From the AI situation in Hong Kong to Zuck's viral video – here's your weekly round-up

Hong Kong, just like the rest of the world, had its "aha" moment with artificial intelligence (AI).

From the AI situation in Hong Kong to Zuck's viral video – here's your weekly round-up
Source: Pexels/Matheus Bertelli

🤔What’s going on?

When OpenAI’s ChatGPT launched in November 2022, it seemed like a game-changer – think back to when the iPhone came out in 2007 or when the first graphical desktop environment was created in 1980. Everywhere we turned, AI was being mentioned, whether it was on the news, on social media or at work. It was a moment where we just knew things were going to be different from that point on.

Hong Kong, just like the rest of the world, had its "aha" moment with artificial intelligence (AI), and, in the past year and a half, the city has enthusiastically embraced AI, finding new and creative ways to use this technology.

While AI will definitely have a major impact in the long term, from military uses to medicine to transportation, AI tools like ChatGPT have already started shaking things up in business and education, making us rethink how we work and learn. So, how has it been adopted in Hong Kong so far?

🏢AI in Hong Kong’s business scene

Hong Kong businesses are fully embracing generative AI. A survey released on May 20 by Amazon found that 84% of corporate employees use AI tools in their work, and that number is expected to rise to 94% by 2028. Microsoft and LinkedIn have similar findings, reporting that 88% of knowledge workers in the city use generative AI tools for work. Compare that number to the global average of 75%.

“AI is a business imperative. With generative AI being used by 88% of knowledge workers at work, it is impressive to see employees in Hong Kong are much more willing to empower themselves to adopt innovations than most other regions,” said Cally Chan, the General Manager of Microsoft Hong Kong and Macau, in a statement. 

The industry that seems to be welcoming AI with open arms the most is the financial services sector. Amazon's survey shows that 91% of respondents in this industry are using AI tools today, with that number expected to grow to 94% by 2028. On top of that, about 8 in 10 people said they had “intermediate” or “advanced” AI literacy. 

“The rise of generative AI presents an unparalleled opportunity for Hong Kong businesses to drive innovation, enhance productivity, and stay ahead of the curve. However, nurturing an AI-skilled workforce is essential to unlocking the full potential of these technologies,” said Robert Wang, the Amazon Web Services managing director for Hong Kong and Taiwan, in a statement. 

The thing is though, while AI has made waves in most industries across Hong Kong, both of these surveys suggest that employees and bosses aren’t exactly on the same page. Even though more than 4 in 5 corporate workers in Hong Kong are using AI, only 23% of respondents said their CEOs had clearly communicated about AI and its importance, according to Microsoft and Linkedin. 

From the CEOs' perspectives, Amazon reported that 70% of employers said finding AI-ready employees was crucial for their business, but 73% said it was challenging to find the AI-capable talent they need. Both employees and employers agreed that the resources available for AI training were lacking because they were either unaffordable, time-consuming or just difficult to find. 

But, with that all said, one thing is clear: Hong Kong’s corporate sector has dived headfirst into AI, and this trend is only set to grow over the next five years.

🏫What about AI in Hong Kong’s schools?

At first, Hong Kong’s schools didn’t know how to approach the ChatGPT situation, but the city's centralized education system and strong focus on academics helped them adapt quickly, within months of the new technology going mainstream. 

A 2021 research paper from Dr. Tianchong Wang, who was working at The Education University of Hong Kong at the time, and Professor Eric Chi Keung Cheng from the Yew Chung College of Early Childhood Education, investigated barriers to AI adoption in Hong Kong. 

“We saw that AI would be essential for the future of education in Hong Kong. As the first step, we were trying to understand what might be the challenges when schools had to adopt AI,” Wang told TMS. “We turned out to be right,” he added with a chuckle, “It just happened more quickly.” 

Click here for the full story.

Some of the biggest Headlines this week

📰Gaza update: Hamas and Israel are reportedly on the brink of a ceasefire deal, with a senior official from the US saying its framework is “now in place.” If an agreement is reached, it’s said it would involve a temporary ceasefire leading to an end of the war and the release of all the remaining Israel hostages, living and dead. Meanwhile, Iran-backed Hezbollah launched more than 200 missiles and “a swarm of drones” at Israeli military positions, which it said was in retaliation for a strike that killed one of its senior commanders.

🥼Crush in India: At a religious gathering in Northern India this week, at least 121 people, mostly women and children, were killed in a crush, according to officials. The victims are still being identified, and it’s not yet clear what caused the tragedy.

