The dynamically developing technology scene in Vietnam

Steve Koenig, senior director of Market Research and Library at the Consumer Technology Association, shares his views on the dynamically developing technology scene in Vietnam and the world at large.

The Internet of Things (IoT), voice recognition/speech processing, and smart homes are trending around the world. In your opinion, which emerging technology showcased at CES Asia 2017 do you think will be the next big hit?

CES Asia introduced many emerging technologies to the burgeoning and influential Asian marketplace. Key product trends at the 2017 show included IoT, AI, smart home solutions, drones, AR/VR, wearable tech, and automotive technology.

IoT may open a new era for humanity and change the way we do things. What are your thought about this technology trend?

Again, recall that IoT represents a connected revolution that is changing the way we live, work and play, with 88 per cent of global consumer technology spending attributable to connected devices. The last time we saw such change was the industrial revolution in the mid-19th century. This era of innovation gave rise to new materials like steel and new industries like ship-building that created new jobs and improved the human condition.

There were clear challenges like pollution and hazardous working conditions. The IoT revolution will have a similar transformative impact on our society and we are only at the early stages. We can already see some challenges, like privacy and data security, but we are starting to address them and will surely find the right solutions and the right balance—just as we did 150 years ago. The longer-term benefits to the human condition outweigh the short-term disruption we will likely face.

Developers are still having a headache over perfecting IoT devices’ security system. What do you think can be done and how will our future be like if everything around us is smart?

Consumers are finally beginning to take security seriously, largely because we have seen IoT hacks happen on a large scale. We can expect further large-scale breaches as hackers look for new ways to exploit systems and take advantage of the unprepared and unprotected.

The next several years will see a tremendous rise in investment and innovation related to IoT security, with policy makers charting a parallel course to provide guidelines, laws, and regulatory support. However, consumer education is also needed to promote good IoT hygiene to forestall vulnerabilities. Software and engineering alone cannot completely address this issue.

How will these technologies change the way we live? Could you mention some of the changes that we already see these days?

IoT represents a connected revolution that is changing the way we live, work, and play. Today, 88 per cent of global consumer technology spending is attributable to connected devices. Connected innovations are reshaping our society and businesses.

For example, drones will change the way small parcels are delivered. They help to drastically reduce the costs associated with shipping. This will promote consumption and increase online and e-commerce sales. Drones stand to reduce shipping time by a significant margin, as they can work around the clock delivering packages to consumers, with a reduced chance of a jam.

Research from the National Aeronautical Centre revealed that 42 per cent of logistics carriers plan to use UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) for the distribution of cargo in the future.

On top of this, virtual reality (VR) is also a great example of how technology can change people’s lives. We are only at the beginning stages of VR, but can already see how far-reaching the effects of this technology can be—it will be far beyond a simple tool of entertainment. Its use is already explored in the healthcare, education, and retail sectors. The key driving factor is that VR delivers a sense of presence we have never experienced before.

Is Vietnam’s infrastructure ready to adapt to and deploy these technological advances? What are the difficulties and challenges Vietnam will have to overcome?

The product categories and trends at CES Asia reflected the innovations that will impact the Vietnamese consumer technology industry and provided a sneak peek of what products Vietnamese consumers can expect to see on store shelves in the coming months.

Specifically, Vietnam is working to turn the country into a startup nation in the next four years. With the government’s legislative and financial support, I believe Vietnamese startups and businesses can utilise the latest technologies to improve operational procedures and efficiency.

Startups are a key focus at our CES Asia event. Startup Park returned for the second year, featuring startups from mainland China, Poland, South Korea, Taiwan, and the US. This dynamic exhibit area saw entrepreneurs introducing cutting-edge innovations to the Asian market, pitching investors, earning global media coverage, and forming cross-industry partnerships.

Additionally, key tech hubs, including Zhangjiang Hi-Tech Park (ZJ Park), Shanghai’s largest tech park, La French Tech, KNU Start-up & Entrepreneurship Foundation, and Shenzhen Valley Ventures led groups of startups at CES Asia 2017.

This demonstrates how CES Asia is a perfect place for Vietnamese entrepreneurs and startups to learn, experience, and look for potential opportunities to expand in the Asian market.

Currently, automation attracts a lot of interest. In your opinion, how will automation change our life in the long run?

Automation is here to change our lives for the better. Emerging technologies and digitisation will lead to a huge transformation that will create new opportunities for businesses, the services and goods they produce, and their organisational models.

