AI Taiwan Action Plan—Transforming industry with artificial intelligence

  • Date: 2018-02-01

I. Background

Artificial intelligence (AI) is not simply a technological revolution; it will fundamentally transform human life and industry. Thus countries around the globe are engaged in a burgeoning wave of AI development. To capitalize on this juncture, the government declared 2017 the first year of a new AI era in Taiwan. In addition to proposing a strategy plan for AI scientific research in August of that year, the government also released a four-year AI Taiwan Action Plan this year on January 18.

II. Taiwan’s advantages in AI development

On January 10 of 2018, Microsoft Corp. announced that Taiwan will be the home of a new AI research hub, demonstrating the success of the government’s promotion of the AI industry in winning support from world-class companies. The main reasons behind Microsoft’s decision to locate the center in Taiwan are a deep pool of globally recognized talent and Taiwan’s status as the world’s leader in information hardware manufacturing.

Not only does Taiwan lead the world in contract semiconductor manufacturing, but the nation is also the top producer of information and communications technology in terms of volume. Thanks to the extensive adoption of technology within vertically integrated application areas—including medical treatment and care, smart cities, online government services, smart manufacturing and high-end agriculture—Taiwan has built up a robust hardware supply chain, and now has the ability to construct complete smart systems. Additionally, businesses conduct active research and development in multiple application areas, which has gradually led to the emergence of an overarching ecosystem for innovative smart-tech applications. A corps of highly capable small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), as well as Taiwan’s top ranking in Open Knowledge International’s 2016/2017 Global Open Data Index, also contribute to a solid foundation for the research and development of AI.

III. AI Taiwan Action Plan

The AI Taiwan Action Plan consist of five major components:
A. Promoting Taiwan’s lead role in AI
In consultation with experts and industry, the government will identify themes and objectives for research and development. Teams drawn from private firms, research institutes, universities and professional groups will then submit research proposals, to be selected through open competition. This competitive selection will also be open to international research teams.
By bringing together forward-looking research, talent development and technology experimentation, an integration mechanism for shared information will be created to form a forward-looking AI research network for Taiwan.
B. Racing to amass AI talent
High-level smart-technology research personnel will be trained by universities and research institutes, with a goal of producing 1,000 AI specialists by 2021. Universities, private-sector firms and government-sponsored technology education courses will also train more than 5,000 people per year in practical applications of smart technology.
To encourage the relocation of foreign professionals to Taiwan, the Legislative Yuan passed the Act for the Recruitment and Employment of Foreign Professionals on October 31, 2017. Through deregulation to create a friendly environment, Taiwan will hone its advantages to attract and retain talent from abroad. At the same time, the government will continue expanding efforts to draw international AI professionals to Taiwan by relaxing rules under the Leaders in Future Trends program, designed to tap into the pool of talented Taiwanese overseas, as well as undertake a program to attract and retain industrial talent from abroad. A plan to establish an AI innovation-centered community to provide a positive environment for daily life and education will also be pursued.
C. Building Taiwan into a hub for AI innovation
With combined public-private financing from Taiwan’s national investment company and venture capitalists, as well as guidance from domestic and international business incubators and accelerators, AI startups will be helped through the different stages of development. Furthermore, under a program to encourage international partnerships focused on innovative research and development, world-class flagship enterprises will be drawn to Taiwan to establish bases for AI research and development, forging links with the domestic AI industry and integrating into Taiwan’s industrial ecosystem.
D. Liberalizing laws and regulations to make available proving grounds and open data
The government will provide proving grounds for smart-tech applications and create a highly secure open data and connectivity platform with a friendly user interface.
Regulators will research and promote the deregulation of innovative industries such as unmanned vehicles, create regulatory sandboxes, and encourage government procurement involving AI technologies.
E. Transforming industry with AI
Guided by the demands of industrial innovation, AI talent will be matched to issues within the “five plus two” innovative industries to develop more than 100 solutions through the application of AI.
■ SMEs will enjoy a comprehensive supportive environment for the research and development of integrated circuits, the internet of things, big data, and the development of AI applications.

IV. Conclusion

The AI Taiwan Action Plan will bring about a complete transformation of industry in Taiwan, with the hardware sector exerting an economic push and the software sector a complementary pull that will help secure opportunities and advantages as the next wave of the smart-tech revolution builds. These momentous changes will propel Taiwan into the next stage of economic development as it emerges as a smart digital nation.