Malaysia is the top emerging digital economy in Digital Evolution Index


Last week I found an interesting report about digital economy.  It is called “Digital Evolution Index” conducted by the Fletcher School at Tufts University in collaboration with MasterCard and DataCash. Malaysia is the top in the category of “Break out” nations. It is ranked at 23 out of 50 nations and one of the fastest moving countries in the index from 2008 to 2013. 

In this report, I found that only 2.9 billion global internet users receive an access to the internet so far. Remaining people cannot use the internet because there is no access to it.  However, progresses of technologies are going along in many emerging countries, such as Malaysia, China and India.  Let us consider these progresses country by country and what will take place in the future.


The website states that the index is calculated according to the four pillars.

1. Demand: covers consumer income and demographics as well as internet usage

2. Supply: focuses on technology and infrastructure and whether or not they can support digital commerce and transactions.

3. Institutions: accounts for government policy and access to trade.

4. Innovation: rates the environment for creating startups and the overall competitive landscape.

In short, if there are many customers using the internet,  e-commerce companies,  support from governments and innovations promoted, the index will be higher.

Based on the score above, countries are classified into four categories below

1. Stand Out: These countries historically achieve high levels of digital transactions and continue to maintain that level.

2. Watch Out: The common thread among these countries is that they have both significant opportunities and challenges. Their economies function well in spite of limitations.

3. Break Out: Primarily, these are developing countries that have low but growing scores. While they are attractive to investors because of rapid improvement, they’re also riskier.

4. Stall Out: Typically, this group has a history of strong growth, but it’s no longer being achieved. Because of various factors, these countries are at risk of slipping in their development.


It is no surprising that there are lots of developed nations in the category of Stand out. These are US, Canada, Singapore, Hong Kong and so on.  But it is surprising that there are a lot of Asian nations in the category of Break Out. These are Malaysia, Thailand, China. Although India, Philippines, Vietnam and Indonesia are in Watch Out, they very close to Break Out. As you know, China and India have populations over a billion people and ASEAN nations have also six hundred million populations there. It means that the digital economy will be spread out with massive scale there in the future. Especially when android phones are getting cheaper and everyone can afford his/her smart phone in order to connect to the internet.


I live and work in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. I agree with this index as mobile internet is very proficient and the cost is reasonable here.    I pay 30RG (1USD is about 3.6 RG) per month to connect to the internet and voice telephone through my mobile.  The speed of the internet is enough to use e-mails and social network, although it is a little dull to watch the movies.  4G internet service is likewise available if you pay more.

From Malaysia to India, there is vast potential to expand digital economy.  I would like to find out “the next billion users” there.

Is this message spoken by human or machine?!


Firstly, could you watch the video ?   Our senior instructor speaks about himself.  It sounds natural for me,  far better than my poor English. Then the question comes. Who speaks in reality?  Human or machine?  The answer is IBM Watson,  one of the famous artificial intelligence in the world.  When I listened to his (or her?) English, I was very surprised as it sounds very natural and fluent.  I want to have artificial English speakers for a long time in order to develop self speaking apps. Finally, I found it!

This function is one of the new five services provided in IBM Watson Developer Cloud as beta service.   Now it has 13 functions total. Here are new services.

  1. Speech to Text :  Speech can be converted to text in real-time basis. It looks good when I try to convert news broadcast into text.
  2. Text to Speech :  This is used to prepare the video message above without native speakers. It sounds natural for both male and female voices.  English and Spanish (only male) are currently available. One of them is the American English voice used by Watson in the 2011 Jeopardy match
  3. Visual Recognition : When you can input jpg image, Watson can identify what it is with probabilities.  I try several images, however it looks less accurate than I expected so far. In my view it needs improvement to be used in applications.
  4. Concept Insights : According to explanations in the company blog, the Concept Insights service links documents that you provide with a pre-existing graph of concepts based on Wikipedia.   I think it is useful as it works beyond just using keywords in searching information.
  5. Tradeoff Analytics : According to explanations in the company blog, it helps people make better choices when faced with conflicting goals and multiple alternatives, each with its own strengths and weaknesses.  I think it has optimization algorithms in it. It may be useful to construct investment portfolios.

Watson can listen to speeches,  read text and speak it.  It also can see the image and understand what is to some extent. Therefore Watson can do the same thing as human do with new added functions.  Therefore, in theory,  mobile applications can obtain the same functions as people do, such as seeing, reading, listening and speaking.

