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Singapore releases first Artificial Intelligence (AI) Governance Framework in Asia

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Singapore released its Model Artificial Intelligence (AI) Governance Framework at the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting, 22-25 January 2019, for public consultation, pilot adoption and feedback. The release of the Model Framework was announced by Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information.

The model framework, announced at the World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland, builds on earlier guidelines detailed in a paper released in June 2018 by Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission (PDPC) and Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

The framework is the first in Asia to provide detailed and readily implementable guidance to private sector organisations using AI, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Mr Iswaran described AI as the future. He said, “This is the future. It has the potential to affect many sectors in a very profound way and we want to make sure Singapore is prepared for that.”

He also added that the framework was being released at WEF because it is a forum where Singapore has always had a certain mind share. Singapore will be able to get global feedback on the framework because of the attendees at the event.

Guidelines for organisations using AI 

This Model Framework is the first in Asia to provide detailed and readily implementable guidance to private organisations on how to address ethical and governance issues when using AI solutions.

The Model Framework is an evolving document which aims to adapt to the fast-paced changes in this digital environment and expected to continue to develop as it is being used.

The two main principles of this Model Framework are to help organisations ensure that:

  • Decisions made by or with the assistance of AI are explainable, transparent and fair to consumers
  • AI solutions are human-centric.

This in turn enhances trust in and understanding of AI, as well as acceptance of how AI-related decisions are made for the benefit of users. The Model maps out the key ethical principles and practices that apply to common AI deployment processes in four area

  • Internal governance structures and measures
  • Risk management in autonomous decision-making
  • Operations management
  • Customer relationship management

Mr. V K Rajah S C, Chairman of the Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data said  “The Model Framework provides practical guidance to organisations deploying AI at scale to do so with good internal governance and in an ethical manner. The Advisory Council encourages businesses to pilot the Model Framework and provide feedback from their implementation experience. We look forward to reviewing the comments from the public consultation and proposing improvements in the next edition.”

Singapore to collaborate with leading groups to drive AI and data innovation

Singapore also announced a collaboration with the World Economic Forum’s (WEF) Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (C4IR) to further drive AI and data innovation. The agreement was signed by IMDA, the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, and the World Economic Forum.

Mr Murat Sonmez, Managing Director, Head of the Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution Network, said, “Singapore is focused on innovation and technology. As the country develops forward-looking technology policies, we welcome them as a partner of the Centre Network. We are looking forward to their contribution to our network for global technology governance.”

Framework aims to help businesses with data management and the governance of AI

In an interview with Mr Iswaran at the WEF, he was asked “Do you think that such a new framework would make it less attractive for private sector organisations to set-up base in Singapore?”

He responded with ”The key point to note is that this is a framework. It is not a rule or a regulation. This is basically an outcome from industry consultation that we have had. So in a way, the industry has already helped shape this”

” I do not think that the industry will be deterred from doing things out of Singapore because of this. On the contrary, I would say that we might even be able to come out as one of the jurisdictions with sound approaches to data management and the governance of AI and other frontier technologies. In this case, more companies would want to be associated with us.”

In a statement by IMDA, it said “Singapore aims to advance its vision to be a leading Digital Economy and Smart Nation, continually embracing digital transformation and reinventing itself to remain globally competitive. The Model Framework is part of Singapore’s efforts to do so through investing and building capabilities in AI.”


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