Artificial intelligence (AI) has the potential to transform the screening of dementia, a disease that affects millions of people worldwide. A project based in Singapore, Project Pensieve is developing a digital screening tool that utilises AI to analyse drawings to detect early signs of dementia in users.
In collaboration with the Department of Psychiatry at Singapore General Hospital, GovTech has developed a tool that incorporates machine learning technology and local clinical expertise to accurately estimate the risk of dementia in just 10 minutes. This initiative is part of GovTech’s ongoing effort to use AI to detect dementia earlier, improve healthcare and enable seniors to live active, fulfilled lives.
The research and development phase of Project Pensieve will continue through 2023. By utilising AI, the tool is expected to facilitate more efficient and effective early screening for dementia within the community.
According to Associate Professor Liew Tau Ming, Principal Investigator of Project Pensieve and a senior consultant psychiatrist at Singapore General Hospital, “The timely detection of dementia enables those with the condition to access medications that can slow down the progression of the disease and interventions that help manage related behavioural symptoms. Additionally, caregivers will also have access to important community resources for dementia care.”
The OpenGov Asia Recognition of Excellence Award recognises Project Pensieve for its significant contribution to the AI and dementia screening field.
Utilising AI for early detection of dementia
“Singapore is experiencing its silver wave now,” says Tan Congyuan, Product Manager, Data Science and Artificial Intelligence Division, Government Technology Agency (GovTech), Singapore. “Today, one in seven Singaporeans are seniors. By 2030, we expect one in four Singaporeans aged 65 and above. That’s a projection of more than 900,000 seniors.”
Presently, one out of every ten senior citizens in Singapore has dementia. By 2030, it is anticipated that Singapore will have 152,000 individuals suffering from dementia. Unfortunately, up to 70% of dementia patients in Singapore remain undiagnosed until they have reached a later stage of the disease.
Despite the glaring gap in dementia diagnosis, there has been no efficient and scalable solution to address it at the population level. However, Singapore General Hospital and GovTech saw the potential of AI in developing a solution as the technology matured. Thus, they embarked on this journey in 2020, leveraging each other’s expertise and strengths in dementia care and machine learning (ML).
According to Congyuan, while several cognitive tests such as Min-Cog and Mini-Mental State Examination can assist in the early diagnosis of dementia, they have deployment limitations since each test requires 20 to 30 minutes to administer.
They are labour-intensive and frequently necessitate specialised training before they can be used by a healthcare professional. Moreover, some of these tests are dependent on the respondent’s literacy skills.
Drawing tests, on the other hand, do not rely on the respondent’s literacy level, making them more inclusive and accessible to a wider population. The test is self-administered via an app on a tablet using prerecorded audio and video prompts. It typically takes between five and ten minutes to complete and the AI instantly and automatically scores the test results.
One of the obstacles to early diagnosis of dementia is the current healthcare system, in which the resources required to diagnose dementia, especially the availability of trained professionals to administer cognitive tests, are concentrated at specialised memory clinics in tertiary hospitals. However, many community-based seniors rarely visit tertiary hospitals, limiting their access to professional cognitive evaluations.
Project Pensieve’s objective is to enable non-experts, such as volunteers, caregivers, or administrative staff from the community, to administer the exam, broadening the reach and scope of dementia screening.
The journey towards a minimum viable product
Choosing and adapting the AI algorithm to enhance the accuracy and robustness of identifying dementia cases was a critical technical consideration. Consequently, the Project Pensieve team tested the concept against a small set of synthetic data using few-shot learning techniques, which gave them the confidence to develop a minimum viable product (MVP).
The minimum viable product (MVP) gathered a dataset of 1,000 senior participants’ drawing strokes to enhance the AI model’s accuracy using actual data. Initial results showed promising inference accuracy rates of over 80%. As the project is ongoing, the precision of the AI model will improve as more data is collected.
Using a digital tablet, a participant is required to complete four drawing tests on the app which record the sequence of strokes made by the participant. The AI model then evaluates the stroke sequences and drawings to estimate the risk of dementia.
The project’s AI engineers Jessica Foo and Howard Yang employed multiple AI techniques for this project, including meta-learning, which helped them overcome the lack of data in the project’s early stages. This technique teaches a model to “learn to learn”, allowing for the rapid generalisation of new information.
