Govt to form a policy on data and AI next year

By DASHVEENJIT KAUR / Pic By MUHD AMIN NAHARUL

THE government is expected to implement a National Data and Artificial Intelligence (AI) Policy by mid-2020, a timely move to complement the upcoming National Artificial Intelligence Framework.

Communications and Multimedia Minister Gobind Singh Deo said his ministry would be looking at presenting the drafted policy paper to the Cabinet after the framework is finalised by year-end.

“While we are not committing to a definite timeline, I am sure to be the one advocating this policy soon after Malaysia Digital Economy Corp (MDEC) presents its AI framework,” he told reporters at the sidelines of the Next Big Tech Asia 2019 conference held in Kuala Lumpur yesterday.

Gobind said it is currently his ministry’s priority to ensure there is proper policy recognised by the government — to be used on different aspects of AI.

“Once the policy is formed, only then we can focus on making Malaysia a hub in South-East Asia to groom AI talent, and support efforts to build a commercial AI ecosystem.

“AI not only to helps us do things better, faster and more efficiently, we must recognise the multiple functions of AI to begin to understand its complexity,” he added.

Asked if the policy is in line with the AI framework by MDEC, Gobind emphasised that it complements each other.

What is more important, he said, is to have the government’s policy in recognising the sector.

“Once the framework is ready, I will look into it and then we will decide to what extent we intend to push the government policy of AI,” he added.

According to a recent study by the International Data Corp, the Big Data and analytics software market in Malaysia is forecasted to reach RM595 million by 2021.

“This represents a key opportunity for Malaysia, and it is important that we build the necessary data and AI capabilities to ensure that our industries, government and people can take advantage of the opportunities data and AI have to offer,” said Gobind.

He added that the growth of AI would require big data capabilities and what has been categorised as privacy preservation technologies would be critical for the continued capitalisation of data.

“Increasingly, we need privacy solutions that can enable data integration across organisational boundaries. We also need more secure solutions, especially new methods of encrypting data on the public cloud,” he said.

The minister believes that it is crucial to proactively address the national cyber security risks holistically and adequately.

To address the issue of AI talents’ shortage, Gobind said MDEC together with the Ministry of Education, through its jointly developed Premier Digital Tech Institutions (PDTI) initiative, have been aggressively promoting tech courses amongst public and private universities to produce top talents and help prepare graduates to meet industry expectations.

“There are currently 16 universities and polytechnics that have been recognised as PDTI. These institutions are expected to produce future leaders in the field of data analytics, AI, robotics and digital marketing that will help Malaysia prepare itself for the 4th Industrial Revolution,” he said.