Sat, Aug 26, 2017 - Page 12 News List

Microsoft Taiwan plans to increase AI development

By Lauly Li  /  Staff reporter

Microsoft Taiwan Corp has plans to further develop artificial intelligence (AI) by seeking more resources from its headquarters and offering help to the government, enterprises and start-ups to cultivate talent, a company executive said yesterday.

“We are drafting strategies [to cultivate talent]... We think Microsoft’s experience and technology can benefit Taiwan’s AI development,” Jason Tsao (趙質忠), Microsoft Taiwan’s newly appointed marketing and operating head, told a news conference in Taipei.

Tsao is also head of staff for Microsoft’s regional office in Beijing, a position he has held since April last year.

Tsao said he aims to leverage his regional position in the US company to allocate more resources to Taiwan, such as arranging more visits by Microsoft corporate vice president Hon Hsiao-wuen (洪小文) to share research in AI technology.

Hon is also a managing director at Microsoft Research Asia.

Sinovation Ventures (創新工場) founder Lee Kai-fu (李開復), who played a key role in establishing the China-based Microsoft Research Asia, in June said he does not think Taiwan has a chance to develop AI technology, given that the nation lacks software capability.

Citing Lee’s remarks, Tsao said it is true that the government and enterprises tend to see things from a “hardware-oriented” view, as it is the manufacturing sector’s main expertise.

“If Taiwan wants to develop AI and make it applicable, it needs to change its mindset,” Tsao said, adding that when it comes to AI, mastering data collection, analysis and cloud computing is more valuable than selling hardware.

Microsoft Taiwan is in talks with Taipei Medical University to design programs for AI talent training, he said, without elaborating.

The Executive Yuan on Thursday approved a five-year AI program, aiming to allocate NT$16 billion (US$528.9 million) to develop machine-learning technology and transform the nation into an AI hub.

The initiative involves establishing an innovative research center for AI before the end of the year and building infrastructure the technology requires, the Cabinet said.

Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) on Thursday told reporters that the ministry has spoken to Microsoft, Google, Facebook Inc and IBM Corp about assisting Taiwan to develop cloud-computing technology.

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