Saturday, May 14, 2016

Update on the "control tower" debate: ICT sector policy in Korea

The national debate here in Korea over the need for a "control tower" to oversee industrial policy for the nation's ICT sector is in the news again.  This was the subject of earlier posts on this blog (see some of them here) and also an article that I co-authored, published in early 2014 by Telecommunications Policy (PDF version available here).
The renewed attention to this topic is due to the creation earlier this week of a new Presidential Advisory Council on Science and Technology Policy (PACST), as described in the above report on Arirang Television. As shown in the graphic at the left (click for a full size version) from the PACST's own website, this is not the first such council formed, under President Park Geun-hye and her predecessors.

Thursday, May 5, 2016

The sudden rise of fintech!

The Korea Joongang Daily (English edition) carried an interesting article today on the rise of fintech in Korea.   The rapid development is deeply ironic, given the recent history here, including prolonged reliance on Internet Explorer and Microsoft's Active-X plug-in long after most companies, countries and Microsoft itself had stopped using it.  Click on the attached graphic to see a full size version.

Monday, May 2, 2016

Have computers met their match in Starcraft?

Jonathan Cheng, the Seoul based reporter for The Wall Street Journal, recently published a very interesting article that ties into interest in machine learning and artificial intelligence surrounding the highly publicized Go match between AlphaGo and Korea's top human player (see this earlier post).   As Cheng notes at the start of the article, "Humanity has fallen to artificial intelligence in checkers, chess, and, last month, Go, the complex ancient Chinese board game. But some of the world’s biggest nerds are confident that machines will meet their Waterloo on the pixelated battlefields of the computer strategy game StarCraft.
A key reason: Unlike machines, humans are good at lying." Later the article notes that "Demis Hassabis, creator of the artificial-intelligence program that defeated Go grandmaster Lee Se-dol in the recent closely watched match in Seoul, has long eyed StarCraft as a possible challenge for his AI company DeepMind, which Alphabet Inc.’s Google acquired two years ago."
The article mentions that Starcraft was developed in 1998.  It might have added that the game initially gained widespread popularity in South Korea, because its PC Rooms, in the late 1990s, afforded much faster broadband internet connections than most of the rest of the world had at that time.  Furthermore, Starcraft's popularity was an important factor in the rapid spread of household broadband connections (DSL and cable modem) around that time as Hanaro launched an advertising campaign aimed at parents, urging them to install broadband at home, so their children could play Starcraft there, and not come home late at night after playing at a PC Bang.