Hong Kong's Ai Future Might Provide A Path To Prosperity
Hong Kong is facing a recession as months of turmoil has taken a toll on the economy. The constant protests have disrupted commerce and slowed down what was already an economy with issues. Hong Kong has lost the explosive growth it once was known for.
As of December 2017, Hong Kong ranked second to last in the Asia Business Council’s Asian Index of Artificial Intelligence.  Since then, Hong Kong has invested more money in artificial intelligence (AI) by launching an artificial intelligence lab, hosting Asia’s largest AI conference for businesses, and changing their Mass Transit Railway MTR system to implement AI.
Alibaba has joined SenseTime (China’s leading cutting-edge artificial intelligence company) in starting an artificial intelligence lab in Hong Kong. A partner in this project includes the Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation (HKSTP). This partnership shows the involvement of the government towards the betterment of Hong Kong in the artificial intelligence sector. Alibaba’s executive vice chairman Joe Tsai said in a statement, “We envision the Hong Kong AI Lab to be an open platform where researchers, startups, and industry participants can collaborate and build a culture of innovation.” The fund that Alibaba is setting up for the lab contains around 130 million dollars.  This large investment through the AI lab will lead to an increase in innovation, which will in turn serve as a new source of tremendous income for Hong Kong. The addition of this lab could make Hong Kong a new hub for AI, giving the country the potential to surpass both China and the United States in artificial intelligence.
Last August, Hong Kong hosted Asia’s largest artificial intelligence event for businesses. This conference is important for the development of AI; it will raise awareness, broaden knowledge, and promote growth as people set out to innovate their own AI driven businesses. This advancement in AI innovations goes hand-in-hand with the goal of the Hong Kong AI Lab as summit attendees can cultivate ideas from the event to then use the lab’s resources to grow their ideas. The summit provides for a place where the leaders of tomorrow can get together and strategize how to expand artificial intelligence businesses globally. By hosting this important conference, Hong Kong is put in a position where it could become the next Asian hub for artificial intelligence.
Furthermore, Hong Kong’s MTR trains have adopted artificial intelligence systems, which has saved them $800,000 a year. As one of the most profitable subways, the MTR is punctual 99.9% of the time.  Artificial intelligence is integrated into the trains through timetabling and engineering work. Timetabling algorithms allow the train system to be more punctual, and for the MTR to dispatch a specific amount of trains at the right times. The algorithm is able to continuously monitor the number of passengers in the trains at any given time. Using this data, the MTR will then know when to dispatch more trains at times of rush hour. The algorithm for engineering-related work is responsible for repairing and maintaining the trains. Although the artificially intelligent system is very useful for the MTR, it has taken over more than 10,000 jobs of train engineers.
Integrating AI so heavily into the Hong Kong economy also has its downsides as people lose their jobs. According to Janet Pau of the Asia Business Council, “Hong Kong’s employment structure is dominated by sectors such as retail, food service, logistics, finance and insurance, with job types ripe for disruption by AI.”  Furthermore, Hong Kong’s high population of 7.4 million will result in many people unemployed after AI takes over jobs. Although AI integration has its disadvantages, it can help Hong Kong diversify its economy and spark an increase in innovation, employment, and wealth.
As Hong Kong continues to integrate artificial intelligence into its businesses, it is determined to rank higher in the Asian Index of Artificial Intelligence and has the potential to become the Asian hub for AI.
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Written by Prthvi Srinivasan & Edited by Alexander Fleiss
 “AI Will Change Employment and Hong Kong Isn't Ready for It.” South China Morning Post, South China Morning Post, 20 Dec. 2017, www.scmp.com/comment/insight-opinion/article/2125026/artificial-intelligence-will-change-job-market-and-hong-kong.
 Russell, Jon. “Alibaba's Newest Initiative Aims to Make Hong Kong a Global AI Hub.” TechCrunch, TechCrunch, 21 May 2018, techcrunch.com/2018/05/21/alibaba-senstime-hong-kong-ai-lab/.
 Campbell-Dollaghan, Kelsey. “The World's Best Subway System Is Powered By an Advanced AI Boss.” Gizmodo, Gizmodo.com, 7 July 2014, gizmodo.com/the-worlds-best-subway-system-is-powered-by-an-advanced-1601103048.