IBM Watson Developer Cloud has a plan to add new functions as they are ready. Although they are currently beta service,  its quality must be improved gradually as machine learning behind services learns a lot in future. It enables us to develop new services with artificial intelligence to be available in a short period.  It must be amazing. What kind of services do you want? Maybe it will be available in near future !

Note:IBM, IBM Watson, the IBM logo are trademarks of International Business Machines Corporation, registered in many jurisdictions worldwide. 

Mobile services will be enhanced by machine learning dramatically in 2015, part 2


Happy new year !   At the beginning of 2015,  it is a good time to consider what will happen in the fields of machine learning and mobile services in 2015.  Followed by the blog last week,  we consider recommender systems and internet of things as well as investment technologies. I hope you can enjoy it !


3. Recommender systems

Recommender systems are widely used from big companies such as and small and medium-sized companies.  Going forward,  as image recognition technology progresses rapidly, consumer generated data such as pictures and videos must be taken to analyze consumers behaviors and construct consumers preferences effectively.  It means that unstructured data can be taken and analyzed by machine learning in order to make recommendations more accurate. This creates a virtuous cycle. More people take pictures by smartphones and send them thorough the internet, more accurate recommendations are.  It is one of the good examples of personalization. In 2015 a lot of mobile services have functions for personalization so that everyone can be satisfied with mobile services.


4. Internet of things

This is also one of big theme of the internet.  As sensors are smaller and cheaper,  a lot of devices and equipments from smart phone to automobile have more sensors in it. These sensors are connected to the internet and send data in real-time basis.  It will change the way to maintain equipments completely.  If fuel consumption efficiency of your car is getting worse, it may be caused by failure of engines so maintenance will be needed as soon as possible. By using classification algorithm of machine learning, it must be possible to predict fatal failure of automobiles, trains and even homes.  All notifications will be sent to smartphones in real-time basis. It leads to green society as efficiency are increasing in terms of energy consumption and emission control.


5. Investment technology

I have rarely heard that new technologies will be introduced in investment and asset management in 2014 as far as I concerned.  However I imagine that some of fin-tech companies might use reinforcement learning, one of the categories of machine leaning.  Unlike the image recognition and machine translation, right answers are not so clear in the fields of investment and asset management. It might be solved by reinforcement learning  in practice in order to apply machine learning into this field. Of course, the results of analysis must be sent to smart phone in real-time basis to support investment decisions.


Mobile services will be enhanced in 2015 dramatically because machine learning technologies are connected to mobile phone of each customer. Mobile service with machine learning will change the landscape of each industries sooner rather than later. Congratulations!


Mobile services will be enhanced by machine learning dramatically in 2015


Merry Christmas !  The end of 2014 is approaching.  It is a good time to consider what will happen in the fields of machine learning and mobile services in 2015.  This week we consider machine translation and image recognition,  next week recommender systems and internet of things as well as mobile services by machine leaning. I hope you can enjoy it !


1.  Machine translation / Text mining

Skype is a top innovator in this fields.   Microsoft already announced that machine translation between English and Spanish is available by Skype. So in 2015,  it would be possible to translate between English and other languages. Text translation is also available among 40 languages in its chat service.  So language barrier are getting lower and lower.  It is still difficult to answer to questions by computers automatically.  But it is also gradually improved.  Mizuho bank announced that it will use IBM Watson, one of the famous artificial intelligence to assist call center operators.  These technologies make global service to be developed more easily as manuscripts and frequent Q&A are translated from the language to another automatically.  I love that because my educational programs can be expanded to all over the world!


2. Image recognition

Since computers identified the image of cats automatically by deep learning, images recognition technology progresses dramatically.  Soft bank announced that Pepper, new robot for consumers, will be able to read human emotions. In my view, the most important factor to read emotions must be image recognition of  human facial expressions. Pepper could be very good at doing this therefore it can read human emotions.  Image recognition technology is very good for us as each smart phone has a nice camera and it is easy for people to take pictures and send them to clouds and social media.  Image recognition can enable us to analyze massive amount of images, which are sent through internet. That data must be a treasure for us.


These machine learning technologies must be connected to mobile phone of each customer in 2015. It means that mobile services are enhanced by machine learning dramatically. All information around us will be collected through internet and send to machine learning in real-time basis and machine learning will return the best answer for individuals. This will be standard model of mobile services as speed of calculation and communication are increasing rapidly.

Next week we consider recommender systems,  internet of things and investment technology.  See you next week!