ASTRI hosts Technovation Summit

February 14, 2019 18:37
Public and private sector leaders joined technology and research stalwarts at the ASTRI Technovation Summit

It is widely believed that the evolution of Artificial Intelligence (AI) will be one of the most exciting developments in the technology sector in 2019. AI will make humans inseparable from smart systems and machines, and some studies suggested that by 2022, 40% of the programming work could be carried out by AI. The application of AI will be literally infinite in future. The Hong Kong Applied Science and Technology Research Institute (ASTRI) organised the Technovation Summit on 14 December 2018 focusing on the evolution of AI and communications technologies. The Summit’s theme was "A Smart Future powered by AI".

The Summit gathered a number of pioneering leaders and experts who shared their views on AI and Smart City development. Mr Wong Ming-yam, Chairman of ASTRI, pointed out in his welcome speech that by 2050, 75% of the world's population will live in cities. Urbanisation is bound to become the most prominent trend in countries around the world. Particularly for a densely populated city like Hong Kong, smart city development will greatly affect the quality of residents’ lives. Over the years, ASTRI has been playing a relentless role to drive Innovation and Technology (I&T) for Hong Kong’s smart city development. Its innovations include solutions to solve people’s everyday problems, improving elderly care, enhancing the digital competitiveness of manufacturing and financial services, and augmenting healthcare with technological solutions – striving to create a better future for our next generation.

Hong Kong has the right recipe to thrive in AI

Mr Nicholas Yang, Secretary for Innovation and Technology, was the officiating guest at the summit. Mr Yang asked the audience two questions at the onset of his speech, which revealed two facts. Firstly – “AI has over 60 years of history”, and secondly – “the average AI start-up has a life span of just five years”, giving investors and venture capitalists much to worry about. And add to that the fact “these start-ups hardly ever become profitable”. He hoped that the Summit could offer a platform to explore and discuss pragmatic solutions, so that “the next 60 years of the AI journey can be successful and sustainable”.

Hong Kong definitely has an edge in developing AI. With an increasingly vibrant innovation and technology ecosystem, Hong Kong can nurture and attract the best research talents in AI. According to Scopus, the largest abstract and citation database of peer-reviewed literature, universities in Hong Kong ranked the third best globally in terms of producing the most highly cited and impactful AI research. The city has produced the SenseTime – one of the most successful global AI unicorns. Mr Yang hoped that, with full support of the Innovation and Technology Fund, more AI ventures and technology developers will flourish in the future.

The one-day Summit included various keynote speeches and panel discussions. Representing the highly successful AI firm SenseTime, Ms Esther Wong, Managing Director for Strategic Investments, shared the success story of SenseTime. For instance, she cited AI systems that can "read" medical diagnostic images and help ensure efficient and accurate healthcare in the Mainland China. Using AI has made decision making – on medicines to prescribe and surgery to be required more accurate and pragmatic in that market. She emphasised the need to cultivate talents who can develop more effective AI applications.

Other keynote speakers included the Honourable Charles Mok, Legislative Council Member; Mr Jason Poon, Assistant Government Chief Information Officer; Dr Winnie Tang –Hong Kong Smart City Consortium’s founder and Honorary Chairman, and Professor Henry Chung from the Department of Electronic Engineering of the City University of Hong Kong. Speakers and panellists highlighted the need to aggressively leverage the power of AI for the benefit of Hong Kong’s people and to propel its Smart City development.

A three-pronged approach to technological innovation

Hugh Chow, Chief Executive Officer of ASTRI explained how the institute innovates technologies and applications to enhance Hong Kong’s competitiveness. He shared his insights on how ASTRI adopted a new interpretation for ICT – which conventionally means “Information and Communications Technologies”. For ASTRI, the innovation strategy evolves around applications that are “Intelligent, Connected and Trusted”. For example, ASTRI has developed an Intelligent chatbot that understands the spoken form of Cantonese and mixed-language usage. It has also developed “Intelligent” lithium batteries that auto shuts down when over-heated, to prevent explosions. ASTRI’s “Connected” applications include multifaceted applications of 5G technologies, including smart parking and smart mobility. It delivers “Trusted” solutions using technologies like Blockchain, biometric authentication and cybersecurity research. From banks to public services, ASTRI’s solutions strive to bolster Hong Kong Kong’s overall I&T and smart city development.

ASTRI is set to host its’ next big event to promote Hong Kong’s I&T development on 11 March. The "5G and IoT Forum" will take place in Hong Kong – don’t miss out.

(Information source: ASTRI)

The Summit facilitated insightful and deep discussions on Hong Kong’s future as a world-class smart city
Smart Government enabled by Smart Technologies was one of the key topics at the Summit

Hong Kong Economic Journal