South Korea’s top mobile carrier SK Telecom Co. named Yoon Kim, former developer of Apple’s virtual personal assistant Siri, to head its newly-launched artificial intelligence research center.
The company said Tuesday that Kim has been appointed to lead its AI research center, a unit launched in December to conduct research in AI-related technologies and review their commercial applications.
Kim received his bachelor’s degree from Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST) and his Ph.D. in electrical engineering from Stanford University in 2000. During his Ph.D. years, he was a researcher at SRI International, a non-profit research institute founded by Stanford that is famous for incubating Siri’s original AI technology.
In 2002, he co-founded NeoSpeech, a text-to-speech software company, where he served as chief technology officer. Among well-known NeoSpeech users is the renowned physicist Stephen Hawking.
In 2004, he served as the chief executive officer of Novauris Technologies, a U.K.-based startup specializing in automatic speech recognition technology. Kim joined Apple when the iPhone maker acquired Novauris in December 2013 and has since served as its senior engineering manager, involved in improving Siri’s speech recognition features.
Kim has reportedly joined SK Telecom with ambitions to nurture AI talent and strengthen AI technologies in his home country.
SK Telecom said Kim would be a huge asset to the company in beefing up its AI capabilities and releasing new AI-embedded business models.
The number of monthly subscribers to SK Telecom’s AI-powered voice assistant NUGU exceeded 2.1 million users as of late last year to become Korea’s largest, data showed. The company aims to boost the number of users to 5 million by the end of this year.
By Seo Dong-cheol and Kim Hyo-jin
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