Report on Artificial Intelligence: an overview of policies and developments in Taiwan (2020)

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The report can be downloaded here

Taiwan is a world-leader in the area of semiconductors, information and communication technology (ICT) and manufacturing. Due to these strengths, Taiwan has the excellent foundation to build upon and advance in Artificial Intelligence (AI). AI is increasingly receiving attention worldwide due to its expected potential to disrupt industries and transform the current way of working. The Taiwan government is actively supporting AI developments with ambitious AI policies. The Executive Yuan published a 4-year AI Action Plan with a budget of 38 billion NTD (1.1 billion EUR) and the Ministry of Science and Technology (MoST) published a 5-year AI Strategy with a budget of 16 billion NTD (490 million EUR). Important topics included in these AI policies are the publication of open data, the encouragement of AI start-ups, the attraction of multinationals, the cultivation of AI talent and the stimulation of AI research.

This report aims to provide an overview of the current status of all these aspects in Taiwan. Opportunities for collaboration between the Netherlands and Taiwan are listed.

In terms of access to data, Taiwan is actively making data publicly available. Currently there is an open data platform with data on 27.000 categories. Looking at health in particular, Taiwan has more than 20 years of comprehensive medical data available via the National Health Insurance (NHI) database, which is of great benefit for AI in health. Even though

Taiwan does not have a large presence of AI start-ups, the start-up ecosystem does show increasing funding possibilities for AI start-ups and the availability of numerous (government-backed) start-up accelerators and incubators. These start-up accelerators and incubators are also supported by multinationals who are active in AI in Taiwan, providing cloud capacity and funding. Multinationals such as Google, Microsoft and IBM have chosen Taiwan to establish their regional AI R&D centers. Their reasoning relates to the availability of subsidy programs and government support, the manufacturing and ICT strengths of Taiwan and the availability of AI talent.

Taiwan is successful in preserving their home-grown AI talent, with annually more than 10.000 computer science graduates. With the establishment of the Taiwan AI Academy, professionals in Taiwan are trained in AI. The Taiwan AI Academy provides training programs in engineering as well as in AI-domain knowledge. Furthermore, Taiwan is successful in attracting foreign AI talent, which makes Taiwan an AI inviting country. Local universities, hospitals and research institutions are collectively active in AI research with an open mind-set for collaboration. Important AI research organizations are the four AI innovation research centers (established by the MoST) and Taiwan AI Labs, a non-profit private research organization. The combination of a strong ICT and manufacturing industry and quality healthcare system, abundance of talent, government policies and data access illustrate the strengths of Taiwan in AI.

It is recommended to learn from the concrete activities by which Taiwan accelerates the AI developments and use these as an example for further AI developments in the Netherlands. Specifically, the AI talent cultivation, AI research project approach and attraction of multinationals in Taiwan may be taken as learning points for the Netherlands.