To better capture temporal information, the engineers explained that they used long short-term memory (LSTM) and gated recurrent units (GRUs) to process images as stroke sequences. By analysing stroke sequences rather than the conventional pen-and-paper drawing, the AI can detect anomalous drawing sequences or prolonged hesitation when drawing, which may indicate cognitive difficulties.
More than 600 seniors participated in the project’s pilot and underwent memory assessments conducted by dementia specialists. Several individuals with dementia and mild cognitive impairment, which are early indicators of dementia, were picked up by the pilot.
“By recruiting community-dwelling seniors as volunteer participants, Project Pensieve was able to identify positive markers of dementia in individuals who might have gone undiagnosed otherwise,” Congyuan says excitedly. “These individuals were then referred to the memory clinic for follow-ups and further evaluation.”
Designing Project Pensieve with the user in mind
Designing for user-friendliness was one of the considerations, particularly for elderly users who are not digital natives and have little experience with interactive screens. Users needed to become familiar with the app so that the inputs collected were accurate and not influenced by the friction of drawing in a new medium.
The team conducted user experience research with clinicians and patients in the early stages of development, using tools such as affinity diagrams, user personas and emotional journey mapping to extract insights and themes to guide the app’s development.
Rachel Shong, Pensieve’s UX designer, engaged seniors at void decks and Residents’ Committees (RCs) to demonstrate mock-ups and gather feedback. The team had to design the user experience from the perspective of seniors with varying cognitive abilities, keeping in mind that they may have little experience with tablets and interactive screens.
The team was mindful throughout the process that inclusive design stems from empathy and that the human element must not be overlooked in the design process.
Rachel revealed that when designing the test setup, they considered a range of factors: “For example, selecting a stylus that resembles the classic hexagonal 2B pencil without any side buttons to recreate a familiar feel and reduce apprehension arising from tech novelty.”
The team intentionally chose a tablet that was appropriately sized and not too heavy for the participants to handle. They also paid attention to the user interface, including the visual contrast of the app and the size and style of the fonts, to ensure readability for seniors.
Project Pensieve maintains a human-centred approach by inviting citizen co-creation and participation. The team engaged the public through various events and platforms during the product development phase, such as GovTech’s Tech Kaki group and IMDA’s Digital for Life event.
Supporting existing dementia initiatives with Project Pensieve
Project Pensieve serves as a significant addition to the current dementia support initiatives, as the detection and intervention process is complex and various factors can affect the outcome. For example, even if a person is identified as being at risk for dementia, they may choose not to pursue follow-up due to stigma, anxiety, financial constraints, lack of knowledge, family circumstances, or other reasons.
“The healthcare system also needs to be robust enough to support the additional load of picking up more people with early dementia,” Congyuan opines.
It is important to note that AI should only be used as an aid in the diagnosis of dementia, and not as a replacement for a professional diagnosis. Therefore, it is recommended that individuals identified as potentially having dementia through AI testing be referred to a trained clinician for a more comprehensive diagnosis and appropriate intervention.
Adjustments will be made to the sensitivity and specificity of the AI as more data comes in. Sensitivity represents the true positive rate, and specificity represents the true negative rate. A test with high sensitivity will reliably detect the presence of a condition, resulting in a high number of true positives and a low number of false negatives. This is especially crucial when the repercussions of missing the condition are severe. A test with a high specificity reliably excludes individuals who do not have the condition, resulting in many true negatives and a small number of false positives. This is especially crucial when people with a condition are subjected to additional testing, expense, stigma, and anxiety, among other things.
AI can and is already being used for a variety of tasks such as interpreting imaging results, ensuring medication adherence, and detecting abnormal behaviour that could be a symptom of a problem, such as a fall detection device.
The team is actively investigating the optimal application of AI to healthcare needs.
About the team
The Project Pensieve team is committed to achieving its goal of providing public benefit through its collaborative work. Clinical experts from Singapore General Hospital develop the drawing tests and administer and interpret them to provide ground truth data to train the AI.
GovTech has software developers building the app, AI and data engineers who build the AI engine to improve the accuracy and robustness of detecting dementia and user experience designers who conceptualise features and the user journey to deliver a good experience.
The team demonstrates empathy towards the user’s experience, strives for continuous innovation and delivers a superior product by putting themselves in the shoes of all stakeholders.
Interacting with seniors whose cognitive abilities span a broad spectrum is a good example of empathy. The team must demonstrate sensitivity and patience when approaching, understanding and communicating with the elderly.
