Singapore is focusing its artificial intelligence (AI) development on deployment of AI – in particular, in sectors where the city state already has a historical competitive advantage.
Sharing the national AI strategy at the ninth edition of the Smart City Expo World Congress in Barcelona, Minister in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative Dr Vivian Balakrishnan said Singapore believes that AI is a transformative technology.
“It will transform our economy and societies, and disrupt our politics. It will alter the nature of jobs, and the skills our people will need,” he explained. In view of that, Singapore has decided that the technology will define the next phase of its Smart Nation journey.
Dr Balakrishnan, who is also the foreign affairs minister of Singapore, went on to highlight five attributes of AI governance.
“First, we will insist that all AI deployment in Singapore conform to the highest ethical standards.” Earlier this year, Singapore published a Model AI Governance Framework – which was the first such framework in Asia.
The second key attribute was the safety and security of user data. “Without assurances of data security, no one will trust the accumulation of data on a massive scale, and the ability to integrate and use the data,” he said.
It is also important that privacy is being respected, especially when dealing with personal data. A lack of confidence to share information could affect the success of AI products, as it is the ability to share and mash data that provides unique and actionable insights.
A fourth characteristic noted by Dr Balakrishnan is that the AI needs to be human-explainable. “We cannot approach AI as a black box. The solutions and answers proposed have to be comprehensible and explainable in human terms,” he emphasised. Without that ability to explain how you arrive at the solution in terms which human beings can understand and accept, there are bound to be pushbacks.
Last but not least, it is crucial to ensure that outcomes of AI deployment to be socially and politically.
“Having strong governance and insisting on these attributes is not a roadblock to the development of AI,” Minister Balakrishnan stressed.
In the same way the invention of brakes allowed the cars of today to go much faster, having a sound AI governance structure will provide a competitive advantage for the future.