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Asia’s AI Agenda: Introduction

Asia’s quest for technology innovation and sustained economic growth drives tremendous investment in artificial intelligence.

Editor’s Note: This article provides an introduction to “Asia’s AI Agenda,” a report based on a recent survey of Asia-based senior executives at global organizations. For more about respondents’ opinions on how AI and robotics are affecting Asian business, please begin with the executive summary.

Speculation on the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and robotics technologies often posits a binary outcome: either AI will profoundly increase efficiency and convenience for the world’s economies and its people, or it will irrevocably disrupt (if not destroy) nearly every established industry and the livelihoods they all support.

The reality will lie between these two extremes. Based on research gathered from surveying Asian business leaders and human resources and AI professionals, this report argues that AI’s future will cleave much more closely to the positive outcome. Moreover, this future appears to be approaching quickly: advances in deep learning and the rapid expansion of process automation in such diverse sectors as manufacturing, transportation, and financial services mean that AI’s impact is growing exponentially with each passing year. Decision makers in all organizations must now begin to understand how AI will alter their own operational processes and those of suppliers, partners, and customers.

Asia’s business landscape is poised not only to benefit greatly from AI’s rise, but also to define it.

Asia’s quest for technology innovation and sustained economic growth drives tremendous investment in the space. Japan and Korea are looking to infuse all manner of consumer electronics with intelligence.

China is attempting to complement and extend, rather than replace, human labor to maintain its dominant role in global manufacturing. China is also striving to build up its intellectual property reserves to ensure that its own companies are globally competitive in the creation of AI and robotic technologies. Singapore and Hong Kong are in a race to become leading financial technology hubs, seeding investment in AI tools in financial service applications.

MIT Technology Review has conducted surveys and interviews across Asia in developing this report, which assesses how recent advancements in AI and robotics are impacting Asia’s business landscape, looking at the efforts that Asian governments, research institutes, and venture capitalists are making to hasten their development.

Next: Asia’s AI Agenda: Positively Inclined

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