The project team must be able to communicate its business case and the potential value of the project to stakeholders to gain their support. Stakeholders can evaluate the cost-benefit ratio and determine the level of support for the project if they are informed of progress, obstacles and successes.
“For example, challenges arising from the COVID situation led to a slower outreach and uptake of recruitment at the start, necessitating some schedule adjustments,” Congyuan explains. “Being transparent in the recovery action and demonstrating successful delivery of intermediate milestones gave the stakeholders confidence in their support to overcome the hurdles.”
The Project Pensieve team includes subject matter experts from various fields, including clinical, user experience, and artificial intelligence. Open communication within the team is vital as it ensures that everyone’s domain expertise is shared and not withheld and members know whom to approach when confronted with a complex problem.
For instance, the AI engineer must comprehend how clinicians interpret features within a drawing to optimise the AI’s ability to zero in on areas of interest.
Congyuan shared that the team uses Kanban to track work transparently and keep each other informed of upcoming tasks or backlogs. This allows the team to pursue incremental, evolutionary improvements throughout the phases of the project, as app development progresses concurrently with participant usage.
“Team members are empowered to be leaders and initiate enhancements to the solution and workflow while managing team capacity,” Congyuan concludes.
Congyuan is optimistic about the future of AI technology in healthcare and is excited to see what it can develop to better serve people. Thanks to the dedicated efforts of his team who share similar values, he believes that this industry will continue to thrive and grow in the years ahead.
Singapore’s Institute of Technical Education (ITE) has emerged as a trailblazer with its innovative Work-Study Diplomas (WSDips) initiative. Launched five years ago, the programme has evolved into a crucial pathway for ITE graduates seeking to elevate their qualifications. According to Dr Mohamad Maliki Bin Osman, the Second Minister for Education, the success of WSDips lies in its ‘learning by doing’ approach, aligning seamlessly with ITE’s practice-based curriculum.
Since its inception with 100 trainees across four courses in 2018, the WSDips initiative has witnessed exponential growth. With over 1,000 trainees now enrolled in 40 courses, the programme has become a testament to its effectiveness. Graduates not only experience salary growth but also boast high employability, with more than 70% choosing to stay in their respective companies post-graduation.
ITE is set to expand its successful WSDips initiative by introducing five new courses in 2024. This move reflects ITE’s commitment to staying ahead of the curve in addressing the diverse needs of both individuals and industries.
The new additions, ranging from Accountancy and Artificial Intelligence (AI) to Nursing and Tourism Management, showcase ITE’s dedication to providing upskilling opportunities tailored to the evolving demands of the workforce.
The WSDip in Accountancy aims to sharpen expertise in in-house accounting functions, addressing the intricate financial management needs of businesses. Recognising the pivotal role of technology, the WSDip in AI and Data Intelligence is designed to support businesses in executing robust digital strategies by nurturing talent well-versed in AI and data intelligence.
The WSDip in Electronics and Computer Engineering responds to the increasing importance of optimised operational efficiency in digital work environments. This course focuses on cutting-edge electronics and computer engineering, producing skilled professionals ready to tackle the challenges of an increasingly tech-centric world.
In the healthcare sector, the WSDip in Nursing offers an apprenticeship-based progression pathway, addressing the growing demand for healthcare professionals. This programme provides a structured and hands-on learning approach, ensuring that graduates are well-prepared for the dynamic field of nursing.
The WSDip in Tourism Management recognises the significance of the evolving tourism industry. Going beyond traditional approaches, this diploma encompasses a spectrum of skills, from customer behaviour analytics to sustainable tourism practices, preparing trainees to navigate this transformative industry.
The expansion of the WSDips portfolio underscores ITE’s dedication to offering specialised courses that address the contemporary workforce’s needs. By providing upskilling opportunities in crucial areas, ITE ensures its graduates are not only job-ready but also positioned to thrive in their chosen fields.
The integration of digitalisation courses into study diplomas has become a strategic imperative. This move is not merely a reaction to industry trends; rather, it represents a proactive measure to bridge the gap between traditional education and the rapidly evolving technological landscape.
Study diplomas tailored to include digitalisation courses offer myriad benefits, from heightened employability to cultivating a workforce prepared for the challenges of the digital age. Graduates possessing digital literacy are not only better positioned for a wide array of careers but are also empowered to contribute to innovation and entrepreneurship.
