Forum: AI gives Singapore a chance to compete better with bigger countries

Electronic components on the motherboard, microprocessor chip. PHOTO: PIXABAY

The Smart Nation and Digital Government Office has outdone itself in coming up with a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy that is distinctively Singaporean.

The strategy plays to Singapore's strengths in education, healthcare and transport, and also details a timeline for deployment in 2022, 2025 and 2030.

The schedule and committed projects show that Singapore is a serious contender on the world stage.

Hence, Singaporeans needn't worry about being handicapped against countries with more talent, money or data.

Consider how an AI-personalised education experience could look like in 2030. An AI version of our famous 10-year series assessment books could augment a student's learning experience by assigning questions that maximally benefit him. Students would spend more time on questions that result in mastery, reducing time spent ineffectually on rote learning. This would level the playing field for all Singaporeans.

Or consider AI's foray into healthcare. The strategy paper lists plans to develop novel AI models for patients with chronic illness, which shows the Ministry of Health understands AI's potential to effect better health outcomes.

My own idea of a novel AI model is one that "shadows" Doctor A on some days, and Doctor B on others. The AI can be selectively fed a doctor's notes and case files. Could this revolutionise clinical decision support? After all, there are no physical limits on the number of AI pupils a doctor can train, or the amount of time AI can spend in tutelage.

These are just some examples of what it would be like for AI to fulfil Singapore's vision of doing better. It would be exciting to hear more from direct stakeholders.

We have traditionally been limited by our small size and limited human resources. Today, AI gives us the chance to go beyond those limits by augmenting our already world-class expertise.

Whether Singaporeans are successful in doing so will depend on their ability to capitalise on their strengths and think outside the box. Huang Yipeng

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