🚓Hong Kong kidnapping: On Thursday, the city’s police rescued a 3-year-old boy who had been kidnapped Wednesday from a shopping center in Tseung Kwan O and held for an alleged ransom of more than HK$5 million (US$640,100). The boy was taken to the hospital for an examination, and two women were arrested in connection with the crime.

🤝Xi meets Putin: Russia and China are both members of the Shanghai Cooperation Organization (SCO), a Eurasian group founded in 2001 as a counterweight to the West. It now has 10 member nations, including India, Pakistan, Iran and, now, Belarus. Its annual meeting was held this week, where it welcomed Belarus and the newest member, and Chinese President Xi Jinping and Russian President Vladimir Putin met for the second time this year. The Global Times reported that Xi underscored the importance of bilateral relations with Russia during the meeting and said the two should uphold “the original aspirations of lasting friendship.”

📩UK election: It’s election time in Britain, and as of the latest reports, it looks like Britain’s Labour Party is headed for a landslide victory. In that case, the center-left party’s leader, Keir Starmer, would take the position of prime minister, and it would put the Labour Party back in power after 14 years.

💰China tariffs: Earlier in June, the EU announced some new tariffs on Chinese-made electric vehicles (EVs), as it’s been wanting to curb the influx of Chinese EVs to protect its domestic automakers. Now, the EU is set to impose tariffs of up to 37.6% on EV imports from China starting Friday, which has ramped up trade tensions with Beijing. But there is a four-month window where they’ll stay provisional while negotiations are expected between the two. China has said it will take "all necessary measures" to protect its interests.

📃HKU fake creds crackdown: Around 30 master's students at the University of Hong Kong's Business School used fake documents to get into the school, with that number expected to rise to 80-100, according to Dean Cai Hongbin. The school found that the falsified docs were done by agencies in mainland China or overseas. Cai did say that some of the students didn’t know the agencies had doctored their documents, but some students and parents knew and even participated. In response, the school will tighten the verification process, for example, by requiring third-party authentication of documents. The school is still considering its next steps to deal with the situation.

🤑Saks to buy Neiman Marcus: The parent company of Saks Fifth Avenue is buying upscale rival Neiman Marcus Group, which includes Neiman Marcus and Bergdorf Goodman stores, for US$2.65 billion, and Amazon will hold a minority stake. The new entity will be called Saks Global and will include brands Saks Fifth Avenue, Saks OFF 5TH, Neiman Marcus, Bergdorf Goodman and the real estate assets of Neiman Marcus Group and HBC (which bought Saks in 2013). But, all of the stores will continue to operate under their existing brand names.

🚙BYD’s Thai plant: Chinese EV giant BYD has opened its first plant in Thailand this week, part of its expansion into Southeast Asia. The factory was built in 16 months and should be able to produce 150,000 cars annually. Thailand is a strategic spot for this new plant, as the country has set a goal to have 30% of its vehicles made in the country to be electric by 2030.

🧳Mainland permits: Chinese officials have announced that non-Chinese nationals who are permanent residents of Hong Kong and Macau will be able to apply for five-year travel permits to the mainland starting from next Wednesday. Although they’ll be able to travel for short-term reasons like investment, visiting family, business, events and tourism, they won’t be able to work, study or participate in journalistic activities. 

🎭Inflatables in Hong Kong: From Friday until August 11, Hong Kong’s Central Harbourfront will host a series of large-scale inflatable installations inspired by famous world landmarks. There will be inflatable versions of the UK’s Stonehenge, the Moai of Easter Island in Chile, the Pyramids of Giza in Egypt, Italy’s Tower of Pisa in Italy and the Arc de Triomphe in France. The "Inflatable Wonders" exhibition is inspired by images from Armenian artificial intelligence (AI) studio Joann and will be lit up at night.

Inflatable Wonders Hong Kong
Source: Summerfest@Central

🎞️Hong Kong at the movies: “Twilight of the Warriors: Walled In” has become the city's most-watched film ever. Since its May 1 premiere, this martial arts epic set in the infamous Kowloon Walled City has drawn nearly 1.6 million viewers, surpassing last year's court drama “A Guilty Conscience.” With a box office haul of HK$105 million (US$13.4 million), it stands as the highest-grossing film of the year.

🏄‍♂️Zuck goes viral: July 4 was Independence Day in the US, and Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg celebrated the holiday by wake surfing in a tux, with a drink in one hand and an American flag in the other. The video went viral, which you can check out here. Check out some of the responses from netizens below.

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Written and put together by Kevin McSpadden, Christine Dulion, Elize Lanorias and Krystal Lai.