Moreover, these programmes play a pivotal role in addressing the global competitiveness of individuals and industries, ensuring that professionals have the necessary skills to navigate a digitally interconnected world.
As educational institutions adapt to include digitalisation courses, Singapore paves the way for a future workforce that is not only adaptive to industry-specific requirements but also capable of driving technological advancements in various fields.
The Malaysian Investment Development Authority (MIDA) organised its forum aimed at catalysing Malaysia’s industrial commitment to sustainability goals. Held at the Connexion Conference & Event Centre, Bangsar South, in collaboration with the National SDG Centre and United Nations Global Compact Malaysia and Brunei (UNGCMYB), the forum strategically focused on leveraging technology adoption and embracing ESG (Environmental, Social, Governance) practices, especially among Small and Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) and Mid-Tier Companies (MTCs).
At its core, the forum delved into the critical challenges faced by industries, including financial constraints, talent shortages, and the scarcity of technical expertise. Crucially, it shed light on the government’s unwavering dedication to achieving the Sustainable Development Goals 2030 and transitioning toward the Net Zero 2050 aspiration.
The session was a knowledge hub, hosting influential figures in sustainability like Mr Faroze Nadar, Executive Director at UNGCMYB, Prof. Dr Ong Kian Ming from Taylor’s University, and Mr Asfaazam Kasbani from the National SDG Centre, Ministry of Economy. Technology experts and representatives from leading entities such as PETRONAS and EPF also contributed their perspectives, enriching the discourse.
YB Liew Chin Tong, Deputy Minister of Investment, Trade, and Industry (MITI), outlined the government’s New Industrial Master Plan 2030 (NIMP 2030). This plan encompasses ambitious goals and 12 outcome-based targets, aligning with the National Investment Inspirations. Stressing the importance of a holistic approach, YB Liew highlighted the necessity for sector-specific targets across manufacturing, energy, transport, and infrastructure to foster sustainable development.
MITI’s proactive stance was evident as the Deputy Minister unveiled the National Industry Environmental, Social, and Governance (ESG) Framework (i-ESG) to bolster SMEs and MTCs in embracing sustainability. The i-ESG aligns seamlessly with the MADANI Economy Framework, indicating a clear vision for inclusive and sustainable industrial growth.
Underpinning the significance of technology and innovation, YB Liew highlighted initiatives within the Budget 2024, demonstrating a dedicated push toward sustainability. Noteworthy allocations such as the RM2 billion National Energy Transition Facility fund and the potential RM1 billion biodiversity sukuk for carbon credits aim to uplift businesses while fostering a resilient economic landscape.
MIDA’s Chairman, YBhg. Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob, emphasised MIDA’s pivotal role as the vanguard of sustainable investment projects like e-Mobility, Renewable Energy, and Circular Bio-economy. The establishment of MIDA’s Sustainability Division in August 2023 signifies its proactive approach towards sustainable practices, indicating a promising trajectory.
Tan Sri Dato’ Seri Dr Sulaiman Mahbob underscored the inevitability of sustainable practices in the evolving global landscape, stressing the urgency for Malaysia to embrace the green wave. MIDA’s commitment was echoed through initiatives like the Invest Malaysia Facilitation Centre (IMFC), aimed at bolstering investment facilitation and expediting service delivery, thereby fostering an investor-friendly environment.
MIDA’s forum served as a pivotal platform to galvanise technological innovation and sustainable practices, aligning Malaysia’s industries with global sustainability imperatives. With concerted efforts and strategic initiatives, Malaysia stands poised to lead the charge towards a greener and more resilient future.
Malaysia has set its sights on an ambitious agenda for sustainable development, aligning with global imperatives while tailoring initiatives to its unique socio-economic landscape. With a steadfast commitment to the Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs) for 2030 and a resolute transition toward the Net Zero 2050 aspiration, the nation aims to tackle multifaceted challenges. From addressing environmental concerns like carbon emissions and biodiversity preservation to fostering social inclusivity and economic resilience, Malaysia’s sustainable goals encompass a holistic approach. These efforts converge on technology adoption, ESG practices, and inclusive policies, positioning the nation to forge ahead as a beacon of sustainable progress in the region and beyond.
OpenGov Asia reported that Selangor, a key player in Malaysia’s push towards renewable energy, is set to contribute a substantial 1 to 1.5 gigawatts (GW) to the country’s electricity grid in the coming years, as announced by Menteri Besar Dato’ Seri Amirudin Shari.
