Exponential technology seen as driver of Thai growth 

Economy March 21, 2018 01:00


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EXPONENTIAL technology will play the leading role in driving Thailand’s economic growth in the next decade due to the advent of 5G telecom, cheap human genome sequencing, solar energy, cellular agriculture, among others, according to private sector executives.

Natthaphol Vimolchalao, ambassador of the SingularityU Bangkok Chapter, said at an event to announce Southeast Asia’s first SingularityU Summit to be held in Bangkok during June 19-20 that the aim is to inspire changes by exposing new questions about the impact of innovation on productivity, talent, industries, and public policy.

According to Natthaphol, the upcoming 5G (fifth generation) telecom technology will likely facilitate exponential economic growth rates in Thailand, while the low-cost genomic sequencing when combined with artificial intelligence (AI) software can deliver predictive medical diagnosis.

Natthaphol said cellular agriculture also holds the potential of disrupting the farm sector and food production in the near future while low-cost solar energy and automotive battery as well as other exponential technology will disrupt other sectors of the economy .

Dr John Leslie Millar, head of Exponential Social Enterprise Co, said a new generation of global enterprises have adopted the exponential technology resulting in a much faster speed to business success such as Amazon.com (five years) and AirBNB (1 year).

As a result, the SingularityU Summit in Bangkok will help drive the government’s “Thailand 4.0” initiative for digital economy and society, with 60 per cent of summit attendees expected to come from foreign countries.

Chanond Ruangkritya, CEO of Ananda Development, said Thailand may fall behind other countries if it misses exponential technology while citing the property sector as an example in which today’s challenge is to find the right living solutions for customers rather than just building more and more condominiums.

The advent of “sharing” economy, drone taxies and other exponential technology will lead to a new platform for seamless living solutions.

Orapong Thien-Ngern, CEO of Digital Ventures, a unit of Siam Commercial Bank (SCB), said retail, airlines, hotels, banking and other sectors have already been disrupted by the maturing technology, especially big data, blockchain, and AI so the future of banking, for example, is highly challenging.

As a result, SCB, while is still very profitable, has adopted a lean and agile strategy by having less employees and branches over the next three years, with plans to make many acquisitions for AI and chatbot assets, for example.

Orapong said SCB will also treat big data as a new business as exemplified by Tencent and Alibaba of China, which use bid data to make precise decisions on loan extension as well as providing more convenient deposit services to users of their digital platform.

The Chinese pioneers have enjoyed the great benefits of exponential technology resulting in a loan loss of only one per cent in their lending activity compared to a six per cent loan loss ratio using the traditional system in Thailand.

SCB also aims to turn its business into a digital platform that satisfies customers’ lifestyle and their business and other needs using the exponential technology, according to Orapong.

Dr Millar said the impacts of exponential technology in Thailand as in other countries worldwide will be tremendous over the next decade, especially on jobs, as a forecast shows that 60 per cent of today’s jobs will be vulnerable to AI and automation so the country has to prepare for the consequences.