Selangor Journal
Economist Geoffrey Williams, seen in this file photo, says Malaysian universities must start adopting AI by prioritising training among academicians. — Picture via LINKEDIN/PROFESSOR GEOFFREY WILLIAMS

Economist: Anwar’s call to accelerate building of AI ecosystem timely

KUALA LUMPUR, May 13 — The call by Prime Minister Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim to hasten the pace in building an artificial intelligence (AI) nexus is timely as currently, any work towards this in Malaysia is minimal or non-existent, says economist Geoffrey Williams.

He said such an ecosystem is vital to ensure that Malaysia cultivates an ample AI workforce and effectively stimulates economic growth in the future.

Williams reckons that any research from Malaysia on developing AI applications is likely to be very small.

He said while there was an announcement that the government would look into establishing the first AI polytechnic in the country, most universities here are yet to have AI as part of their programmes and research, except perhaps in specific modules in their information technology (IT) departments.

“There are only ad hoc activities in AI at a relatively low level or early stage being carried out in Malaysia’s universities. There is very little research, very little teaching and no significant attempt to look at the potential economic impact,” he told Bernama.

Thus, he proposed local universities start adopting AI by prioritising training among academicians, while at the same time taking time to integrate AI into universities’ curricula, which would help build the much-needed ecosystem for AI to succeed.

“To integrate AI into curricula, academics themselves must be proficient in AI and they are not. There are many opportunities to use AI for course development and content creation as well as for research but academics have simply not begun this process,” he added.

The factors behind this are many, but some of the most important include regulations that slow down the creation of new programmes, and a lack of awareness and training in AI among academics, he noted.

Williams also stressed that the government must conduct thorough research to create policies to deal with the impact of AI so that people thoroughly benefit from it.

Besides making the call to hasten the pace for an AI nexus in the country, Anwar, who is also the finance minister, launched the AI Talent Roadmap 2024-2030 and the Faculty of Artificial Intelligence (FAI) and the Malaysian Artificial Intelligence Consortium (MAIC) on Friday.

He said the governance of the AI ecosystem must be systematic and have professional and skilled talents with AI working with multinational corporations (MNCs) and the MAIC pursuing the growth of AI.

— Bernama

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