The Ministry of Industry and Trade (MoIT) recently unveiled an ambitious plan to propel Vietnamese businesses onto the global stage through a cutting-edge initiative. At the core of this strategy is the selection of 100 exceptional enterprises for the “Vietnam Pavilion” on a leading B2B e-commerce platform, slated to revolutionise the landscape of international trade.
This innovative programme seeks to champion the diverse array of “Made in Vietnam” products, fuel international trade endeavours, and facilitate seamless access for businesses to tap into the vast customer base of an established e-platform. By leveraging this expansive network, the initiative aims to illuminate Vietnam’s products and the prowess of small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to a global audience.
The registration window for SMEs extends until January 15, 2024, offering selected participants invaluable insights from seasoned exporters. Vu Ba Phu, Director of the Vietnam Trade Promotion Agency, emphasised the pivotal role of this collaboration with the e-commerce giant, highlighting its potential to furnish SMEs with a gateway to the global market. This collaboration underscores a strategic shift toward digital trade, fortifying resilience amid the unpredictable undulations of the global market.
The inception of the “Vietnam Pavilion” in 2022 signals a concerted effort to bolster Vietnamese businesses by amplifying their brand presence and facilitating seamless networking opportunities. According to the Country Director of the e-commerce company in Vietnam, this alliance is pivotal in augmenting the global footprint of Vietnamese enterprises, streamlining their participation in global business endeavours.
In the previous year, Vietnam witnessed an exponential surge in exports via e-commerce, surmounting 80 trillion VND (approximately 3.25 billion USD). Forecasts project a meteoric rise, expecting the figure to soar to nearly 300 trillion VND by 2027. In anticipation of this burgeoning trend, Vietrade swiftly rolled out various online and hybrid trade promotion models, yielding commendable outcomes.
Simultaneously, the Ministry of Industry and Trade organised an event to introduce the “National Centralised Promotion Programme 2023 – Vietnam Grand Sale 2023” to stakeholders across the country. This initiative is designed to invigorate trade promotion endeavours while fortifying the branding of Vietnamese goods. The programme aims to stimulate domestic market growth, diversify purchasing channels, and bolster production, circulation, and business activities, catalysing the country’s economic resurgence.
The National Focused Promotion 2023 is set to be a nationwide affair, spearheaded by the Department of Trade Promotion in collaboration with relevant industry units, associations, businesses, and organisations. This concerted effort will encompass a multifaceted approach, blending traditional trade methods with e-commerce to generate a ripple effect, drawing the active participation of enterprises across sectors.
Businesses are granted the autonomy to partake in the “National Focused Promotion 2023” Programme by proactively engaging in diverse and compelling promotional activities aimed at captivating customers. They have the prerogative to set promotional limits (up to 100%), provided they adhere to legal and transparent promotional practices and safeguard consumer rights.
As stipulated, the permissible limit for goods and services used in promotional activities during the specified period from December 4, 2023, to February 9, 2024, stands at 100%, in alignment with regulatory decisions.
In essence, these initiatives orchestrated by the Ministry of Industry and Trade represent a decisive stride toward harnessing technological advancements to bolster Vietnam’s economic landscape, empowering businesses to thrive in the digital age while fortifying their global market presence.
Vietnam is eager to develop its digital economy and ensure that it is ready to make use of any opportunities to expand.
OpenGov Asia reported that the Ministry of Information and Communications is designing a strategy for Vietnam’s international fibre-optic cable development that will soon be released. This initiative aims to guarantee the secure and sustainable advancement of Vietnam’s digital infrastructure, according to Pham Duc Long, the Deputy Minister of MIC.
A delegation from the Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) met with the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia to the United Nations (PTRI New York) in New York. The meeting addressed the importance of digitisation as a fundamental foundation in bureaucratic reform.
Digitisation, involving representatives from the Ministry of PANRB and PTRI New York, discussed concrete steps to integrate technology into bureaucratic reform efforts. The discussion involved aspects such as implementing information systems, developing human resource capacity, and using technological innovation to enhance administrative efficiency.
In this meeting, the delegation from the Ministry of PANRB, led by Deputy for Institutional and Organisational Affairs Nanik Murwati, accompanied by Acting Assistant Deputy for Institutional and Organisational Affairs for the Economy, Maritime, and Investment of the Ministry of PANRB Ario Wiriandhi, was received by the Permanent Representative of Indonesia to PTRI New York, Arrmanatha Christiawan Nasir, and his team. The meeting began with discussions on the progress of institutional and organisational policy.
