Korea Lags Behind in AI Technology

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Korea did not report a single significant development in machine learning last year, according to a report ranking artificial intelligence technology around the world.

In the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence’s AI Index published Monday, the U.S. ranked first last year in terms of machine learning development with 16 instances, followed by the U.K. (eight), China (three) and Canada and Germany (two each). France, India, Israel, Russia and Singapore also succeeded in more than one case of machine learning development.

Korea achieved none even though Naver, Kakao, SK Telecom, KT and many other companies are spending huge sums of money to develop AI technologies.

Korea’s private sector invested US$3.1 billion in AI last year, the sixth highest amount in the world. Although that was just 1/15 of the amount spent by the U.S. over the same period, it was similar to India and Israel, which ranked fourth with $3.2 billion.

But Korea has few newly invested companies in the field. Only 22 AI companies landed private-sector investment last year, putting Korea in 13th place, compared to 542 in the U.S., 160 in China, 73 in Israel, 57 in India, 36 in Singapore and 31 in Japan.

“Despite the AI hype, investments centered mostly on large conglomerates and a handful of start-ups, which means there’s no diverse ecosystem being created,” an industry insider said.

The study shows that Korea has been painfully slow to invest in AI technology. Cumulative investments from 2013 to 2022 stood at just $5.5 billion, and more than half of that came last year. Korean companies only rushed to develop generative AI like Chat GPT and image generation last year, when mass media interest in such technologies grew.

Not a single AI-related law was passed in Korea last year. But the report finds that public interest in AI is relatively high among Koreans, who believe AI products and services have more benefits than drawbacks, making them the ninth most enthusiastic people in the world.

China ranked at the top when it comes to public enthusiasm.

The institute announces the AI Index every year and the data is used by the global industry as a snapshot of the latest trends.



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