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(EDITORIAL from Korea Times on Oct. 30)

All Headlines 07:02 October 30, 2019

National strategy for AI
What's necessary is not ambitious plan but bold deregulation

President Moon Jae-in vowed on Monday to set a national strategy for artificial intelligence by the end of the year. "The government will shift to a comprehensive negative regulatory system and boldly tear down barriers in different areas to let developers turn their imagination into reality as freely as they can," President Moon said while attending a conference of software and AI developers. If the strategy takes concrete shape, it will mean the completion of the national strategic industry map, along with the three new industrial sectors of bio-health, future cars and system semiconductors.

While Korea was off its guard, however, the nation's AI sector has lagged behind not only the U.S. and Europe but also China. The main culprit was the web of regulations concerning big data and networking technology that back up AI. The President said his administration would spend an outlay of 1.7 trillion won ($1.4 billion) on data networks and AI next year, up 50 percent from 2019. At stake is how to ease regulations that shackle private businesses.

An autonomous vehicle is the combination of big data, 5G networks and AI. However, carmakers cannot conduct tests on unmanned cars here because of the Road Traffic Act. Hyundai Motor is now setting up a $2 billion joint venture for autonomous vehicle production. Still, its primary purpose is not co-developing technologies but avoiding regulations at home. Data use, which forms the basis of the AI industry, remains half-baked here as it is blocked by the strictest privacy protection rules in the world. The revision bill for this and other related laws has languished at the National Assembly for more than a year.

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