Nanik emphasised the urgency and importance of bureaucratic reform supported by data-based digital governance. “Digitisation through the SPBE architecture is the main foundation for bureaucratic reform, with its impact to be felt by the Indonesian people both domestically and internationally,” said Nanik.
Nanik demonstrated the Indonesian government’s commitment to advancing bureaucratic reform through digital transformation through this meeting. They underscored the importance of international collaboration, especially in exchanging knowledge and experiences related to implementing technology in public administration.
One of the main focuses of the meeting was to enhance the effectiveness of public services through implementing digital solutions. The delegation discussed the potential use of artificial intelligence, data analysis, and technology-based platforms to expedite decision-making processes and provide more responsive services to the public.
“The use of digital technology in various aspects of government operations, such as reporting, data management, and interagency coordination, can create a more open, transparent, and efficient environment,” said Nanik.
The Ministry of State Apparatus Empowerment and Bureaucratic Reform (PANRB) emphasised simplifying and integrating business processes to strengthen digitisation. The main goal is to improve the effectiveness and efficiency of task implementation, programmes, and services across all government agencies, including those carried out by the Permanent Mission of the Republic of Indonesia (PTRI) in New York.
Nanik, the representative from the Ministry of PANRB, revealed that the next step is to conduct an in-depth review with PTRI New York regarding the institutional arrangement policy of the Indonesian Representative Abroad. This institutional arrangement aligns with the revision of Presidential Decree No. 108/2003 concerning the Organisation of the Indonesian Representation Abroad. This process aims to align and enhance the organisational structure to provide optimal support in diplomatic tasks.
The discussion highlighted crucial points, including the position and relationship of business processes and work procedures between PTRI and KJRI New York, KBRI Washington DC, and other organisational elements within the PTRI New York environment. The results of the meeting are expected to form a strong foundation to strengthen synergy and efficiency in diplomatic tasks at PTRI in New York.
Furthermore, through this collaborative step, Nanik believes that by implementing digitisation comprehensively in bureaucracy, there will be significant opportunities to improve the efficiency and responsiveness of public services. Digitisation will facilitate access and information exchange between agencies, reduce task execution time, minimise bureaucracy, and mitigate risks associated with manual processes.
This initiative addresses current needs and looks ahead, creating a robust foundation for adapting to ongoing technological developments. Thus, Indonesia can continue to deliver excellent and responsive public services, achieving the goal of sustainable bureaucratic transformation.
The National Economic and Development Authority (NEDA) recently visited Dumangas, Iloilo, to witness the demonstration of SARAi, a cutting-edge remote-sensing technology developed by the University of the Philippines Los Baños.
This initiative is part of NEDA’s ongoing efforts to harness the potential of remote-sensing technologies for gathering timely crop data, a crucial element in providing anticipatory inflation policy advice through the Inter-Agency Committee on Inflation and Market Outlook (IAC-IMO).
Project SARAi, standing for Smarter Approaches to Reinvigorate Agriculture as an Industry in the Philippines, focuses on monitoring agricultural production. During the demonstration, the Dumangas SARAi team showcased the generation of crop commodity maps using satellite data. The validation process involves a mobile phone app or a specialised drone, ensuring accuracy in monitoring the growth and health of crops in Dumangas.
While SARAi has proven useful at the local government unit (LGU) level, its current pilot implementation is limited to a few LGUs. NEDA Assistant Secretary Reynaldo R Cancio emphasised the need for broader implementation to fully tap into its potential for guiding national policy-making. Acknowledging challenges faced during the technology’s introduction to pilot LGUs, Reynaldo highlighted financial resource constraints and a lack of appreciation for the technology’s benefits as major hurdles.
NEDA proposed national government support for the deployment of remote-sensing technologies like SARAi, particularly for LGUs with financial constraints. He stressed the importance of coordination among various remote-sensing projects to avoid duplication and ensure applicability for national-level inflation management.
As NEDA continues to work with the IAC-IMO, the focus remains on providing inflation policy advice using existing data sets. Simultaneously, efforts persist in studying the potential of remote-sensing technologies like SARAi as invaluable tools for gathering essential data in the ongoing pursuit of effective inflation management.
