KT Corp makes $5.4 billion bet on AI

South Korean telco KT Corp aims to generate KRW1 trillion ($773.1 million) from AI-based services by 2025.

Nick Wood

June 22, 2023

4 Min Read
Artificial Intelligence Concept. Microprocessor with the letters AI.
Artificial Intelligence Concept. Microprocessor with the letters AI.

South Korean telco KT Corp aims to generate KRW1 trillion ($773.1 million) from AI-based services by 2025.

To accomplish this goal, it expects to plough $5.4 billion into its AI business by 2027.

It’s a sizeable bet, but KT Corp said in a statement (in Korean) on Wednesday that its various AI-related services have already turned over $617.9 million to date.

These include AI contact centre (AICC), a customer care service that uses natural language processing to either direct service agents to the relevant solution, or automate interactions entirely. In March, KT launched an AI-powered logistics service in Singapore, in partnership with Singtel. It draws on multiple real-time information sources to provide optimal route-planning for delivery companies.

To further accelerate the growth of its AI business, KT plans to scale up its activities in the robotics, healthcare and education sectors, devoting entire divisions to each vertical.

In the healthcare space, KT will use AI to compile bespoke care plans for individuals suffering from chronic conditions. Based on data gathered from doctors and nurses, it aims to improve remote management of long-term illnesses.

To help people maintain a healthy lifestyle, KT has also developed machine vision software, called AI Food Tag, that can identify specific ingredients and calculate their nutritional composition, all from a photograph uploaded by the user. KT plans to upgrade AI Food Tag’s capabilities, enabling it to recognise a broader range of foods, including restaurant meals and processed foods.

When it comes to robotics, KT has developed a platform that uses AI to gather and analyse data from connected robots, and then make improvements to how they operate. It claims to be able to collect data from thousands of robots in seconds, and analyse 60 million individual data points per day.

It also offers a range of actual robots, from food-servers, quarantine robots that analyse and sterilise the air in hospitals, and indoor delivery robots. It is also working on an outdoor delivery robot.

Meanwhile, in the education sector, KT’s AI Future Education Platform claims to be able to automate lesson planning, and then measure the outcomes of those lessons based on feedback from students, which in turn is used to recommend appropriate educational material.

“KT, as Korea’s leading AI company, will apply its accumulated experience, capabilities, infrastructure and know-how to the AI business as it aims to establish itself as a customer-oriented AI service provider,” said Song Jae-ho, vice president and head of KT’s AI/DX convergence business division. “We will do our best to raise the level of competitiveness of the AI industry in Korea as a whole, as well as KT’s future growth.”

KT’s announcement was made just days after fierce rival SK Telecom revealed a raft of Silicon Valley-based partners that it hopes will further its own AI ambitions.

They consist of AI-based robotics company CMES, chatbot developer Scatter Lab, industrial AI specialist MakinaRocks, and generative AI platform provider FriendliAI.

These four join the seven new AI partners that SKT announced at this year’s Mobile World Congress.

“Now with our AI partners on board, we have completed the blueprint for driving new growth in the global market,” said SKT chief executive Ryu Young-sang, in a statement on Sunday. “We will work together to develop diverse cooperation opportunities in AI, and bring our AI technologies and services to the global market.”

What stands out about these announcements is the stark difference in tone compared to how AI is being presented in Europe and the US.

KT and SKT talk fairly dryly about AI being merely a tool that enables them to better serve customers and grow their businesses. In the West, it is impossible to do the same without at least paying lip service to ethics and ‘responsible AI’.

It suggests one of two things. Either KT and SKT are cognisant of their duty to develop AI in a responsible manner, and they’re just getting on with it without any of the histrionics. Or they aren’t taking their responsibility seriously enough, and they might inadvertently create AI services that have unforeseen negative outcomes.

Whatever the case may be, it highlights the complexity of trying to come up with a coherent, global framework for regulating AI. Just because Europe and now the US are working on ways to protect their citizens, it won’t necessarily stop these same people from falling victim to an AI developed in a jurisdiction that hasn’t implemented those same protections.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox. Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

About the Author(s)

Nick Wood

Nick is a freelancer who has covered the global telecoms industry for more than 15 years. Areas of expertise include operator strategies; M&As; and emerging technologies, among others. As a freelancer, Nick has contributed news and features for many well-known industry publications. Before that, he wrote daily news and regular features as deputy editor of Total Telecom. He has a first-class honours degree in journalism from the University of Westminster.

Get the latest news straight to your inbox.
Register for the Telecoms.com newsletter here.

You May Also Like