The Cambodian Ministry of Post and Telecommunications has taken a significant step towards addressing the AI language gap by announcing the forthcoming introduction of the Khmer version of ChatGPT, a sophisticated artificial intelligence (AI) tool. As preparations are underway for its launch, Pang Voreh Uddom, a local-born university student studying Computer Science in Melbourne, has already made remarkable strides in bridging this digital divide in his home country, Cambodia. Uddom’s brainchild, the UAI or AI Khmer Search Engine, aims to make AI technology more accessible to Cambodian users, offering them a user-friendly platform to interact with AI-powered information in their native Khmer language.
UAI as a user-friendly solution for Cambodian AI interaction
Pang Voreh Uddom’s vision for the UAI app came to life when he realized that ChatGPT, a global AI sensation, remained inaccessible to many Cambodians due to location restrictions and the need for a VPN. The frustration he experienced while being unable to utilize ChatGPT during his holiday in Cambodia spurred him to create a localized version that could cater specifically to Cambodian users. With a design similar to ChatGPT, the UAI app allows users to interact with AI, pose questions, and receive answers seamlessly in both Khmer and English languages. UAI’s intuitive interface, coupled with natural language generation, promises to simplify tasks and provide a smoother digital experience for its users.
As UAI made its debut, it garnered significant attention and received praise from users seeking to enhance their digital journey. Initially limited to 100 users, UAI’s popularity grew, leading Uddom to plan an update that would make the app free and accessible to everyone. Despite facing unique challenges like limited Khmer language data and being a solo project, Uddom’s dedication to improving digital accessibility led him to persevere, driven by the belief that UAI could be a valuable tool for his compatriots.
Overcoming challenges and expanding accessibility
While UAI relies on Google as its data source, the availability of Khmer language data poses certain limitations. Uddom acknowledges that AI-generated information may not always be entirely accurate, and he encourages users not to rely solely on AI for critical tasks. To address this, Uddom plans to expand the app’s data sources and continually train the model as more documents and information become available, ensuring enhanced accuracy for UAI’s audience.
To foster wider adoption and enable more Cambodians to benefit from the app, UAI is currently offered for free, with Uddom personally absorbing the costs. But, financial constraints have temporarily suspended some Khmer language services. Despite these challenges, Uddom is actively seeking solutions to cut costs and is exploring the possibility of partnerships to support the app’s development.
In addition to his work on the UAI app, Uddom is dedicated to giving Cambodians access to digital education. He actively provides coding lessons to hundreds of students and collaborates on various independent projects, contributing to social media content creation for companies and institutions. His rising digital talent has garnered recognition, leading to an invitation to speak at a webinar organized by the Faculty of Information and Communication Technology at Rangsit University International College (RIC) in Thailand.
Pioneering efforts to bridge the AI language gap in Cambodia
As AI technology continues to evolve and become increasingly relevant in simplifying various tasks, Uddom’s pioneering efforts with the UAI or AI Khmer Search Engine serves as a promising step in bridging the AI language divide and making cutting-edge technology more inclusive for all. With ongoing support and innovation, UAI has the potential to reshape how Cambodian users interact with AI, enabling them to harness the power of artificial intelligence in their native language and contributing to the nation’s digital advancement.