SEOUL, Aug. 10 (Korea Bizwire) – South Korea said on Tuesday it will push to nurture artificial intelligence (AI), unmanned vehicle technologies and seven other key IT fields as new growth engines.
The announcement was made at a science and technology strategy session presided over by President Park Geun-hye, the Ministry of Science, ICT and Future Planning said.
The government selected five strategic projects aimed at securing new growth engines — unmanned vehicles, light materials, the smart city model, artificial intelligence (AI) and virtual reality (VR).
Four other projects — fine dust, carbon resources, precision medicine and new pharmacies — are aimed at enhancing quality of life, the ministry said.
Noticeably, the government said the AI sector will raise the country’s competitiveness in the so-called fourth industrial revolution.
The ministry said it will carry out projects with the collaboration of state and private entities for the creation of AI products and platform.
The government plans to increase the number of AI firms by 1,000 by 2016 and train up to 3,600 engineers by 2019.
The announcement comes amid heightened interest in AI following the high-profile matches between Google’s AI program AlphaGo and South Korean Go champ Lee Se-dol earlier this year.
There have been growing calls that South Korea should revamp its R&D strategy to catch up with other global powerhouses in the field.
The ministry said it plans to raise the competitiveness of AI technology to the same level as an advanced country in 10 years.
Also, the government announced a five-year master plan to develop the local unmanned vehicle industry.
Under the project, the government will first concentrate efforts on developing core components of unmanned vehicles such as censors by 2019.
Then, the government will boost the development of self-driving cars and spearhead the commercialization of autonomous cars by creating a regulation-free zone by 2024.
In the virtual VR or augmented reality (AR) sector, the ministry said it plans to narrow the technology gap with market leader United States by 2020.
The panel, launched in May and headed by Park, serves as a “control tower” and “trouble shooter” for South Korea’s overall science and technology policy, the ministry said.