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AI Shaping Thailand’s Global Competitiveness

Image credits: mhesi.go.th
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Artificial Intelligence (AI) plays a crucial role in upholding Thailand’s national competitiveness, with diverse applications offering significant potential for progress, notably in healthcare. As AI continues its integration into daily life, it emerges as a formidable driver ensuring the country’s ongoing global competitiveness.

Recently, Prof Dr Sirirerk Songsivilai, the Permanent Secretary of the Ministry of Higher Education, Science, Research and Innovation (WHA), expressed support for advancing artificial intelligence (AI) to boost the nation’s competitiveness across various sectors of the economy. This endorsement was made in collaboration with Prof Dr Chukit Limpichamnong, National Science and Technology Development Agency (NSTDA) Director and Joint Secretary of the Committee on Intellectual Action Plan Driving.

A report was presented, and a cooperative agreement was signed to foster research and development of datasets and innovations to expand the application of medical AI. This collaboration involves the Department of Medical Services, Ministry of Public Health, Faculty of Medicine Ramathibodi Hospital, Mahidol University, and NSTDA.

Dr Sirirerk Songsivilai expressed his satisfaction with advancing the implementation of the plan’s strategic goals, aiming for clear and tangible results. He emphasised Thailand’s need to prepare for the forthcoming artificial intelligence (AI) technology and develop AI capabilities within the country to maximise the plan’s benefits.

Since the plan’s official approval in the past year, there has been strong cooperation across various aspects, including legal infrastructure, workforce development, research, and AI application promotion. This collaboration has led to significant achievements with economic and social impact, and today’s partnership will drive Thailand’s further progress.

The progress includes the creation of Thailand’s first AI ethics handbook and the launch of the Artificial Intelligence Governance Centre for responsible AI use. Additionally, infrastructure improvements such as the development of the GDCC and access to the LANTA supercomputer have been made. Efforts in human resources development aim to produce AI-skilled personnel at all levels, meeting private sector needs. There are also initiatives in 76 provinces to use AI in poverty alleviation programmes. These efforts have resulted in increased training attendance, substantial AI research funding, and a notable rise in Thailand’s AI Government Readiness Index from 59 to 31 since the launch of the 2017 AI Action Plan.

Moreover, Dr Chukit explained that Thailand is increasingly applying AI in healthcare. Still, the significant challenge lies in establishing an open medical data platform for AI research while addressing patient data privacy concerns and interdepartmental data gaps. Consequently, the collaboration among the three agencies is a pivotal move to grant AI researchers access to diverse medical data, including chest X-rays, MRI/CT scans, cancer images, and more. This data is managed under the Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) through the Medical AI DATA Consortium committee, facilitating AI utilisation.

In partnership with Thammasat University, the Department of Medical Services has successfully developed ‘AIChest4All,’ a one-minute software for precise lung cancer, tuberculosis, and chest disease screening. Such extensive cooperation is expected to attract research hospitals and public health agencies, advancing AI technology to enhance healthcare quality and elevate Thailand’s status as an Asian medical hub.

By embracing this initiative, Dr Chukit believes it will benefit and enhance the overall quality of public services, ultimately contributing to Thailand’s status as a prominent digital technology hub in the region.

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