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Singapore-France Joint AI Lab for Defence Innovation

Image credit: mindef.gov.sg

The Singapore Ministry of Defence (MINDEF) and the French Ministry of Armed Forces (MOAF) have recently agreed to establish a Joint Research & Development Laboratory (Joint Lab). Chan Heng Kee, MINDEF’s Permanent Secretary (Defence), and Dr Emmanuel Chiva, Chief Executive of the French Directorate General of Armaments, signed the agreement.

This is the first Joint Lab established by MINDEF with an international associate in Singapore. The Joint Lab exemplifies the long-standing and fruitful cooperation between the two countries in defence technology, with over two decades of defence Research & Development (R&D) partnerships under the Singapore and France Advanced Research Initiative (SAFARI).

Heng Kee asserts that digital and dual-use technologies such as artificial intelligence (AI) are evolving swiftly nowadays. MINDEF is expanding its alliances and networks to utilise these new sources of innovation for defence applications.

With the establishment of the Joint Lab, they are strengthening their relationship with France, and by bringing together Singaporean and French researchers of the highest calibre, they will be able to accelerate their research to address shared security issues.

On the other hand, Dr Emmanuel stated that the establishment of this joint laboratory represents a turning point in R&D collaboration with the Singapore Ministry of Defence, establishing a significant AI-related project.

Under the direction of MINDEF’s Future Systems and Technology Directorate and the French Defence Innovation Agency, the Joint Lab will develop AI capabilities for impactful defence applications using a global and multidisciplinary approach.

The Joint Lab brings together the French National Centre for Scientific Research (CNRS) and Temasek Laboratories @ National University of Singapore (TL@NUS) as the lead agencies. They will bring in research expertise from the wider ecosystems of both countries, including universities, research institutes, and industry.

Possible areas of research include using computer vision to watch images and videos for possible threats in different environments, using AI for geospatial analysis, using strong AI for visual recognition to improve the ability to make sense of things, and using natural language processing to pull out and summarise information for reports and analysis.

TL @ NUS is pleased to host the first Joint Lab in Singapore established by MINDEF with an overseas country and partner. They are excited to work with CNRS on the Joint Lab, which will bring together the rich and broad AI research knowledge from the France and Singapore research ecosystems to develop next-generation defence capabilities.

Also, CNRS’ engagement in the joint lab builds on the company’s existing strong AI connections, both with academic partners in Singapore and with the French Defence Innovation Agency. The collaborative lab would allow researchers to explore new research areas in conjunction with Singaporean partners, with an emphasis on AI problems with high potential for defence applications.

The Joint Lab is part of MINDEF’s ongoing efforts to strengthen our research and technical capabilities through collaboration with like-minded countries.

Due to its potential to enhance military operations, improve decision-making processes, and increase situational awareness, AI has gained increasing importance in defence ministries around the globe. AI can also be used to analyse large quantities of data and recognise patterns that humans may overlook, which can aid in intelligence gathering and threat assessment.

Additionally, autonomous systems powered by AI can be used for tasks that are too hazardous or difficult for humans to perform, such as surveillance and reconnaissance missions. By utilising AI technologies, defence ministries can increase operational efficacy, decrease expenses, and obtain a strategic advantage over potential adversaries.

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