Navigating Thailand's AI transition: Balancing innovation with cyber security

MONDAY, JUNE 24, 2024

Cyber security platform provider, Check Point Software Technologies Ltd., postulates the advent of AI stands as a beacon of promise, offering unprecedented opportunities for advancement across various sectors.


In the midst of Thailand's technological evolution to become the leading hub for Artificial Intelligence (AI) in Southeast Asia by 2027 and against the backdrop of the Thai government's initiation of six pivotal AI projects, the nation finds itself at the forefront of embracing AI's transformative potential.

However, as Thailand charts its course towards AI integration, it must navigate not only the realms of innovation and economic growth but also understand the importance of and prioritise cyber security.

According to the Check Point Threat Intelligence Report, an organisation in Thailand has been attacked 1,956 times per week on average for the last 6 months.

This is 61% higher than the global average. This alarming statistic paints a worrying picture of Thailand's current security landscape. With the frequent cyber attacks, alongside its aggressive AI plans, it is crucial that Thailand cover all grounds for a smooth transition.

One significant hurdle lies in bridging the gap between AI innovation and practical implementation. While the potential benefits of AI are aplenty, organisations often face complexities in integrating AI solutions into existing workflows and infrastructure.

Additionally, concerns about data privacy, security, and ethical considerations loom large, prompting a cautious approach to AI adoption across sectors.

An ESG survey found that 87% of security professionals acknowledge the potential of AI in cybersecurity, but are hesitant to implement it. This caution arises from the realisation that these same technologies can be exploited by adversaries to orchestrate increasingly sophisticated cyber attacks.

Thailand's transformative AI challenge

For Thailand to succeed in this AI-era, multiple aspects must be fulfilled. To champion its AI strategy, Thailand must first ensure robust infrastructure and connectivity.

High-speed internet access is paramount, especially in rural areas where the digital divide remains significant. Currently, the internet penetration rate in Thailand is 78.3% and projected to reach 86.6% in 2029.

While it is a strong foundation to start with, bridging this gap is crucial to ensure inclusive AI benefits and prevent disparities in access to AI-driven services. Additionally, investments in cloud computing infrastructure will provide the necessary foundation for AI data storage and processing.

A comprehensive regulatory framework is also necessary to guide AI development and deployment. The good news is Thailand's Personal Data Protection Act (PDPA) already aligns with international standards like the EU's GDPR, ensuring robust data protection. However, developing AI ethics guidelines will ensure the responsible and fair use of AI technologies.

A dedicated AI governance body should also come into play to oversee the AI developments. This ensures compliance with ethical and legal standards while promoting public trust.

Focusing on specific sectors for AI integration will yield the best results to boost economic growth, and address sector-specific challenges. For example, the manufacturing industry is one of Thailand's economic backbone, contributing significantly to the country's Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and employment.

To remain competitive in the global market, AI can be implemented to revolutionise the manufacturing process, improving efficiency, reduce costs and enhance product quality.

Another vital sector of Thailand's economy is agriculture. Enhancing its productivity through AI applications like precision farming, crop monitoring and supply chain optimisation, not only ensures food security but can promote sustainable farming practices, reducing the environmental impact of agriculture and ensuring long-term viability.

Human factor key to AI's success

The success of Thailand's AI ambitions hinges on a skilled workforce and its public perception of AI. Launching awareness campaigns to educate the public about the benefits and risks of AI will help address common misconceptions and fears, like job displacements and privacy infringements.

Engaging various stakeholders, including businesses, civil society, and the general public, in discussions about AI's societal impacts will foster a more inclusive approach to AI development. Promoting transparency in AI applications will also ensure that AI-driven decisions are understandable to non-experts, further building public trust.

Additionally, strengthening STEM education at all levels is critical to building a strong foundation for future AI talent. As we know, there is already a huge cybersecurity talent shortage across the globe. A recent survey revealed that hiring AI-skilled talent is a priority for 94% of Thai employers but 64% had trouble securing them.

This gap will only grow wider if not dealt with. Specialised AI training and certification programs will help upskill the current workforce, ensuring they are equipped to handle AI technologies.

Collaborations with universities to establish AI research centres and offer AI-focused courses and degrees will further accelerate Thailand's AI capabilities.

In the same vein, increased funding for AI research and development is essential. The government and private sector must collaborate to finance AI projects that push the boundaries of innovation.

Establishing innovation hubs and tech parks will provide a nurturing environment for AI startups, fostering collaboration between academia and industry. Public-private partnerships will drive AI advancements, ensuring that Thailand remains at the cutting edge of technology.

Khongsak Kortrakul, Security Engineer Director, ASEAN and Korea at Check Point Software Technologies shares "As Thailand navigates its AI transition, it is important to strike a balance between innovation and cyber security. The convergence of AI technologies with robust cyber security regulations holds the key to unlocking the full potential of AI while safeguarding against emerging threats. In addition, it is also important to look at the human aspects of things, championing public awareness and working towards an AI-trained workforce to navigate the challenges and reap the benefits of AI. Finally, through strategic investments and collaborative efforts, Thailand can pave the way for a sustainable and secure AI-powered future."

Navigating Thailand\'s AI transition: Balancing innovation with cyber security