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Government plan an inter-agency taskforce to assess how Singapore develops AI capabilities

Mr Vivian Balakrishnan, Singapore’s Minister-in-charge of Smart Nation Initiative, who was speaking in parliament last Thursday at the Committee of Supply 2019 Debate spoke of how better use of AI could improve lives and economies.

“AI, data analytics, robotics, and automation are crucial ingredients for us to restructure our economy,” the minister said.

He pointed out that AI, in particular deep machine learning, had revolutionised the industry in recent years such as voice recognition, GPS automation, and credit card fraud alerts.

He said Singapore had been building a foundation for AI, such as the National Research Foundation’s setting up of AI Singapore to bring together relevant research institutions and AI start ups and GovTech’s plans to set up a Centre of Excellence in AI and data science to help other agencies deploy AI technologies.

In January, as previously covered by OpenGov, the Minister for Communications and Information also released a Model AI Governance Framework that outlined key ethical principles and practices in the use of AI.

Inter-agency taskforce global hub for AI solutions

Mr Balakrishnan said that an inter-agency taskforce would “study how Singapore can develop AI as a strategic capability and become a trusted global hub for test-bedding, deploying, and scaling AI solutions, especially in a highly urbanised city like Singapore,for citizens, this means new and better services, whether from govt or private sector.”

He noted that AI could be used to optimise traffic lights network and predictive public infrastructure maintenance and identify potential problems before things broke down. He said AI applications could be deployed in finance, logistics, and cybersecurity, and added that there already were local companies developing products in these areas and other domains.

AI and Data science should be taught in schools

The Singapore government would look to build up local AI know-how and equip the nation so everyone could benefit from AI, the minister said. This meant computational thinking and data literacy would need to be taught in schools, and adults could be trained in data science and AI skills.

The Minister added “Think of AI in the future the same way you think of word processing today. It’s a general purpose technology and we want our workforce to be able to use AI tools and participate meaningfully in a future AI-driven economy.”

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