With digital disruption upending industries and economies the world over, the Thai government has hired United States-based Frost & Sullivan to conduct a study on the impacts of artificial intelligence (AI) on Thailand’s business and economy in coming years.

The global consultant will complete its preliminary study in July. Early indications are that the consultant believes AI will have a strong disruptive effect on the Thai economy but that on the whole, it will be positive, contributing to making the Kingdom more competitive.

Frost & Sullivan has said that AI in Thailand can be used most effectively in cybersecurity, with intelligence based on self-learning algorithms that enable security solution providers to identify cyber threats and prevention.

The Digital Economy Promotion Agency (DEPA) is the commissioning agency for the study. DEPA’s ambition is to make Thailand the Internet of Things (IoT) hub of Asia within five years. Founded in 2017, the agency also disburses grants to promising digital and AI startups.

Tanapong Ittisakulchai, an executive with Microsoft Thailand, said that by 2021, product and services derived from digital transformation would account for 40 percent of Thailand’s gross domestic product (GDP).

“AI is influencing every industry including healthcare, manufacturing, retail, financial services, education, and even government,” Tanapong said.

Rapid change can cause concern, however, especially among workers who fear robots will replace them.

“People probably started to become aware of AI from Siri, a human language personal assistant on smartphones, but they might not know what else AI can do,” said Oranuch Lerdsuwankij, chief executive officer of Techsauce Media, the organizer of the Techsauce Global Summit, a conference of digital startup entrepreneurs and experts held recently in Bangkok.

“They might not know the real meaning of other related terms such as Data Science, Machine Learning, Big Data, and Data Analysis. So this year there has been much discussion over what lies ahead for AI,” Oranuch said.