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Topic: How Should Vietnam Respond to the Recent Developments in Artificial Intelligence?

The recent launch of ChatGPT (Chat Generative Pre-Trained Transformer) by OpenAI on November 30, 2022, serves as a stark reminder that the coexistence of human society with Artificial Intelligence (AI) is not a distant future scenario but a pressing contemporary issue. This was the focal point of discussion at the 22nd VIOIT Dialogue Session, organized by the Institute of Strategy and Policy for Industry and Trade (VIOIT), under the theme "How Should Vietnam Best Respond to the Recent Developments in Artificial Intelligence?"

The dialogue took place on July 25, 2023, at 2:00 pm, conducted in two modes: physical participation at the Institute's headquarters at No. 17 Yet Kieu, Hanoi, and online via the Zoom application. Dr. Nguyen Van Hoi, the Director of the Institute for Strategy and Policy Studies, presided over the session, while Mr. Ayumi Konishi, Senior Advisor at the Institute for Strategy and Policy Research (VIOIT) and Senior Advisor to the CEO at the Center for Multilateral Cooperation on Development Finance (MCDF), moderated the discussions.

The dialogue witnessed the presence of departmental leaders, researchers from the Institute of Strategy and Policy for Industry and Trade, and participation from domestic and international experts, including Ms. Kelly Forbes, Managing Director of the Asia Pacific AI Research Institute; Ms. Rya Hiromoki, an AI research expert from Japan; and Mr. Peter Bullack, a research expert at the US AI Research Center, and a number of other international scientists and researchers who have taken a keen interest in and participated in VIOIT dialogue sessions in recent years.

In Vietnam, Prime Minister's Decision No. 127/QD-TTG was issued on January 26, 2021, approving the "National Strategy for Research, Development, and Application of Artificial Intelligence until 2030." Nevertheless, questions have arisen regarding the timeliness of Decision No. 127, given the recent evolution of AI chatbots. Consequently, the dialogue aimed to explore whether the overarching policy directions outlined in the Prime Minister's Decision remain relevant and, if not, what adjustments are necessary.

In light of concerns that AI could potentially displace jobs in countries like Vietnam, which rely on labor-intensive industries to fuel economic growth, discussions also revolved around the "future of jobs in Vietnam."

Therefore, the primary focus of the dialogue encompassed three key areas:

Appropriateness and Sufficiency of Strategic Direction: Are the strategic directions set out in Prime Minister's Decision 127 still suitable and adequate, especially considering the recent developments in AI?

Policy Measures for Implementation: What policy measures are necessary to translate Vietnam's development objectives into tangible actions? Does Decision 127 provide adequate guidance in terms of these policy measures?

Labor Market Implications: What are the potential labor market consequences of increased AI utilization in Vietnam? Can AI truly displace jobs in developing countries reliant on labor-intensive tasks for economic development? What steps are needed to safeguard jobs for Vietnam's workforce while promoting wider AI adoption?

During the dialogue, Mr. Tran Ngoc Luan, Deputy Head of the Department of Digital Economy and Innovation Research at VIOIT, delivered a presentation titled "Embracing the Future: How Vietnam Can Respond to the Recent Developments in Artificial Intelligence."

Mr. Nguyen Van Hien and Mr. Dang Hoang Mai from VIOIT's International Cooperation Team also made presentations on the topics: "Impacts of Applying Artificial Intelligence to the Labor Market in Vietnam" and "What Vietnam Must Do to Cope with the Current Strong Wave of Artificial Intelligence."

Drawing from the discussions on these topics, the dialogue received extensive comments, contributions, and insights from experts and businesses both within and outside the Institute. Key takeaways from the dialogue included:

The National Strategy for Research, Development, and Application of Artificial Intelligence until 2030 has set ambitious goals for Vietnam to become a regional and global leader in AI development and application. Vietnam possesses the potential to achieve these objectives but must address challenges related to technology infrastructure, data collection and management, human resource development, AI application, privacy concerns, and ethical considerations.

In addition to focusing on human resource development, Vietnam must conduct awareness campaigns to educate industries, organizations, and individuals about the benefits and impacts of AI application, fostering active participation and preparedness for new scenarios.

There is a need for a harmonized role for the State in both regulation through the establishment of laws and regulations and in creating a conducive environment for various stakeholders, including organizations, individuals, the public sector, and the private sector, to engage in AI research and application for Vietnam's development.

As a result of the dialogue, the Organizing Committee synthesized the recommendations and suggestions from presentations and discussions to propose solutions and recommendations to the relevant authorities in the near future.

The dialogue concluded successfully on the same afternoon.

Ngo Mai Huong

Department of Information and Trade Promotion - VIOIT