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In the age of digital exploration, South Korea aims to achieve growth surge in hyper-scale AI towards a global model nation


On September 13th (Wed.), the Ministry of Science and ICT (Minister Lee Jong Ho, hereinafter referred to as "MSIT") hosted an event titled "South Korea's Great Leap in Hyper-scale AI" at Yeongbingwan, Cheong Wa Dae. The event was organized to celebrate independent development and launching of hyper-scale artificial intelligence (AI) by Korean companies in response to the emergence of ChatGPT, and to promote public-private cooperation in enhancing hyper-scale AI competitiveness and reliability through open innovation.




Since ChatGPT made its debut in November last year, global big tech companies such as OpenAI, Meta, and Google have been engaging in a fierce competition surrounding hyper-scale AI. In response, major countries such as the United States, the European Union, and the United Kingdom are actively discussing the establishment of a regulatory framework and safety measures to address the potential risks and side effects posed by AI technologies.




After unveiling the "Digital Strategy of Korea" in September 2022, the Korean government has consequently derived and executed a diverse set of strategies to drive the development of AI technology and industry. These include the "Plan for Everyday Use of AI and Industrial Sophistication" in January 2023 and the "Competitiveness Enhancement Strategy for Hyper-scale AI" in April 2023. Additionally, through initiatives including the "New York Initiative" in September 2022, the "Conversation with Top AI Scholars" in September 2022, the "Paris Initiative" in June 2023, and the recent "Republic of Korea (RoK)-ASEAN AI Youth Festa" in September 2023, the government has taken a leading role in discussions on the establishment of new digital order and norms, while expanding global AI cooperation.




Today's event was attended by over 70 participants, which included government officials, domestic AI businesses, startups, young entrepreneurs, researchers, and students. The goal was to kickstart Korea's growth towards becoming a digital model nation and to advance Korean AI onto the global stage. The event consisted of four main parts: 1) Dialogue with young AI leaders, 2) Introduction to the AI leap policy directions, 3) Declaration of the embarkment of Korean hyper-scale AI, and 4) Roundtable on policy recommendations.




Marking the start of the event, the "Dialogue with young AI leaders" took a free-flowing format of standing talk between three prominent figures in the AI scene: Bae Kyunghoon, Chief of LG AI Research, Ha Jung-Woo, Head of AI Innovation at Naver Cloud, Bae Soonmin, Chief of KT AI2XL. The talk explored the current status of and outlook for Korean hyper-scale AI models, and shared firsthand opinions and insights from these experts on many timely issues, such as application for specialized domains, global expansion strategies, AI risk management, and AI semiconductor.




The young leaders emphasized that although Korea had started as a latecomer in the field of AI, it has rapidly grown to develop and secure independent hyper-scale AI models through the combined efforts of businesses and governmental support. They expressed confidence that by harnessing existing advantages in semiconductor, platforms, ICT infrastructure, and combining them effectively, Korea can create tremendous synergy.




They also pointed out that Korea's AI capabilities are definitely not lagging behind other major countries, and positively diagnosed the potential of Korean AI industry to lead the global market through pioneering specialized application services, collaborations between large businesses and SMEs for win-win growth, and ensuring international-level safety and reliability.




Next part of the event featured Minister Lee Jong Ho. He introduced to the participants the "Plan to Achieve Growth Surge in AI" for becoming a digital model nation, of which the fundamental themes are: 1) Expanding global AI cooperation, 2) Promotion of the nationwide AI Integration into everyday lives, 3) Establishing the Digital Bill of Rights, and 4) Ensuring AI ethics and reliability. Details of the plan are as follows:




First, for domestic AI models to reach the top level in the global stage, Korea will pursue international joint research with leading universities in the U.S., Canada, the EU, and other countries starting next year. For example, joint laboratory for AI research will be established and master's or doctoral candidates will be dispatched as visiting scholars for specialized training. Korea will also reinforce mutual assistance on AI reliability policies and regulatory framework through bilateral consultative bodies and international organizations.* By taking on initiatives such as the RoK-ASEAN Digital Innovation Flagship, the government will support cooperation for shared AI prosperity and overseas expansion, particularly targeting emerging economies such as ASEAN and the Middle East.


