A Robust AI Ecosystem: How Indonesia and China Can Achieve It Together

China, with its rapid technological advancements, has positioned itself as one of the global leaders in AI research and development.

In today’s digital age, artificial intelligence (AI) has emerged as a cornerstone of technological innovation. Through the Collaborative Research and Innovation in Artificial Intelligence (Korika), the government released the “National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy” in 2020, aiming to maximize the utilization of AI for the well-being of the community and the nation’s progress. This strategy emphasizes the importance of AI education and research, the application of technology in strategic sectors, the development of secure data infrastructure, the formulation of supportive regulations, the establishment of a robust AI ecosystem, and international cooperation in the field of AI.

As previously mentioned, one of the pillars of Indonesia’s National AI Strategy is international cooperation. The government has taken visionary steps by granting a Golden Visa to Sam Altman, the founder of OpenAI, the tech company behind ChatGPT, and other generative AI tools.

China, with its rapid technological advancements, has positioned itself as one of the global leaders in AI research and development. On the other hand, Indonesia, as a country with significant digital potential, has the opportunity to leverage AI across various sectors. But, what if these two nations join forces in a technological partnership? The potential could be immense.

China’s Strength in AI

China has showcased its prowess in AI through various innovations and practical applications. From facial recognition systems at train stations to medical applications assisting doctors in diagnosing diseases, China has integrated AI into its citizens’ daily lives. With full government support and massive private sector investments, China has successfully established a sustainable and robust AI ecosystem. The widespread use of AI in industrial processes, medical research, autonomous vehicles, and various other applications is expected to generate an annual economic value of US$600 billion for China’s economy. According to consultants McKinsey & Co, AI-backed offerings, like facial recognition and machine learning, will boost economic output and reduce costs as companies in the finance, consumer, manufacturing, and technology sectors integrate them into their processes, products, and services. Fully commercializing AI technology in China is projected to yield a value equivalent to 3.7% of the country’s Gross Domestic Product (GDP), or around US$600 billion.

Indonesia’s Potential in AI

Indonesia, a nation with a population of over 270 million, possesses a wealth of data that can be processed for various purposes, including AI development. This data comes from diverse sources, ranging from e-commerce transactions and social media to public services. With such a vast data volume, AI has the opportunity to learn and develop more accurate and efficient models. The rapidly growing digital market in Indonesia, propelled by increasing internet and smartphone penetration, creates a conducive environment for technological innovation. Industries like fintech, e-commerce, and digital education are just a few examples that have utilized AI to enhance their services, such as product recommendations on e-commerce platforms or user behavior analysis in fintech apps. Moreover, the rise of tech start-ups in Indonesia indicates a spirit of innovation among the younger generation. Many of these start-ups focus on developing AI-based solutions, like facial recognition for security, chatbots for customer service, and data analysis for business forecasting. Based on the national strategic plan, the government has identified several priority areas for AI development, including Health, bureaucratic reform, education and research, food security, mobility, and smart cities.

Technological Partnership Opportunities

By combining China’s strengths in AI research and development with Indonesia’s market potential and innovation, both countries have the opportunity to form a mutually beneficial partnership, especially in the development of priority sectors outlined in the Indonesian government’s national plan.

The first partnership opportunity is the exchange of knowledge in the field of AI, which can serve as a catalyst for technological innovation. Collaborating on research projects allows both countries to combine their expertise in addressing technological challenges. Joint workshops and seminars facilitate technical discussions and the sharing of the latest findings. Exchange programs enable researchers and engineers to gain exposure to the latest methods, while the sharing of best practices enhances research efficiency. This collaboration, including joint curriculum development, advances AI research and strengthens bilateral relations in technology.

The second opportunity, aligned with one of the pillars of Indonesia’s national AI strategy, is collaboration in AI training and education. Intensive training programs, internships in Chinese tech companies, and joint workshops and seminars enable the Indonesian workforce to deepen their knowledge and skills in AI. Collaborating on curriculum development and access to advanced research facilities ensures that AI education in Indonesia meets international standards. This collaboration strengthens Indonesia’s human resource capacity and tightens bilateral relations in technology.

The third opportunity is collaboration in developing AI products for the Southeast Asian market. By combining China’s technological expertise with Indonesia’s understanding of the local market, this collaboration allows access to a broader market, resource optimization, and continuous innovation. This collaboration not only offers commercial benefits but also strengthens bilateral relations and lays the groundwork for deeper strategic partnerships.

The fourth opportunity is collaboration in developing policies and regulations for AI-based cybersecurity. Given the importance of cybersecurity in today’s digital era, both countries can collaborate to develop standards, protocols, and policies ensuring data and digital transaction security. This collaboration could provide significant input for the National Cyber and Crypto Agency (BSSN) concerning cybersecurity risk mitigation, strengthening both countries’ cybersecurity infrastructure, and ensuring that AI technology is applied safely and responsibly.

Conclusion

AI has become a cornerstone of technological innovation in today’s digital era. Indonesia, through initiatives like the “National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy” and Korika, has demonstrated its commitment to maximizing the use of AI for the welfare of its citizens. On the other hand, China, with its technological advancements, has positioned itself as a global leader in AI. The combination of China’s strengths in AI research and development with Indonesia’s market potential and innovation creates mutually beneficial partnership opportunities. Through knowledge exchange, training, and joint product development, both countries can create innovative AI solutions for the Southeast Asian market, strengthen bilateral relations, and collectively advance technology in the region.

Tuhu Nugraha
Tuhu Nugraha
Digital Business & Metaverse Expert Principal of Indonesia Applied Economy & Regulatory Network (IADERN)