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NCKU Sets Up AI Service and Data Center. Tainan City Signs MOU with NCKU to Collaborate on Smart City


National Cheng Kung University (NCKU) unveiled its new AI service and data center (AIS&D) in the morning of December 26, 2017 at the College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science. NCKU is the first university in Taiwan to set up an AI data center. Mayor Li Men-yen , National Cheng Kung University President Su Huey-jen, Office of Research and Development Vice President Hsieh Sun-yuan, and College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science Dean Hsu Wei-chou participated in the ceremony. Mayor Li later signed a MOU with President Su Huey-Jen to collaborate on smart city development related projects in the future. Mayor Li expressed that as AI will play a crucial part in transforming the future, Tainan City Government will work with NCKU to develop smart city mechanisms and generate more local employment opportunities. Mayor Li recalled a movie he watched six months ago that showed future technology. It showed a scene where the patient receives diagnosis, drug prescriptions, and even learns about the surgical process by simply lying in a medical pod. There are holographic teachers in schools teaching individual students with holograms. Each student can choose their own course and level according to their own abilities. Li pointed out this is how AI will change the future, leading to different developments and challenges for each job and career. 
Li also mentioned that due to the rapid development of technology, many jobs, such as delivery personnel, will be replaced with machines; taxi drivers may be replaced by driverless cars and self-driving cars in 5 to 10 years. A couple of weeks ago, the supervisor of a large company at Tainan Technology Industrial Park told Mayor Li that their company has already rolled out Industry 4.0 policies, and so far they have successfully launched two dark (worker-less) factories. However, this shift has led to the company having 1200 redundant foreign workers that cannot be sent back to their home countries because the contracts have not yet expired. This indicates the establishment of one dark factory would cut approximately over 1000 jobs. Tainan Technology Industrial Park has seen growing annual production values in recent years, yet the number of employees continues to decline. Every industry is facing different new challenges, Mayor Li remarked, and everyone may feel various degrees of impact to their jobs.
Mayor Li pointed out that in the past computer and PC eras, Taiwan was able to keep up with world trends and compete internationally. But now as we enter in the mobile communication era, especially in the cell phone industry, Taiwan has not been able to leverage the early opportunities and keep up with the trends, consequently missing out on the progress and development of an entire industry and related technologies. Yet now we have a new chance with AI. Mayor Li expressed that he is pleased to know NCKU is working with world-leading NVIDIA, a semi-conductor company which mainly produces and designs GPUs. The city government continues to promote smart city policies and hopefully through the collaboration between industries and the academic and public sectors, the government can provide more local opportunities for young IT talents and transform Tainan into a city suitable for technology start-ups and employment. 
NCKU is a leader in AI applications and also works closely with the local government in urban development applications. NCKU President Su Huey-Jen remarked that the establishment of AIS&D can bring about more opportunities and discover more areas to work in and further develop to improve local city life and industries.
In order to let participants fully experience the convenience AI can bring, the AI self-driving car prototype, the first in Taiwan and produced by NCKU, was displayed outside the venue. The entire vehicle, with the exception of the auto-body which was imported, was developed by the NCKU multidisciplinary team (College of Electrical Engineering and Computer Science, College of Engineering, College of Planning and Design). The core AI technologies and applications used on the vehicle include sensory devices, judgment and decision-making, driving control, and systemic integration (determining if there are pedestrians or other vehicles, figuring out directions, etc.). All related systems are in place and the vehicle is scheduled to go through a dynamic test on Guiren campus during Q1 or Q2 of 2018. With the additional data from AIS&D in the future, the self-driving car can navigate through more complex environments. NCKU also developed an advanced smart robot which performs actions such as aiming at a target and shooting arrows. The smooth demonstration fully presented NCKU’s robots development capabilities. 
NCKU’s AIS&D procured Taiwan's first Nvidia DGX-1 for NTD 7 million. NVIDIA DGX-1 is the world's first purpose-built system for deep learning and AI-accelerated analytics. The system can significantly shorten data processing time, visualize more data, increase structural deep learning speed, and design complicated neural networks. It can process data at the speed of nano-seconds, providing computing capability equivalent to a computer cluster of 250 x86 servers with a total bandwidth of DGX-1 and a maximum data transfer speed of 768GB per second.