In addition, NEDA has taken a significant step towards advancing the digital landscape in the Philippines with the release of the Implementing Rules and Regulations (IRR) for Republic Act No. 11927, popularly known as the Philippine Digital Workforce Competitiveness Act. This strategic move, approved on October 2023, reflects a meticulous consultation process involving various stakeholders, including government agencies and private sector representatives.
NEDA Secretary Arsenio M Balisacan emphasised the crucial role the Act plays in equipping the workforce with digital technologies and skills while fostering a dynamic innovation ecosystem. The IRR outlines the establishment of the Inter-Agency Council (IAC) for the Development and Competitiveness of the Philippine Digital Workforce, chaired by NEDA and composed of eight other key agencies.
This Council will be the primary body responsible for planning, coordinating, and implementing initiatives to enhance the competitiveness of the country’s digital workforce, with the Department of Labor and Employment (DOLE) serving as the secretariat.
The Act empowers the IAC to formulate the National Roadmap on Digital Technology and Digital Skills, laying the foundation for programmes aimed at upskilling, re-skilling, and training the digital workforce. In a bid to streamline information dissemination, the Council will establish a centralised online portal harmonising existing portals of member agencies. This portal will provide comprehensive details on training and skills development programmes, certifications, and scholarship opportunities.
These initiatives directly address identified gaps in digital technology and skills mapping, ensuring that Filipinos across the nation have access to the skills and competencies essential for navigating the digital landscape. The focus on digital content, platforms, innovations, entrepreneurship, and technology aligns with the ever-evolving demands of the global labour market, positioning the Philippines as a competitive player in the digital workforce arena.
Liming Zhu and Qinghua Lu, leaders in the study of responsible AI at CSIRO and Co-authors of Responsible AI: Best Practices for Creating Trustworthy AI Systems delve into the realm of responsible AI through their extensive work and research.
Artificial Intelligence (AI), currently a major focal point, is revolutionising almost all facets of life, presenting entirely novel methods and approaches. The latest trend, Generative AI, has taken the helm, crafting content from cover letters to campaign strategies and conjuring remarkable visuals from scratch.
Global regulators, leaders, researchers and the tech industry grapple with the substantial risks posed by AI. Ethical concerns loom large due to human biases, which, when embedded in AI training, can exacerbate discrimination. Mismanaged data without diverse representation can lead to real harm, evidenced by instances like biased facial recognition and unfair loan assessments. These underscore the need for thorough checks before deploying AI systems to prevent such harmful consequences.
The looming threat of AI-driven misinformation, including deepfakes and deceptive content, concerning for everyone, raising fears of identity impersonation online. The pivotal question remains: How do we harness AI’s potential for positive impact while effectively mitigating its capacity for harm?
Responsible AI involves the conscientious development and application of AI systems to benefit individuals, communities, and society while mitigating potential negative impacts, Liming Zhu and Qinghua Lu advocate.
These principles emphasise eight key areas for ethical AI practices. Firstly, AI should prioritise human, societal, and environmental well-being throughout its lifecycle, exemplified by its use in healthcare or environmental protection. Secondly, AI systems should uphold human-centred values, respecting rights and diversity. However, reconciling different user needs poses challenges. Ensuring fairness is crucial to prevent discrimination, highlighted by critiques of technologies like Amazon’s Facial Recognition.
Moreover, maintaining privacy protection, reliability, and safety is imperative. Instances like Clearview AI’s privacy breaches underscore the importance of safeguarding personal data and conducting pilot studies to prevent unforeseen harms, as witnessed with the chatbot Tay generating offensive content due to vulnerabilities.
Transparency and explainability in AI use are vital, requiring clear disclosure of AI limitations. Contestability enables people to challenge AI outcomes or usage, while accountability demands identification and responsibility from those involved in AI development and deployment. Upholding these principles can encourage ethical and responsible AI behaviour across industries, ensuring human oversight of AI systems.
Identifying problematic AI behaviour can be challenging, especially when AI algorithms drive high-stakes decisions impacting specific individuals. An alarming instance in the U.S. resulted in a longer prison sentence determined by an algorithm, showcasing the dangers of such applications. Qinghua highlighted the issue with “black box” AI systems, where users and affected parties lack insight into and means to challenge decisions made by these algorithms.
Liming emphasised the inherent complexity and autonomy of AI, making it difficult to ensure complete compliance with responsible AI principles before deployment. Therefore, user monitoring of AI becomes crucial. Users must be vigilant and report any violations or discrepancies to the service provider or authorities.
