South Korea Will Try to Save Itself From the Inevitable Robot Takeover by Investing $860 Million in AI


South Korea appears to be taking a “if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em” approach to the forthcoming machine revolution. On Thursday, president Park Geun-hye announced plans to invest roughly $860 million in the country’s artificial intelligence industry by 2020, largely as a response to the recent shellacking of countryman Lee Sedol at the hands of—you guessed it—Google’s artificial intelligence bot AlphaGo.


“Above all, Korean society is ironically lucky, that thanks to the ‘AlphaGo shock,’ we have learned the importance of AI before it is too late,” she said, according to Nature.

Some of the funds will go toward the creation of an AI research center, which is also set to receive money from private companies like Samsung and LG. The institute was reportedly already in the works, but AlphaGo’s domination sped things up considerably. The country also plans to set up a separate council for science and technology that will completely revamp its research and development efforts.

The frantic, reflexive sprint toward AI development has led to some concern—which is probably valid—but which also appears to stem from a place of “why not us?”

“I’m very sorry to hear that the government is interested in investing a lot of money in mostly industry, not universities,” a machine-learning professor who requested anonymity told Nature. (Probably worried about getting offed by robots!) “Industry will probably get some useful applications for making some product, but they are basically not interested in the research itself.”

Given that the president referred to artificial intelligence as the fourth industrial revolution, that interest—or is it fear?— probably isn’t going anywhere anytime soon.

That’s right, humans. Invest in us! We won’t murder you in cold blood! — Robots, probably. Excuse me while I google “Stockholm Syndrome at the hands of robots.”




Sophie is a former news editor at Gizmodo.


Capt. Janeway's Imaginary Cat

I am Korean and my mom always said to me that whenever a Korean is represented on a world stage, the rest of the nation starts chasing that interest. For example, ice skating, paino, etc. I can only imagine how much more popular Go has become in Korea now.

But this is kind of the flip side of that. I bet now there are thousands of Koreans interested in making a program that can beat AlphaGo.