【明報專訊】ON her visit to Japan, Carrie Lam, the Chief Executive, advertised the idea of the Great Bay Area to strive for greater cooperation on innovation and technology between the two regions.
The development of innovation and technology is a global trend. Hong Kong is playing catch-up to strive for the status as an international centre in this regard. Not only does Hong Kong have a sophisticated level of academic research on innovation and technology, but there are also talented people in the area. Over the past two years, the government has proposed a number of measures, providing funding to support scientific research in universities, pushing forward with a "re-industrialisation" initiative and supporting enterprises that pursue innovation and technology. Though the proportion of such investments is not as high as that of neighbouring regions such as Shenzhen and Singapore, the government has, after all, taken a step in the right direction. What Hong Kong needs most now is to further build up its strength in scientific research and combine its own advantages and the country's strategy for development to promote the applications of such technologies and the development of industries.
Artificial intelligence (AI) is an important driving force behind the new round of technological revolution and industrial reform. It is also of the utmost importance for the country's strategy for development. This week the Central Politburo of the Communist Party of China convened a learning session to understand the trends of the development of AI. The speeding up of the development of a new generation of AI will be an important strategic resource for the country's technological development, upgrading of its industries and a leap in productivity. As can be seen in the struggle between China and the US, it is necessary to "keep a tight grip" on the crucial, core technologies.
The central government has come up with a blueprint for the development of AI. It will spend US$150 billion over the next ten years to strive to become a leading AI nation by 2030. The government will fully support domestic scientists in their foray into the "uncharted territory" of the forefront of AI to promote the industrialisation of AI technologies and the reform of all sectors. Even Western experts admit that the AI race has become a two-horse race between China and the US, which will determine which country will claim the title of the world's leading economic and technological power. China enjoys the advantages of strong support from the nation's policies and the colossal amount of data from its 700-million-strong netizens. As for the US, its strengths lie in the fact that it already has lots of AI experts and the solid foundations of scientific research at civilian level.
To Hong Kong, the development of AI is beneficial to the full upgrading of the financial and service industries and the economic diversification of Hong Kong's industries. What is regrettable is that Hong Kong's progress in applying AI has been slow, and mainstream society is not prepared to embrace AI. According to the Asian Index of Artificial Intelligence compiled by the Asia Business Council, mainland China is atop the list of eight regions of Asia, pulling far ahead of Singapore, India and Japan. Hong Kong, in contrast, is in second last place, just ahead of Indonesia.
Recently the vice-chancellors of the University of Hong Kong (HKU), the Chinese University of Hong Kong (CUHK) and the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology (HKUST) said in unison during a forum that Hong Kong's cooperation with mainland China will be beneficial to its development of innovation and technology. The HKUST has said that it is planning to set up a campus in Guangzhou at the invitation of the Guangzhou government, which will mainly enrol graduate students with a focus on the development of areas such as AI, data science and financial technology. It is hoped that the new campus and the main campus in Hong Kong will combine their complementary strengths. This is a good opportunity for enhancing Hong Kong's scientific research capability and should be seized.
driving force : someone or something that strongly influences people and makes them do something
leap : a sudden large change or increase in sth
two-horse : If you describe a contest as a two-horse race, you mean that only two of the people or things taking part have any chance of winning.