Thai government plans six flagship AI projects in national strategyLegacy

Six flagship projects, including the development of an artificial intelligence (AI) workforce and the Thai large language model (ThaiLLM), are on the cards for the second phase of the national AI strategy and action plan. The initiation of these projects is pending approval from a new National AI Committee, appointed by Prime Minister Srettha Thavisin.

An estimated budget of 1.5 billion baht (US$42 million) is required for these projects, with 1 billion dedicated to the development of 30,000 AI-skilled workers, including engineers and beginners. The National Electronics and Computer Technology Center (NECTEC), secretary to the steering committee, recently held a confidential hearing where details of the proposed projects were shared by associated organisations.

The Big Data Institute’s AI project, Travel Link, aims to utilise AI to recommend tourism attractions by amalgamating tourism data, stated Tiranee Achalakul, president of the institute. She added that the project would boost local tourism revenue through traveller insights. In the second quarter of 2023, tourism contributed 11.4% of the GDP.

“We will use generative AI to make a tourism chatbot.”

Nakarin Amarase, senior vice president for external affairs at Siam Commercial Bank, emphasised AI’s need to strengthen fraud detection systems to mitigate financial fraud losses. From March 17, 2023, to February 29, 2024, cybercrime losses totalled 27 billion baht (US$761), with an average of 645 cases daily. Using AI for analysing users with multiple SIM cards and suspicious bank transactions would assist in freezing dubious transactions before any damage occurs.

The ThaiLLM project, anticipated to need a budget of 120 million baht (US$3.38 million), is an essential initiative, according to Kobkrit Viriyayudhakorn, president of the AI Entrepreneur Association of Thailand. The project aims to create an open-source ThaiLLM foundation and chatbots that offer information on health, travel, and the environment, said Kobkrit.

“We aim to employ 590 AI workers for the project and encourage the creation of Thai AI startups, reducing both costs and reliance on foreign AI. AI is the national infrastructure for secure technology.”

Government, agency initiatives

Additionally, NECTEC is tasked with creating a biometric identification AI testing centre, while the Electronic Transactions Development Agency plans to upgrade its AI governance clinic to an AI governance centre. Putchapong Nodthaisong, secretary-general of the Office of the National Digital Economy and Society Commission, revealed that the commission’s fund could support some of these projects, such as the fraud detection system and ThaiLLM foundation.

Wiboon Rugsancharoenphol, committee secretary of the Innovation One fund under the Federation of Thai Industries (FTI), shared that AI could enhance productivity in the manufacturing sector during 2024-25. The FTI is promoting the pilot use of CiRA CORE technology in 50-60 small-scale factories, focusing on electronics and food.

The project is expected to cost 20 million baht (US$563,944). Furthermore, the FTI is targeting AI energy optimisation to aid manufacturers in reducing their carbon footprint, supporting exports under the EU’s Carbon Border Adjustment Mechanism, reported Bangkok Post.

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Author: Alex Morgan