Singapore should strive to become regional AI centre

A recent report noted that, worldwide, there is no broad agreement as yet on the need to regulate or enforce codes of conduct or ethics for artificial intelligence (Age of AI: Why it's urgent to regulate a revolution; May 23).

It also pointed out that the world has yet to develop wide-ranging countermeasures to cope with job losses caused by the use of AI, or to deal with the complex social and economic implications brought about by AI in the future.

Singapore has to grab the opportunities and face the challenges of the AI age.

Being a small player, our strategy is to study the latest trends in AI development in big economies, learn about how these nations are regulating and enforcing the codes of conduct and choose a strategy most suitable for our setting.

Likewise, we will learn the good ways to cope with the social and economic impacts of AI from such economies.

To capitalise on the business opportunities of AI, however, we should proactively place ourselves in the forefront.

A report by the South China Morning Post last year cited our Government's strong backing for technology research as one of the key advantages we have in capitalising on AI opportunities.

We have other favourable factors as well, such as a reputable and reliable production base for computer, electronic, electrical and machinery parts and equipment; as well as our world-class universities and various research institutions.

Producing AI products is a natural and logical path for us to pursue. In addition, we should do our own research and development in AI software to position Singapore as the regional AI centre.

We also need to equip our workers to develop better decision-making skills, tackle ambiguity, handle inter-personal matters and solve conflicts.

Workers with good mental and social skills will remain indispensable in the AI age.

Albert Ng Ya Ken

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 25, 2018, with the headline 'Singapore should strive to become regional AI centre'. Print Edition | Subscribe