Silicon Valley brings together existing and new businesses all over the world. Working at CloudCar, a startup that leverages AI to offer white-labeled personalized infotainment solutions for automotive OEMs, there are plenty opportunities for us to visit conferences and engage with other high-tech companies.
On November 7, I explored the innovations emerging from Korea’s developing tech hub. K-GLOBAL @ Silicon Valley 2018, a conference and business expo sponsored by the Korea Ministry of Science, Korea Trade-Investment Promotion Agency at National IT Industry Promotion Agency, consisted of keynote speeches and panel discussions in the areas of future mobility, robotics and AI. There was also a quite comprehensive business expo.
After an Opening and Welcome speech, the day began with keynotes from leading experts SK Telecom Senior Vice President Yu-sung Chang, Karma Automotive CEO Dr. Lance Guo Zhou and others. Yu-sung Chang gave an interesting point of voice on the AI evolution, and its challenges and opportunities. He began the delivery of his presentation by taking us back into time and giving a history of voice-based approaches. He pointed out that technically very demanding consumer oriented solutions introduced a few years back were primarily used by the end user to set alarms and checking the weather. However, Yu-sung Chang saw a bright future in the emerging voice-activated assistants. SK Telecom offers a product called NUGU, very similar to Amazon’s Alexa. They put their AI platform to work in hotels enabling guest to control lighting, curtains and temperature using voice commands.
Virtual recognition technology is improving and enables many applications in the consumer space. Karma Automotive’s CEO, Dr. Lance Zhou, gave a business presentation and introduced their Revero luxury car that, according to him, features a timeless design powered by electricity, fuel and light. Like many companies in the automotive industry and vehicle technology space, the Southern California automaker is seeking partnerships and collaborators to help introduce the latest technology into a premium automotive product.
The first panel of the day had participants from venture firms and included discussions about the role of AI for autonomous vehicles and future mobility. It addressed among other things timelines, risks, technical stack, role of start-ups, integrators, certification etc. An interesting take away for me was, that while algorithms behind the autonomous vehicles get increasingly better, computing requirements and related power consumption are currently still much above what would be suitable for a volume product.
Chang Dong Yoo from KAIST (Korean Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) gave a talk on AI and how it needs to gain our trust. His take was, that despite all the technological advances, it appears we still do not have complete confidence in AI. When life is on the line, most of us currently prefer humans over a machine.
The next panel on robotics was a broad discussion about emerging fields, technology and society impact. I learned that there is a high growth rate for robotics in home appliances like vacuums and also in the medical field with surgical assistants which leads to doing good in our society. Manufacturers and the industrial space are promising markets for collaborative robots that increasingly will work jointly with human workers.
The last panel discussion I attended at K-GLOBAL focused on AI and included participants from venture, AI and AI application companies. Discussions included society impact, applications and business viability. In a connected world, data collection is at a rapid rate. The success of AI will depend on having the right data and talent. From a venture perspective, there are many success stories where AI empowers us to do new things.
Overall a very fun and interesting event that provided a good overview of history, challenges and opportunities in AI and the role Korean companies will play to drive things to the next level.
Written by: Daniel Grill, Senior Analytics Product Manager