OpenThaiGPT: The AI Set to Transform Thailand's AI Landscape

OpenThaiGPT: The AI Set to Transform Thailand's AI Landscape

Since the world became acquainted with ChatGPT, tech companies worldwide have been racing to develop Generative AI. When discussing AI, we often think of programs from foreign countries and large multinational corporations, rarely mentioning Thailand's own developments.

However, if you ask Dr. Kobkrit Viriyayudhakorn, President of the Artificial Intelligence Entrepreneur Association of Thailand (AIEAT), he firmly believes that Thai AI can go toe-to-toe with its international counterparts.

This confidence stems from the development of OpenThaiGPT, a Large Language Model (LLM) that has shown in testing to be just as capable as ChatGPT.

From childhood computer interest to AI thesis

Dr. Kobkrit's journey began as an ordinary child who developed an interest in technology by playing with computers in his mother's office.

"When I was a kid, I would go to my mother's office after school and get bored at first," he recalls. "Until I found a computer that no one was using.

Out of curiosity, I tried it out, and an accountant came to teach me how to use it. Once I knew what it could do, I loved it and became interested ever since."

This early fascination led him to pursue the field wholeheartedly, studying at the Sirindhorn International Institute of Technology (SIIT), Thammasat University.

It wasn't until 2007 that he began to focus on AI, when Prof. Dr. Thanaruk Theeramunkong, former president of the Artificial Intelligence Association of Thailand (AIAT), encouraged him to research how AI could distinguish people's names and nationalities.

This project became a turning point, sparking Dr. Kobkrit's passion for AI.

AI academic with business acumen drives AIEAT forward

After graduating from SIIT in 2008, Dr. Kobkrit remained interested in technology and continued his studies, eventually earning a Ph.D. in AI and Knowledge Science from the Japan Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (JAIST). His doctoral research focused on enhancing AI's creativity.

Initially aiming to become a university professor, Dr. Kobkrit's path took him into the startup world, studying business in Silicon Valley before returning to Thailand to apply what he had learned.

With his combined knowledge of business and AI, he became a key figure in establishing AIEAT to help Thai entrepreneurs maximize the benefits of advanced technology.

Dr. Kobkrit explains that while AIEAT and AIAT may sound similar, their purposes differ. "AIAT focuses on creating AI scholars, but because no one has as much business expertise as they should, many teachers encouraged me to help establish AIEAT to promote and drive the AI business in Thailand, especially startups, to go to the regional and global level."

Aiming high with OpenThaiGPT

Since founding AIEAT and becoming its president, Dr. Kobkrit has been working to elevate the Thai AI industry to compete globally. Among all the initiatives, the development of OpenThaiGPT stands out as the most ambitious project.

OpenThaiGPT is a generative AI that compiles Thai language knowledge from various sources, building upon the open-source technology behind ChatGPT. AIEAT has made it free for anyone to use and fine-tune for their specific needs.

In mid-2023, AIEAT released a 7 billion parameter version of OpenThaiGPT, with a 13 billion parameter version set to launch soon, nearly doubling its capabilities.

The association is also training a 70 billion parameter OpenThaiGPT on supercomputers, aiming to create the most intelligent Thai-language AI and release it in early 2024.

The next step is to develop LLMs for neighboring languages, including Burmese, Lao, and Khmer. "If we can do that, it will make Thailand a leader in Southeast Asia, able to compete in artificial intelligence technology on the world stage," states Dr. Kobkrit.

Quality data fuels superior AI

While some may assume OpenThaiGPT's claim to be the best Thai-language AI is expected, given the language's limited use, Dr. Kobkrit and AIEAT have discovered that many countries, such as China, are attempting to develop Thai-supported generative AI to penetrate the Thai market directly. However, they are confident that these programs will never outperform OpenThaiGPT because Thais know better than anyone else where to access high-quality Thai language data sources.

"Good AI is born from quality data," Dr. Kobkrit explains. "If we want our AI to win, we have to have higher quality data, collect, clean, and train the data well. That will help increase the chances of winning even more. The size of the brain and model are secondary considerations."

Adapting to an AI-driven future

Dr. Kobkrit believes that as AI advances, it will increase productivity and alleviate human workload, potentially leading to economic improvements and lower prices. However, he also acknowledges that AI will inevitably replace some human jobs, especially repetitive tasks.

To survive in this new landscape, he advises people to become generalists capable of adapting to multiple roles, as specialists are more likely to be disrupted by AI. "People who know how to use AI will have an advantage, and companies that don't adapt will lose and fail," he warns.

Looking ahead to the next 3-5 years, Dr. Kobkrit predicts five certain developments:

  1. Domestic robot assistants in every home

  2. Shift from keyboard communication to voice and gestures

  3. Simple human tasks replaced by robots, especially in service industries

  4. Intensified competition in AI development, akin to the Cold War space race

  5. Rapid and drastic world changes, with AI surpassing human intelligence

To thrive in this future, he advises people to start learning and practicing AI usage now, particularly prompt engineering.

"We should practice using AI as a prompt engineer and be prepared," Dr. Kobkrit concludes. "It can help us more than we think."


The creation of OpenThaiGPT by Dr. Kobkrit Viriyayudhakorn and AIEAT shows that Thailand can become a big player in the world of AI. However, as AI gets better, it will bring both good things and challenges, changing the way people work and requiring everyone to be flexible.

The next 3-5 years will be a very important time, with AI set to change many parts of life. Those who learn to use AI well and master skills like asking the right questions will do best in this new time.

Thailand's AI journey is a small example of what's happening with AI all over the world. As countries and people deal with this powerful technology, the future will belong to those who can adapt well to a world run by AI. With the right preparation and attitude, Thailand and its people can do well in this new age of artificial intelligence.

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