Asia-based senior executives in global firms believe that the impact of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and robotics on their business performance in Asia will be immediate, profound, and positive. In Asia’s AI agenda: the Deep Dive Editions, MIT Technology Review is re-examining the technology, venture capital, government and enterprise strategy trends that are converging on this region to drive innovation and adoption of Artificial Intelligence (AI), and how specific Asian markets are taking advantage of these trends. This was based on a survey of Asia-based senior executives (including human capital professionals) to gather perspective of the impact of AI and robotics on Asia’s business landscape.
This holistic view of AI’s trajectory, and how it is manifesting in each of four markets—Singapore, China, Australia and India—has revealed that advances in automation technology are quickly changing the way Asia’s firms manage and develop their human talent, forcing them to examine the very nature of what a ‘job’ means.
Overwhelmingly, respondents felt technological advancements in AI and robotics will have very positive effects on most industrial sectors in Asia. While much of Asia lacks the depth of technical skills and R&D facilities needed to keep pace with AI development, there are significant pockets of the ‘natural resources’ Asian economies need to promote and develop their own machine-learning capabilities. China, India and other large Asian economies generate a copious amount of data, which is critical to pushing AI’s capabilities forward. Australia and Singapore, despite their small sizes, each punch well above their weight in the development of ‘indigenous’ AI R&D resources, and have clear visions for how machine learning can complement and enhance the competitiveness of their established leading industries.
Ironically, given a common presumption that AI will be responsible for disintermediation of jobs at all levels, it is Asia’s massive human capital dividend—the billions of constantly Internet-connected workers and consumers –that will propel AI development in the region farther and faster. AI may start to disintermediate roles and responsibilities across Asia’s economies, but it will enhance and redefine far more capabilities, and increase the productivity of all firms and workers.
Asian-based senior executives feel AI will significantly improve their own competitiveness in Asia, especially in process efficiency and their ability to use customer data to achieve better insight.
● Despite this, the report’s survey found that only a small percentage of global firms are currently investing in AI development in Asian markets specifically.
● HR executives surveyed felt AI and robotics adoption will cause their roles to evolve over the next five years to ’productivity management’ roles, encompassing the management of both human and artificial talent.
● In each of Asia’s economies, AI and automation are already changing the ways firms manage and develop human talent:
o Australia is fostering AI development in healthcare, financial services, and in a green-economy focus on energy and utilities
o The skills and talent pools created by India’s IT ecosystem are seen as an asset that could make it a globally competitive producer of AI software and applications
o Significant AI research and investment in China give it a real possibility of securing a leading role in defining AI globally
o Singapore is keen to future-proof its economy through AI, leading to a focus on applications poised to redefine the city-state’s role as one of the world’s most important finance centers.