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Role of AI in Singapore’s Smart Nation plan shared at SMU AI conference

Role of AI in Singapore’s Smart Nation plan shared at SMU AI conference

Earlier this month, Singapore Management University’s School
of Information Systems (SIS), in partnership with AI Singapore, hosted
its inaugural “Artificial Intelligence—Are You Ready?” conference at the Ngee Ann Kongsi Auditorium.

The conference brought together policymakers, academics and
leading industry experts from organisations which had implemented AI
technologies and solutions into their businesses, to discuss latest developments
in artificial intelligence (AI).

Credit: Singapore Management University

In her welcome address, SMU Provost Prof Lily Kong
highlighted how the roots of AI research in SMU started many years ago in its
various labs: its Living Analytics Research
(LARC), LiveLabs Urban
Lifestyle Innovation Platform
and Fujitsu-SMU
Urban Computing and Engineering Corporate Lab

Commenting on the need for talent in Singapore’s
transformation towards a knowledge-based economy, Prof Kong announced the
official launch of an AI track at the postgraduate level, within SMU’s Master of IT in Business

Developed in consultation with more than 20 industry
leaders, the newly created MITB AI Track provides an integrated approach of
melding AI methodologies into business domains.

Smart Nation & Digital Government

In his opening address, Mr Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation & Digital Government, Prime Minister’s Office, commented that “AI will not replace jobs, but tasks.”

Credit: Singapore Management University

Enabled by vast data and enhanced computational power, AI is now capable of enabling users to do much more than before. Mr Tan also said that “the potential to create value is tremendous, (as AI) allows for a lot of innovation”.

In regard to Singapore’s Smart Nation efforts, Mr Tan stated that a fundamental aim of Smart Nation was to harness technology to improve lives in concrete ways.

“Think of all the things that I can get machine learning and AI software to do – detecting anomalies in fraud or cybersecurity, assisting the domains of transport or urban planning. There are tons of applications for the government to provide services in a citizen-centric manner,” Mr Tan shared some of the potential applications of AI.

He continued outlined the key conditions for the effective application of AI, which include: compelling use cases, available data and relevant capabilities and skills.

In nurturing AI talents for the industry, Mr Tan called for close collaboration between industry, universities, government agencies and institutions to build skills and capabilities in AI and data science.

AI Singapore

In his keynote speech, Mr Laurence Liew, Director of AI
Industry Innovation of AI Singapore spoke on the ways that Singapore can ride the
AI wave, and on programmes which help accelerate the adoption of AI by
companies in Singapore.

Credit: Singapore Management University

He iterated that AI Singapore’s mission is to anchor deep
national capabilities in AI, making it a key pillar in support of Singapore’s
Smart Nation initiative so as to engender substantial social and economic

In collaboration with universities, AI Singapore has
embarked on a number of projects which involved the implementation of AI
technologies and solutions to address practical challenges. The projects range
from usage of video analytics to determine a candidate’s progression in the job
interview process to applications for voice-to-text conversion for use by

In regard to talent development, Mr Liew identified data
programming, application development and math/statistics as key skills required
of an AI engineer.

“An AI engineer needs to be able to make sense of data in
order to build applications and systems,” he commented.

SMU’s Master of IT in
Business programme

In recent years, with AI and automated analytics reshaping
business models and strategies, the demand for talent with skills such as data
science and machine learning, AI planning and automation, and research
translation and application are growing exponentially.

As announced by SMU Provost, a new AI Track is introduced
this year in SMU’s Master
of IT in Business (MITB)
 programme is the first-of-its-kind in
Southeast Asia and a direct response to growing technology trends and demand
for relevant talent.

Prof Dai Bing Tian, Assistant Professor of information
Systems (Education) and Director of MITB (AI) Programme shared more about the
new programme. He emphasised that in the development and application of AI, human
talent is in at the centre of all factors, including software, hardware,
application and data.

Prof Dai shared that the new AI track programme emphasises
on both machine learning and decision analytics, which allow students to build
their AI applications and solutions in the business domains they are interested.

In addition to machine learning and decision
analytics, students will also learn about research translation and application
skill, to enable them to apply cutting edge researches in their AI solutions


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