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Vietnam Jumps 14 Places in Government AI Readiness Index 2021

Vietnam has ranked 62nd in the 2021 Government Artificial Intelligence (AI) Readiness Index, jumping 14 places since the year before. The index is an annual report released by a UK-based research group in collaboration with Canada’s International Development Research Centre (IDRC). With an overall score of 51.82 out of 100, Vietnam ranked 6th in the Association of Southeast Asia Nations (ASEAN). This is the first year its score has surpassed the global average of 47.42.

The index, published yearly, ranks countries based on 42 indicators across three pillars:  government, the technology sector, and data and infrastructure. According to the Deputy Head of the High Technology Department under the Vietnam Ministry of Science and Technology, the index also evaluates human resources training, technology application, and the development and deployment of a national strategy on AI. In the 2021 release, for the first time since the index was created, one-quarter of the countries in the top 20 are from East Asia, namely, Singapore (2nd), South Korea (10th), Japan (12th), China (15th), and Taiwan (18th). Apart from Taiwan, all these countries score significantly above the global average in both the human capital and infrastructure dimensions, marking the region’s global success in AI research and its advanced computing power.

Vietnam and Indonesia released national AI strategies in the time since the 2020 index was compiled, meaning that they both scored the maximum in the Vision dimension this year. Vietnam’s AI strategy sets out its ambitions to be amongst the top countries in the region for AI research, development, and application. Meanwhile, Indonesia’s AI strategy focuses on health services, bureaucracy reform, education and research, food security, mobility, and smart cities.

Last year, the Vietnamese Minister of Science and Technology, Bui The Duy, said the strategy aims to put Vietnam among the four leading countries in ASEAN, and 50 nations globally in terms of AI research, development and application by 2030. It will also build 10 prestigious AI trademarks in the region and develop three national big data and high-performance computing centres. Also, by 2030, Vietnam plans to have set up 50 interconnected open databases in economic sectors. The country is fine-tuning legal documents and creating a legal framework regarding AI, as well as promoting international cooperation in the field, the Minister had noted.

Nearly 40% of the 160 countries ranked in the 2021 AI Readiness Index have published or are drafting national AI strategies, demonstrating that AI is quickly becoming a top concern for world leaders. 30% of ranked countries have already published a national AI strategy while 9% are drafting one. The global interest in AI comes amid a wider turn to digital government, spurred in large part by social distancing measures implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The US topped the rankings with 88.16 points owing to the size and maturity of its technology sector. Singapore ranked second with 82.46 as a result of its institutional strength and government digital capacity. The other countries in the top five are the UK, Finland, and the Netherlands.

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