The Role of Innovation and Technology Bureau

Background

The Hong Kong government setup this new bureau around 2015 but none of its work was heard among general public. I cannot say it did nothing for more than two years, but certainly even if it DID something, that would not matter much to most people out there. IMO, this is some thing very wrong. There is supposed to be a boatload of works that are related to a wider public.

Why Innovation and Technology is Lacking in HK

This is a key issue that NONE of the government official nor ANY political or bussiness figure get this right. They blame GRATUDATES for not catching up, YOUNG PEOPLE not innovative and EDUCATION system is not training the right people for companies. Put it simply, they don’t know the cause and therefore put the blame on a group that is defenseless and powerless. Now on to the main issue…

Social Environment (Economy)

Unlike Singapore where most land are allocated by the government and keeping housing affordable, Hong Kong is having a run-away situation where property owners can set the rent and price they want with impunity. This has became a legal robbery that make everything expensive, a particular unfavorable environment for innovation and technology. It is surprising that many business people don’t understand the reason behind… “I&T is a trial and error process”. Unlike the property market where you win 100% as long as you own a house, I&T is a different story. People have to try and implement a lot of idea, repeat many times, and then with luck, success. In simpler words, the society must be willing to embrace failure and people(and company) can afford to lose. Land policy is a big problem, but there are other issues leading to low tolerance to failure.

Hong Kong has too many laws and restrictions that answer to some interest holders but harming innovation. For instance, where can you test an experimental car? Can you draw nudity and show to public? How many people have the resources to do backyard research? NO. Hong Kong is being ruled by oldies who are mostly very conservative and there is no support for community research. Furthermore, government officials seems getting into the hype of “Fintech” and “AI” without really knowing what they are. Bitcoin is one part of Fintech, but already banned in China. Its decentralized nature would pose a big problem for most governments and law enforcement. And now you say you want to develop Fintech?

Another BIG legal issue concerns patent and copyright. There is never a fair talk on this and the law has been bad always. The law protects companies at the expense of harming the actual creators.

Hong Kong also lacks a fair self-publishing platform like those in Japan. Here, you have to print a minimum of 500 copies and you must paid the salary of 5 staffs for turning you document into InDesign format, the publisher may not promote your work, and there is no monthly sales report. Censorship on adult material is stricter than Japan and there is always some people saying the censorship is not enough (not only on porn censorship, but also on presentation of tobacco, foul language and improper behavior).

Public education (non-school)

There are a few facet to it. One, management staff make judgement without sufficient technical knowledge and Two, flourishing business basing on false-science.

“AI” is a trendy word and some local politician even promoting teaching this in Junior school… This is outright crazy as kids don’t have the mathematical ability to handle it (not even for most adults). Many companies also unaware of the cost to deploy machine-learning and I bet most of the manager don’t aware of the often subpar-to-ridiculous conclusion given by AI programs. AI is the most obvious misunderstood example out there everywhere and there will be more to come.

Another big misjudgemennt is hiring. What do people mean by talents and how you treat them. For a long long time, power holders in HK has been disrespectful to those who do the actual work, sacking people who do real science, and reward too much to management class who make a mess without bearing responsibility. HR are also paying too much emphasis on experience and status quo, blocking new people, and therefore new idea and skills from joining the industry. Hong Kong is not lacking talents as many business people say, but rather we are having a “masscare of talents” undocumented anywhere.

When it comes to false-science business, it touch the nerve of many people. The whatever water industry, the whatever nano industry and organic products advocates. These thrives since a substantial amount of citizens are science idiot, and because the mass media is taking commercials from these sectors. Though combating these may lead to short-term economy lost, but there is more to it… reduce waste and restore the value of “rightness”. Without removing this group, true science and technology will not be appreciated here.

Schools

Don’t teach obsolete stuff and don’t promote vendor lock-in, that’s my advice. Companies and government are still using security-hole-laden JAVA and Flash, slow to adopt HTML5, keep locking in Microsoft and Adobe’s products… all have much to do with schools keep teaching these.

Government has an important role to tell everyone to phase out obsolete technology and promote non-vendor-specific certification. Non-vendor certification is particularly important to combat monopoly, and rescue potential talents who cannot afford the expensive vendor certification. Tell management not to pickel on the cost of upgrading and renewing hardware and software, or I.T. people can’t even make a living.

Cultural Value

This is problematic… most people here don’t bother to explore(or even fear) the unknown, have strong bias, don’t want to pay, and only locking on brand-names. All of these unfavor startups, tech and innovation. Without a consumer base, business cannot stand. Besides schooling system to be blame, another immediate reason that government refuse to admit is that, “people are getting poorer than ever”.

Written on October 9, 2017