In manufacturing, robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) will be the most adopted technologies over the next five years. In fact, we can already see this happening.

McKinsey Global Institute (MGI) suggested that half of today’s work activities could be automated by 2055, but this could happen up to 20 years earlier or later, depending on various factors, in addition to other wider economic conditions. They also estimated that automation could raise productivity growth globally by 0.8 to 1.4 per cent annually.

In my opinion, the changes will lead to smarter supply chains, smarter products, and high-quality services for consumers. Automation will also lead to better paying jobs as job requirements become more technology-oriented.

Although automation can significantly improve efficiency, there are concerns over robots crowding out manual labourers. What is your point of view regarding this matter?

Contrary to that belief, the latest technological advancements, including automation, will create even more novel ways for people to earn a living. A great example is ride-sharing services, which are helping tens of thousands of drivers work as and when they want. This demonstrates that while supply chain automation will change the world of work, it will offer many new models of employment.

On the other hand, I strongly believe human capital will continue to be a crucial driver of economic growth. Businesses must explore ways to develop the skills of their current and future employees to build a workforce capable of underpinning a modern, competitive business primed for the digital economy. Ultimately, we should expect more human-machine partnerships.

What is your perspective on transhumanism?

Transhumanism is a cultural and intellectual movement that believes we can, and should, improve the human condition using advanced technologies. Likewise, transhumanists are interested in the ever-increasing number of technologies that can boost our physical, intellectual, and psychological capabilities beyond our natural bounds.

In my opinion, transhumanism is definitely a technology movement. However, we need to make better decisions about how to use technologies in general. As such, we should focus on enhancing not only our senses, intellect, and life span, but also our emotional intelligence, empathy, and capacity for balanced decision-making.

A key area that aptly demonstrates this development is wearable technology. Wearables are an example of technology that can monitor human health and activity. It can be seen as an extension to the physical self and boosts our natural self-monitoring capabilities.

What is your point of view on a legal system that regulates the actions and liabilities of AI? How can we solve legal issues concerning robots?

Right now, as we are speaking, law makers are working on this matter. I think when there is a new change, we need time to adjust and produce a legal system that can effectively—and appropriately—address related matters. The same thing happened with the Internet. A full legal section for artificial intelligence, in my opinion, is only a matter of time.

The industry of “driverless cars” is on the rise, with many giants in the game. As there has yet to be a clear legal corridor for self-driving cars, do you have any advice for people who might use such vehicles in the future?

Today, the engineering capabilities self-driving cars far exceeds the policy environment. However, this is beginning to change here in the US, as law makers ramp up discussions and agencies begin to co-ordinate and collaborate in a regulatory context.

Around the world, governments are realising the importance of innovation as it relates to growing their respective economies. In the meantime, consumers will become more familiar with self-driving cars through driver assist technologies, so when law makers give the green light to driverless mobility systems, it will be a natural next step for consumers and not a giant leap.

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All comments [ 10 ]

John Smith 17/7/17 09:45

The digital revolution presents an opportunity for Vietnam to step up its game in global competitiveness.

Gentle Moon 17/7/17 09:46

I’m convinced that Vietnam’s start up community is equally dynamic and creative.

LawrenceSamuels 17/7/17 09:47

What the country needs now is to highlight its unique culture and creativity to attract venture capital funding.

Jane smartnic 17/7/17 09:52

If you focus on tech, you have a great chance. Start right now with new production ways; try to merge the classical industry with the digital one.

yobro yobro 17/7/17 09:53

Vietnam should use its cheap workforce to its advantage as the digital outsourcer.

Love Peace 17/7/17 09:55

It encourages Vietnamese developers that they can make a good product even with only one guy and very simple design.

MaskOf Zero 17/7/17 21:10

WHILE most countries in the ASEAN Economic Community (AEC) have ambitions of developing competitive tech sectors, it appears that Vietnam is best placed to become the region’s Silicon Valley, thanks to successful education policies, government support and an environment of entrepreneurial-ism.

Only Solidar 17/7/17 21:12

Vietnam has the highest-performing computer science students I’ve ever encountered.

Pack Cassiopian 17/7/17 21:14

Silicon Valley-based venture capitalist 500 Startups is confident Vietnam has plenty more talent like Dong Nguyen and recently announced a US$10 million Vietnam-focused fund to invest over a 12-month period.

Deck Hero14 17/7/17 21:15

Vietnam is in an excellent position to dominate the region’s tech industry for years to come.

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