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Singapore launches AI strategy

Singapore’s approach is based around playing to its unique strengths and focusing on good governance.


Singapore has launched its National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy to support a goal to become a global hub for developing, testing and scaling AI solutions.


The strategy was formally announced at last week’s Smart City Expo World Congress (SCEWC) in Barcelona by Dr Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative and Minister for Foreign Affairs, Republic of Singapore.


“We believe that AI is a transformative technology. The fact that computers and systems can now see, hear, understand and speak is transformational,” Balakrishnan said. “It will transform our economy and societies, and disrupt our politics. It will alter the nature of jobs, and the skills our people will need. Consequently, we have decided that AI will define the next phase of our Smart Nation journey.”


Singapore has identified five National AI projects that it will embark on.


Singapore, which is held by many as the world’s smartest city, has established a National AI Office to drive the national AI agenda and to co-ordinate efforts across research, industry and government stakeholders.


The city-state has identified five National AI projects that it will embark on in transport and logistics; smart cities and estates; healthcare; education; safety and security.


Nimble government


Balakrishnan stressed the importance of collaboration. “As a small open economy, Singapore welcomes opportunities to collaborate with businesses and talents over the world to realise our National AI strategy,” he said. “As Singapore transforms its key sectors through AI, there will be many opportunities for businesses and investors to work together to research, develop and deploy AI solutions. We aspire to be the launchpad for businesses to test these solutions and bring them to the rest of Southeast Asia, and beyond.”


He added that although Singapore will never have as much data as China or be able to compete with Silicon Valley’s business ecosystem, for instance, he believed Singapore’s key strength as an AI partner would be its effectiveness in deployment.


“As a city-state with a single layer of government, we can be nimble in adapting regulations and processes to facilitate the testing and deploying of new technology and solutions. One example is in the development of platforms to share data securely and effectively across organisations, to facilitate the training and testing of AI algorithms. We have a technologically savvy population and are a global trade and economic hub,” Balakrishnan explained.


Singapore sees its key strength as an AI partner as its effectiveness in deployment.


Singapore’s mobile penetration rate is 150 per cent, and 80 to 90 per cent of its population have smartphones.


Singapore has invested over S$500 million (€332.4 million/$366.6 million) to further AI research innovation and enterprise, and has pledged to continue to raise its AI R&D capabilities to develop, deploy and commercialise AI solutions. Singapore will also tap into international partnerships in areas like data-sharing and digital identity cross-recognition to facilitate cross border AI collaboration.


Cities and AI


As part of its strategy, Singapore says it will continue to address issues and risks brought about by the use of AI, through efforts such as its Model AI Governance Framework, which was published in January. The framework provides detailed and readily implementable guidance to private sector organisations to address key ethical and governance issues when deploying AI solutions.


Balakrishnan concluded: “AI will change the world and cities that master AI will get ahead. If you do not, you are at risk of being left behind.”


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