New AI research centre to train 100 postgrads

A new centre has opened here to train up to 100 postgraduate students over the next three years in various fields of artificial intelligence (AI), such as natural language processing and deep learning, where computers are taught to learn by example.

The centre, which officially opened yesterday, is located at American software firm Salesforce's office at Suntec City, and is the firm's first AI research centre out of its research and development hub in Palo Alto, California.

"Singapore is a natural choice to set up an AI research hub with its diversity of talent and its world-class universities," said Mr Richard Socher, Salesforce chief scientist, at the opening.

The firm will be training postgraduate students from Singapore Management University (SMU), the National University of Singapore and Nanyang Technological University (NTU) from August as part of the Economic Development Board's (EDB) Industrial Postgraduate Programme.

The EDB programme is open to Singaporeans and permanent residents.

Salesforce's speciality is in customer relationship management software for companies to better manage their interactions with customers.

Its research arm is behind Salesforce Einstein, an AI product that "learns" from data to deliver predictions and recommendations based on a business' unique processes.

The new research centre adds to the list of AI centres recently opened here, including the Alibaba-NTU Singapore Joint Research Institute and SMU's Centre for AI and Data Governance.

Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran, who attended the event, said the Salesforce centre is an endorsement of the work Singapore is doing in the AI field but added that the industry needs to address the ethical and societal dimension of AI.

"We're keen to work with partners like Salesforce in nurturing the ecosystem whilst we develop talent and ensure the ethical framework is in place to guide us in this journey," he added.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on March 28, 2019, with the headline 'New AI research centre to train 100 postgrads'. Print Edition | Subscribe