* RoK-US, RoK-Japan ICT Policy Forum, RoK-UK Digital Partnership, Organization for Economic Cooperation and Development (OECD), United Nations Educational, Scientific, and Cultural Organization (UNESCO), Global Partnership on Artificial Intelligence (GPAI), etc.




Second, to improve citizens' convenience and drive industrial development through creation of large-scale demand, the government will allocate a budget of 909 billion KRW, jointly with relevant ministries, to promote nationwide AI integration into everyday lives. Collaborating across various sectors, including general lifestyle, industry, and public administration, Korea aims to spread AI solution throughout the nation. This will enable the public to enjoy benefit garnered by AI, and form a solid foundation for becoming a digital model nation.




Third, in line with the basic direction for new digital order and norms set by the "New York Initiative (September 2022)" and the "Paris Initiative (June 2023)," the government will establish the Digital Bill of Rights. The Bill defines the basic principles for a digital society of mutual prosperity and outlines the rights of citizens that should be guaranteed, as well as the responsibilities of various stakeholders. It was developed through a series of 14 roundtable discussions with university presidents, nine academic societies, business leaders, the young generation, and many others to reflect a wide range of concerns coming from diverse players in society. On the occasion of the 1st anniversary of the New York Initiative, the government plans to announce the Digital Bill of Rights and share it with the international community through organizations such as the UN and OECD, taking a leading role in shaping global digital norms.




Fourth, MSIT will enforce AI ethics and reliability to proactively mitigate potential risks and undesirable effects arising from the rapid technological advancement. This will involve the development and dissemination of the "Domain-specific Self-regulatory Checklists and Development Guidelines" for highly specialized areas including security (e.g. CCTV) and generative AI-based services. A certification system of reliability through a credible third-party organization will be established, which will evaluate significant risk factors and performance of AI services, and will be supported by the government to encourage voluntary implementation and adoption by the private sector. Additionally, next year, the Ministry will put forward the development of core technologies for AI explainability and fairness, as well as addressing key challenges of hyper-scale AI systems, for example, artificial hallucination (a confident response by AI not justified by its training data), bias, and unethical or harmful expressions.




Afterwards, Chairman Jo Jun Hee from the Korea Software Industry Association (KOSA) introduced the "Hyperscale-AI Promotion Committee" as the industry representative. The Committee is founded in order to promote open innovation with collaborative efforts for overseas expansion and investment, networking through technology showcases and exchanges, infrastructure development and utilization, and facilitating conversation between the industry and the government on AI policies and regulatory framework.




In particular, KOSA, along with eight representing companies, Naver Corp., LG AI Research, Kakao Corp., KT, SKT, Konan Technology, Scatterlab, and Rebillions, declared their commitment to launching a hyper-scale AI into the global market by promising to strengthen cooperation and investment for global expansion, enhancing AI reliability and safety to improve societal benefit, and ensuring compliance with and leadership in international standards.




In the ensuing discussion, participants proposed thoughtful policy suggestions for the advancement of AI technology in Korea. The suggestions included: 1) Fostering an ecosystem of win-win cooperation between large corporations and startups, 2) supporting international joint research efforts, 3) Promotion of research on AI with ambitious goals and innovative hyper-scale AI application service development, 4) Securing competitive edge in cloud computing through the utilization of AI chips, 5) The need for establishing a new digital order, and 6) Ensuring AI reliability and a regulatory framework.




Minister Lee Jong Ho emphasized, "To win the fierce digital competition, it is crucial to elevate both our competitiveness in AI technology and industry, and social acceptance in the same pace." He further stated, "We will diligently push forward with nationwide AI integration into everyday lives, which will create substantial demand and share benefits of AI with all citizens. At the same time, we will also stay keen on responding to international trends in AI and the digital, by reinforcing AI ethics and reliability and amendment of the Digital Bill of Rights. In the end, the Ministry aims to lead the normative discussions on a new digital order necessary for this era of deepening digitization."




For further information, please contact the Public Relations Division (Phone: +82-44-202-4034, E-mail: of the Ministry of Science and ICT.

Please refer to the attached PDF.

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