The development of artificial intelligence (AI) technology should be transparent and establish accountability, so as to better society instead of dividing it, Minister Without Portfolio Audrey Tang (唐鳳) said yesterday.
Tang, who is responsible for the government’s digital policy, told a news conference on the nation’s AI development at the Ministry of Science and Technology in Taipei that many people were pessimistic about AI three years ago, but that Taiwan has shown a positive trajectory for promoting “open innovation.”
For example, the ministry’s 2018 Grand Challenge, aimed to develop voice assistants in Mandarin, even shared all of the data with those unable to sign up for the event, she said.
Photo: Chien Hui-ju, Taipei Times
AI could also be referred to as “assistive intelligence,” meaning that its tools are supposed to solve problems in industry, society or the environment, Tang said.
Privacy protection and accountability are two essential issues for AI development, while transparency is key to fostering accountability with AI so that it makes a society better, not more divided, she said.
Asked to compare AI strategies in Taiwan and China, Taiwan AI Labs founder Ethan Tu (杜奕瑾) told the news conference that “it is crucial to make the world trust your tools.”
As users become more vigilant about Facebook, privacy and information security issues, Taiwan has its edge in diversity and transparency, he said.
When he left his Microsoft job in the US to return to Taiwan three years ago, many people told him that the domestic market was too small to support the development of AI technology and application, Tu said.
Nonetheless, even Microsoft ended up establishing a research center in Taiwan, showing the appeal of Taiwanese software talent, he said.
Minister of Science and Technology Chen Liang-gee (陳良基) said that without the support of Tang and Tu, he would not have been confident enough as a minister to promote AI.
After Tu founded Taiwan AI Labs in April 2017, the ministry established AI innovative research centers at National Taiwan University, National Cheng Kung University, National Tsing Hua University and National Chiao Tung University, he said.
Cheng Kung researchers have developed AI-assisted systems for shortening the diagnosis time needed for COVID-19 tests from two-and-a-half hours to 30 minutes, just one example of smart medicine applications, he said.
While AI is being used in several areas, Taiwan is lagging behind in the development of self-driving technology, Chen said.
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