Malaysia gears up for AI-powered future

AI advancements are deemed crucial for productivity gains, but concerns over societal impacts have prompted calls for workforce upskilling.
By: | February 16, 2024

Malaysia is diving headfirst into the digital economy, with nearly 70% of Malaysia’s RM255 billion (US$53.3 billion) approved investments targeting this rapidly growing sector, according to Tengku Datuk Seri Zafrul Abdul Aziz, Minister of Investment, Trade and Industry of Malaysia.

“We have AI factors, that is what we call it now, instead of data centres,” he said in an interview with CNN, adding that organisations like Nvidia have shown keen interest in establishing a presence in Malaysia to bolster AI development.

He emphasised that AI advancements are pivotal for enhancing productivity across various professions, albeit with concerns regarding its societal impacts. He said, “Jobs of the future may be very different given the advancement in technology, especially generative AI. With AI, there are many other job functions which will be involved. So, we need to ensure reskilling and upskilling (of employees) to prepare for the new jobs of the future.”

Nvidia Corporation, a US-based tech giant, has pledged support for Malaysia’s AI aspirations, aiming to assist in developing the country’s AI ecosystem. This includes establishing a centre of excellence for AI learning and research, along with the creation of Malaysia’s AI cloud computing system, reported New Straits Times.

Regarding minimum wage rise proposals across ASEAN nations, Tengku Zafrul stressed the importance of aligning wage increments with productivity growth. “We must ensure that whatever increase in wages is linked to increasing productivity and that is why I am stressing investment in the green and digital economy because it increases the economic complexity of a country and its industries,” he said.

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He also mentioned discussions around progressive wages, indicating a shift towards linking wages with productivity gains. “This can only be achieved if we increase productivity. So, wages need to be linked to productivity or else organisations will find it difficult to implement an increase in compensation,” he concluded.