Holding AI service and product providers accountable is essential in shaping a future where AI operates ethically and responsibly. This call for vigilance and action from users is instrumental in creating a safer and more accountable AI landscape.
Australia is committed to the fair and responsible use of technology, especially artificial intelligence. During discussions held on the sidelines of the APEC Economic Leaders Meeting in San Francisco, the Australian Prime Minister unveiled the government’s commitment to responsibly harnessing generative artificial intelligence (AI) within the public sector.
The DTA-facilitated collaboration showcases the Australian Government’s proactive investment in preparing citizens for job landscape changes. Starting a six-month trial from January to June 2024, Australia leads globally in deploying advanced AI services. This initiative enables APS staff to innovate using generative AI, aiming to overhaul government services and meet evolving Australian needs.
Having robust and effective public services is a fundamental goal for every country aiming to enhance the quality of life for its citizens. Quality public services, especially healthcare access, are pivotal in societal well-being and development. As a basic human need, the significance of quality public services in healthcare becomes even more prominent.
New Zealand government is aware of fostering its public services. In light of this, New Zealand has embraced a transformative journey by integrating digital technologies to enhance the accessibility and efficiency of its public services. The introduction of the rural after-hours telehealth service is a testament to the commitment of public health authorities to leverage technology for the benefit of citizens, especially those in remote areas.
This initiative aligns with the broader agenda of digital transformation sweeping across various sectors. The transformative service is co-commissioned by Te Whatu Ora and Te Aka Whai Ora and is delivered through a collaboration between three leading telehealth organisations in New Zealand.
Rural communities now have two convenient methods to access the telehealth service. The public can contact 0800 2 KA ORA (0800 252 672), or their rural healthcare provider can refer them. This dynamic service, operational for a week, has already engaged 20 rural practices, with more set to join in the coming days.
When individuals contact the service, a triage process is initiated by skilled nurses and kaiāwhina. Patients are seamlessly referred to a doctor if necessary. Jess White, general manager of telehealth organisations, spoke about this innovative platform that provides rural communities an additional option for receiving care.
Dr Sarah Clarke, National Clinical Director for one of the telehealth organisations at Te Whatu Ora, underscored the significant impact of this service on the most isolated communities, where access to after-hours care, particularly without reliable internet access, has been a persistent challenge. Selah Hart, Deputy Chief Executive from one of the telehealth organisations at Te Aka Whai Ora, underscores the relief this service brings to rural whānau, particularly those with young children who previously had to endure long journeys for after-hours medical care.
Operational on weekdays from 5:00 pm to 8:00 am and providing 24-hour coverage on weekends and public holidays, the service is staffed by a team of kaiāwhina, nurses, GPs, and emergency medicine specialists. This coverage ensures accessibility for enrolled and unenrolled individuals in rural areas, enabling them to increase their quality of life.
Te Pae Tata, the Interim New Zealand Health Plan 2022, serves as a strategic framework that spotlights the healthcare needs of various demographic groups. Te Pae Tata underscores the importance of enhancing their access to high-quality and timely healthcare services. The emphasis on rural healthcare is a testament to New Zealand’s commitment to equitable health outcomes and a proactive step towards addressing the specific needs of these communities.
This new rural clinical telehealth service complements New Zealand’s existing telehealth options, with Healthline (0800 611 116) continuing its regular operations. As technology evolves, these telehealth services can serve as a foundation for further innovations.
The introduction of this service signifies a commitment to advancing healthcare through digital innovation, ensuring that even the remotest communities have access to quality healthcare, further solidifying New Zealand’s position at the forefront of telehealth advancements.
Across the world, tech is improving health outcomes and patient experiences. For instance, OpenGov Asia reported that in Indonesia’s healthcare industry, robots are crucial, assisting surgeons in procedures, providing rehabilitation therapies, and even delivering medications to patients. Telesurgical robots offer enhanced skill and precision, minimising invasive procedures and improving patient outcomes.
Similarly, in the U.S., researchers at the Pritzker School of Molecular Engineering (PME) at the University of Chicago have harnessed the power of machine learning to revolutionise vaccine design. MIT researchers have introduced medical technology advancements, a wearable ultrasound monitor fashioned as a patch, that holds promising implications for individuals with bladder or kidney disorders, offering a more accessible means to monitor organ functionality.