FPT Chairman Dr. Truong Gia Binh and Professor Yoshua Bengio — Founder and Scientific Director of Mila — Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute, who is also known as ‘The Godfather of AI’, sat down for a cross-border conversation on the future of AI and how FPT can help transform Vietnam into the world’s AI powerhouse.


How AI is transforming the world

Sharing his view on the “new normal” world driven by COVID-19, Prof. Yoshua said, “At the beginning of the pandemic, the scientific community, myself included, thought a lot about what can be done to help the community based on their experience and knowledge. Like in many other places, at Mila, we have also devoted a lot of energy to many projects, trying to use AI and Machine Learning to help fight the pandemic. It was a lot of pressure, but it also brought a lot of excitement and valuable experience.”

“We have learned many things, for example, how to use AI to discover new drugs or ingredients for drug production or solve some optimization problems that we are facing in the community. And I also realized the importance of coming together across the planet to meet global challenges like the pandemic or climate change, which is the only way we can overcome these challenges.” Prof. Yoshua added.

“It’s amazing how AI can serve and save human’s life.”, Dr. Binh responded. According to FPT Chairman, FPT had taken prompt and effective measures to support the community and businesses. The group recently launched FPT eCovax, its “digital antibodies” for enterprises. Its solutions, such as FPT.AI, Voicebot, Chatbox, have been assisting doctors, nurses, and COVID-19 patients with at-home isolation procedures and self-treatment information.

I want to congratulate you on all the work you have done. What FPT is doing for the community, for Vietnam and for future generations is going to transform your country”, Prof. Yoshua said. “I also believe that AI is going to transform the world. In the future, AI brings not only exponential economic growth but also great social values ​. But of course, we have to know how to apply AI in the right way”, he added.

The “Godfather of AI”, Professor Yoshua Bengio, Founder and Scientific Director of Mila — Quebec Artificial Intelligence Institute


“Whether AI can match and replace human intelligence is a matter of science fiction. At this point, the AI ​​system we create is, in my opinion, still very simple and primitive. There’s a long way to go, but hopefully, in the right direction, we will become individually and collectively wiser to make better choices for humanity.”, Prof. Yoshua said.


How to Transform Vietnam into the World’s AI Center

FPT has gone “from zero to hero”, realizing its dream of putting Vietnam on the world technology map as the Top 5 most attractive destinations for software development. Its current ambition is to turn Vietnam into the AI’s global house. The company has a series of efforts, including building an AI township and university in Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh, partnering with Mila and sending its students there, establishing FPT Smart Cloud, launching the FPT AI platform.

To help FPT fulfil this ambition, Prof. Yoshua emphasized that FPT should keep “dreaming, learning, and researching”.

“First of all, you have to continue dreaming. You talked about the story of FPT’s dream 20 years ago. In my case, 35 years ago, when I was a graduate student, I was dreaming about AI and a machine system functioning like a human brain. And I had continued to pursue my dream by continuously believing in the scientific questions even when the concept was novel and difficult to understand”, he explained.

“The second thing is quite obvious and FPT is already doing it, which is education. This is the hard part. It is not easy for Vietnam to attract leading researchers abroad, and even some qualified Vietnamese talents will study AI in other countries. This forces us to generate a large flow of solid engineers, scientists and entrepreneurs in AI with skills that can drive the AI ​​revolution for Vietnam”, Prof. Yoshua added.

“Vietnam is a country of abundant resources, and together with enough investment in education at all levels, especially higher education, we will make this a reality. Encouraging startups is also important because large corporations usually lack flexibility comparing to hundreds of start-ups going in many different directions. Just like science, innovation is exploration.”, Prof. Yoshua said.

“Another long-term investment is to build AI research centers within the companies and collaborate with the academics. I feel like you’re already doing all the right things”, he concluded.

Dr. Truong Gia Binh, Founder and Chairman of FPT Corporation

“Few FPT technology experts are fortunate enough to access Mila’s leading research programs and professional training. I believe that not only FPT staff, but many young Vietnamese talents also dream of having the same opportunity to study at Mila. Therefore, I would like to suggest that Mila and FPT should open an AI research institute as an affiliate of Montreal’s institute in Vietnam. In that way, we can offer more chances for Vietnamese talents to approach, experience, learn AI in-depth. This could be a big step for AI development in Vietnam and in the region. What are your thoughts on this brave idea?”, FPT Chairman asked.

It’s certainly worth exploring, and you’re right that having a couple of Vietnamese PhD students coming here to work with us will not bring about major changes. There should be a center that can accommodate more human resources in Vietnam. We are happy to help, and exactly how we can do that will need further discussion. But I like that dream, and I believe that something like this must happen.”, Prof. Yoshua responded.

Recognized worldwide as one of the leading experts in artificial intelligence, Yoshua Bengio is most known for his pioneering work in deep learning, earning him the 2018 A.M. Turing Award, “the Nobel Prize of Computing,” with Geoffrey Hinton and Yann LeCun. In 1993, he founded the Mila Research Institute with a mission to be a global pole for scientific advances that inspire innovation and the development of AI for the benefit of all.

In June 2020, FPT cooperated with Mila in three major areas: training and exchanging AI quality resources; strategic consulting to build an AI research center in Binh Dinh and connect business opportunities in Mila’s ecosystem. 17 young Vietnamese technology experts have had access to Mila’s top training/research programs. FPT has successfully formed a team of over 200 AI engineers and experts at the FPT.AI Research Center in Quy Nhon, Binh Dinh.