As tech evolves, so do security needs

Delegates, including representatives from the British military and Chinese firms and academics from the United States, at the opening of Singapore's inaugural Defence Tech Summit, on June 28, 2018.
Delegates, including representatives from the British military and Chinese firms and academics from the United States, at the opening of Singapore's inaugural Defence Tech Summit, on June 28, 2018.ST PHOTO: ALPHONSUS CHERN

Bringing together experts across disciplines can help tackle new threats: Perm Sec

As technology changes how countries defend themselves, societies must broaden their understanding of security to deal with new threats.

Bringing together experts - from the military to businesses - to share their perspectives is one way to "learn what is happening around the world", Permanent Secretary (Defence Development) Neo Kian Hong said yesterday.

"Traditionally, we stay in our own silos," said Mr Neo at the closing press conference of the inaugural Singapore Defence Technology Summit. However, the merging of commercial and defence technologies is what motivated the Singapore Defence Science and Technology Agency to organise this year's summit, he added.

About 400 delegates, including representatives from the British military and Chinese firms and academics from the United States, attended the three-day meeting at the Shangri-La Hotel.

Mr Neo said it was a useful platform to share perspectives on cutting-edge technologies such as cyber security, robotics and data analytics. "Based on the feedback so far, the defence tech summit has met our expectations and the expectations of the delegates," he added, noting that feedback from it will inform the next summit in 2020.

Delegates found the summit useful, "not only the breakout sessions, but also the smaller sessions that they had, in their interactions between themselves", Mr Neo said.

IT professor Stuart Madnick from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology's Sloan School of Management said: "We are going through enormous changes in technology that are affecting private sectors as well as the military.

"Being able to pull together people from around the world to try to talk about the big developments going on, as well as the challenges they propose, is important."

Mr Neo said militaries have expanded to deal with cyber security since the Sept 11, 2001 terror attacks in the US. Previously, "militaries were very focused on conventional defence and... homeland security", he noted.

The topic of cyber security was also raised when summit speakers visited Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong on Thursday, Mr Neo said.

A summit exhibitor, Chinese artificial intelligence firm SenseTime, said that it had signed memoranda of understanding with Nanyang Technological University, National Supercomputing Centre Singapore and Singtel yesterday.

Under the agreements, the organisations will work together to advance artificial intelligence research, accelerate digitalisation for companies and develop artificial intelligence solutions for industries and institutions in Singapore and Asia, a SenseTime spokesman said.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 30, 2018, with the headline 'As tech evolves, so do security needs'. Print Edition | Subscribe