Dr. Bui Hai Hung, CEO of VinAI, said Vietnam can research and develop Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology at a global standard.

VinAI Artificial Intelligence Application and Research Joint Stock Company (VinAI) is a pioneer in AI research, development, and application in Vietnam. Since its establishment in 2019, VinAI has marked its global prominence. The company was named among the top 20 "Global leading AI research companies" by Thundermark Capital.

Dr. Hung, CEO of VinAI, highlighted several breakthroughs of AI in Vietnam over the years and stated that Vietnam should be confident in its ability to keep pace with global AI research and development.

- What significant advances has AI made in Vietnam over the years?

- Five years ago, AI was considered an abstract phenomenon that happened "outside Vietnam." In recent years, that attitude has changed. One major change is a shift in awareness regards to how important AI will be to Vietnam's socio-economic development in the next 5-10 years. Everyone, from the government to the private sector, is increasingly aware of the urgent need for investment in capital, policies, and talent for AI, and they see AI as a key to enhancing Vietnam's competitiveness in the international arena.

The last few years have seen Vietnam place a great emphasis on 'catching up' with global AI technology to ensure the nation stays ahead of the pack.  Vietnam's achievements in the AI field demonstrate the huge advancement of this technology. Numerous training institutions and businesses are heavily investing in AI research and development.

In many universities, AI-intensive training programs are highly sought-after and are extremely popular with students. 

VinAI has consistently shown impressive results in AI research and application. To date, more than 100 publications on AI conducted by VinAI have been accepted at prestigious, top-tier international AI conferences.

These achievements have reinforced the direction of AI development in Vietnam, as well as the capacity for in-depth research on AI at the international level. This fuels more confidence in the Vietnam technology community to believe that AI is within our reach.

- What are the challenges and advantages of AI research and application in Vietnam?

- One challenge is there are a limited number of experts and experienced AI employees who are ready to work on this research and development, who are confident that they can work at the expected international level.

Another challenge is how to bring value to end users and businesses before developing an AI product. Potential customers must be convinced not because of the AI "label" but the true value this technology can serve them. To do this, quality and user experience must be the top priority when creating an AI solution.

In terms of advantages, Vietnam boasts young IT human resources, and STEM education is extremely popular. The young generation, although lacking experience, has talent, enthusiasm, and the ability to learn very quickly. Only a few countries have the advantage of this young and talented IT workforce like Vietnam.

Thus, our key recruitment formula combines experienced experts with human resources who are young and eager to learn. VinAI aims for global quality, which is both a challenge and an opportunity for talented young Vietnamese people.

- How do you assess the Vietnamese enterprises' capacity for AI application and development?

- With 100 million citizens, Vietnam is a potential market for AI products. The most important aspect that decides success in this area is how we apply it in the real world.

VinAI is not the only company investing great resources in AI research and development, but we do it differently. Since our establishment, VinAI has stuck to the goal of researching and developing products that are of high quality, globally competitive, and different from what other companies have been doing so far.

When initially setting our international standards of research, many people were hesitant at first, and asked: "No one has done it before", and "How do we know it will be successful". However, from our very first achievement, it has been clear that Vietnamese enterprises can meet and will sometimes exceed global standards.

Of course, AI is not a one-size-fits-all solution for every business. Nowadays, many Vietnamese companies have the capacity of reaching millions of customers, and it is possible to apply AI, creating value not only for those businesses but also for the global market.

- What are VinAI's criteria when researching, applying and developing Artificial Intelligence products?

- First, our product must not only solve the problems of the Vietnamese market but also address the pain of foreign markets. Technology is not limited to the borders of any country, but has the power to make our world better. Second, we offer AI products that can compete with other similar products in the world.

Take traffic issues in Vietnam for example. Traffic accidents often happen as the driver is distracted, sleepy, drunk, etc. VinAI has successfully developed and has launched a Driver Monitoring System that can observe the driver 24/7. By collecting and analyzing the data extracted from the camera, the system can recognize if a driver is tired, sleepy, or absent-minded, thereby giving the driver a warning for them to focus or have time to rest.

This application can significantly reduce accidents, which is very useful in the current traffic situation in Vietnam.

This product is unique as it solves a problem not only in the Vietnamese market but also in other countries, even developed ones. A "life-saving" technology is always highly applicable - In Europe, according to the latest traffic laws, new cars are legally required to be equipped with a Driver Monitoring System, which opens up a large market for VinAI. We have so far demonstrated our computer vision capabilities that can compare with and even outperform similar products globally. In addition, we have published numerous international research papers, which creates prestige as well as gives our team the confidence to approach customers in foreign markets.

We are developing AI solutions for cars, buses, and trucks and are working with major partners in Europe to expand our products.

- How can you attract talented people?

- Since our establishment, VinAI has followed the mission of bringing Vietnam's AI technology to global level, rejecting the myth that Vietnam is lagging behind in technology.

This common goal convinced many leading Vietnamese AI experts working abroad to return to Vietnam, laying the foundation for VinAI.

We also welcome talented young people, and together with experienced AI foreign experts, we build a strong team to catch up to the world and gain some remarkable achievements.

The VinAI Residency Program, our AI talent incubation training program, recruits more than 20 excellent students each year, providing them with well-trained, specialized AI training with a focus on a world-class research level.

Up to now, residents at VinAI have published more than 40 publications at top-tier international AI conferences. More than 30 VinAI residents have received full Ph.D. scholarships, worth hundreds of thousands of dollars each, and are studying for PhDs at prestigious universities around the world. However, this training model remains small in size. Our challenge now is how to expand the program by increasing the number of participants and providing them well trained AI programs. To do this, VinAI would like to further cooperate with other universities in Vietnam.

- What do you think about the potential of AI in Vietnam?

- Recently, the topic of data has received a large amount of attention. The Vietnamese government and businesses are becoming more aware of the significance of data in AI development, digital transformation, and especially privacy policies, which is a very positive sign.

VinAI, a new player in AI research and development, has only been in operation for three years. However, our achievements have contributed to affirming Vietnam's AI capabilities to the world, giving us more confidence to go above and beyond. Vietnam is fully capable of creating high-quality AI products that make life better, not only in Vietnam but in the whole world.

Content: Phong Van

Photo: Đinh Tung - VinAi

Design: Hang Trinh

Technique: Quoc Tuan