Wednesday, November 18, 2020

South Korea's AI powered news anchor

 As reported internationally (Malaysia's story here) Korea now has an artificial intelligence (AI) powered news anchor capable of working 24/7.  Below is a video showing the real anchor (in black) talking with the AI version (yellow jacket).

Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Samsung Biologics to manufacture COVID-19 drug for Eli Lilly


As reported by The Korea Herald, Samsung Biologics  (one unit shown in photo--click for a full size version)announced today that it has signed a long-term agreement with US pharmaceutical firm Eli Lilly and Company to manufacture a novel coronavirus-neutralizing antibody.  As mentioned in previous posts, I can see Samsung Biologics from my apartment on the Incheon Global campus.  The three units already in operation already gives it the largest capacity in the world to manufacture biosimilar drugs.  As mentioned in The Korea Herald, "Along with being a contract management organization CMO, Samsung Biologics engages in the contract development organization (CDO) and contract research organization (CRO) sectors. It has three plants in Incheon, which can crank out 362,000 liters of biosimilars per year, the world's largest volume."   

Also noted in the article, "In August, the company said it will build a fourth plant in the country in response to rising manufacturing demand. The 1.7 trillion-won ($1.4 billion) plant in Incheon will have a bioreactor capacity of 256,000 liters, the company said in a regulatory filing. With the fourth plant's completion, Samsung Biologics will secure a combined bioreactor capacity of 620,000 liters, making it the largest CMO facility at a single location in the world. (Yonhap)"    Construction of the fourth plant here in Songdo seems to be well underway, based on the appearance of a very large construction crane earlier this fall.

Tuesday, November 10, 2020

Digital development and the "telecommunications revolution" in Korea


I read with interest an article in The Korea Times today entitled  "SK, KT, LG Cutting Reliance on conventional telecom businesses.  When I began seriously researching the communications revolution in Korea it was called "The telecommunications revolution in Korea"  which became the title of my first book on the topic.  However, it is important to remember that when that book, The Telecommunications Revolution in Korea was published in 1995, no one was discussing either the third or fourth industrial revolution.   However, there was a general recognition that something called digital convergence was at the center of the revolution in telecommunications.  As is now more widely recognized, the digital network revolution that began in the mid twentieth century grew from three developments:  1)the invention of the transistor, 2) Claude Shannon's mathematical theory of communication which launched information theory and 3) the invention of electronic switching, a key enabling technology for the Internet.   These 20th century developments fueled exponential increases in the human ability to store, compute and communicate digital information.  

With 2020 hindsight it is clear that "the telecommunications revolution" that took hold in Korea during the 1980s was centered on the telecommunications industry but involved much more than that.  The growing power of digital computing and storage that have accompanied the rise of the Internet and digital communications are now leading Korea's three leading telecom companies to reposition themselves.  As noted in The Korea Times article, 

"The three major firms are working to reduce their strong telecom image. SKT is contemplating cutting "telecom" from its official company title, while KT has been calling itself an "AI company" or "digital platform company" in the hope of appealing more to business-to-business (B2B) clients.  

LG Uplus has long taken out the word "telecom" from its name and the company's initiatives in the non-telecom sector have shown strong growth in recent years.

SKT aims to become a global big-tech company with new ICT (information and communications technology) as its base. The company plans to increase its non-telecom businesses to over 35 percent of total sales this year."  

A concluding thought:  all of the non-telecom initiatives sought by KT, LG Uplus and SKT are anchored in important ways by digital communications, storage and computing.  A strong argument can be made that telecommunications was and is central to the digital and industrial revolution.