Govt support, private efforts needed to build Smart Nation

It will do us well to not forget the political dimension of building a Smart Nation, especially its related misconceptions (What does a Smart Society look like?; July 24).

One misconception is that the Government will exploit the technologies to intrude into the private lives of citizens and create an Orwellian society with mass state surveillance.

The onus is on the political leadership to allay such fears, and this can be achieved if there is trust in the Government.

Another misconception is that the Government is the sole agent that can bring about a Smart Society.

A Smart Society, however, is largely a product of imagination and innovation. This is best left to start-ups with daring ideas. Too much top-down control from the Government will kill the spirit of innovation.

But, the Government should facilitate such development, through funding incentives, for example, without being too restrictive. Flexibility is key.

A Smart Society is largely a product of imagination and innovation. This is best left to start-ups with daring ideas. Too much top-down control from the Government will kill the spirit of innovation.

Most importantly, leaders must change their misconceptions and become more tolerant of mavericks.

A future-ready society needs mavericks to challenge conventional wisdom and change the rules at times. But, these mavericks must have the courage and conviction to push through their ideas.

The Darwinian process will ensure that only some mavericks will survive. But, that is critical for creating a Smart Society, for it too is a Darwinian process.

Wong Horng Ginn

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on July 28, 2018, with the headline 'Govt support, private efforts needed to build Smart Nation'. Print Edition | Subscribe