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Singapore Launches New AI Initiatives at World Economic Forum

World Economic Forum
Photo Credit: World Economic Forum

Singapore new AI initiatives were announced by Mr S Iswaran, Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, and Ms Kay Firth-Butterfield, AI Portfolio Head at the World Economic Forum, at a joint press conference with the WEF’s Centre for the Fourth Industrial Revolution (“WEF C4IR”) at WEF’s Annual Meeting in Davos.

These initiatives follow Singapore’s launch of the Model AI Governance Framework in Davos in 2019, as well as the announcement of Singapore’s National AI Strategy in November 2019, and demonstrate the progress made in supporting organisations in deploying responsible AI.

In the global discourse on AI ethics and governance issue, Singapore believes that its balanced approach can facilitate innovation, safeguard consumer interests, and serve as a common global reference point. Therefore, Singapore announced today a set of new initiatives on AI governance to enhance consumer trust: a. An Implementation and Self-Assessment Guide for Organisations (“ISAGO”); b. A Compendium of Use Cases c. The second edition of the Model AI Governance Framework.

The Model Framework is a living document that sets out two high-level guiding ethical principles to implementing AI. Firstly that decisions made by or with the assistance of AI be explainable, transparent and fair to consumers; and that AI solutions be humancentric.

The Model Framework has seen takeup and alignment from over fifteen organisations of all sizes internationally – from financial giants such as DBS, HSBC, Mastercard and Visa, fintech firms such as Suade Labs, to technology firms such as pymetrics, UCARE.AI and a school, Ngee Ann Polytechnic.

Commenting on the initiatives, Mr V K Rajah SC, Chairman of Singapore’s Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data said, “As AI becomes more pervasive, it is important to build a trusted environment for its use through a multi-stakeholder effort involving public, private and people sectors. Singapore took a huge step today by leading the way in building and sustaining a trusted AI environment. It is encouraging that the collaboration between Singapore and WEF C4IR has borne fruit through the ISAGO, and I encourage organisations to use the guides. The Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data is proud to be part of this journey and will continue to support such efforts in creating an enabling environment for our businesses and citizens.”

Ms Kay Firth-Butterfield, AI Portfolio Head at the World Economic Forum, also said, “There are many challenges with the deployment of AI in companies. The Framework should be considered an essential tool in the governance work which we need to do to ensure that companies us the benefits of AI wisely for their stakeholders and society.”

Implementation and Self-Assessment Guide for Organisations Singapore’s Info-communications Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) and the WEF C4IR announced a collaboration in 2019 to grow discourse on and further AI and data innovation. The result of this collaboration is the newly co-developed ISAGO.

Intended as a companion guide to the Model Framework, ISAGO aims to help organisations assess the alignment of their AI governance practices with the Model Framework. It also provides an extensive list of useful industry examples and practices to help organisations implement the Model Framework. The guide was developed in close consultation with the industry, with contributions from over 60 organisations – such as DataRobot, DBS Bank, Google, KPMG, Mastercard, Microsoft, Salesforce, Suade Labs and Visa.

Compendium of Use Cases To complement the Model Framework and ISAGO, IMDA has also released a Compendium of Use Cases that demonstrates how local and international organisations across different sectors and sizes implemented or aligned their AI governance practices with all sections of the Model Framework. The Compendium also illustrates how the featured organisations have effectively put in place accountable AI governance practices and benefitted from the use of AI in their line of business.

Second Edition of Model Framework To keep pace with AI’s rapid development, Singapore has consulted organisations using AI in Singapore and abroad on how to further strengthen the Model Framework.The second edition includes additional considerations (such as robustness and reproducibility) and refines the original Model Framework for greater relevance and usability. For instance, the section on customer relationship management has been expanded to include considerations on interactions and communications with a broader network of stakeholders.

The second edition of the Model Framework continues to take a sector- and technology-agnostic approach that can complement sector-specific requirements and guidelines.

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 initiatives are key components of Singapore’s National AI Strategy to encourage innovation and build public trust in AI.

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