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Singapore unveils national AI strategy

At Smart City Expo World Congress last week, Singapore launched its National Artificial Intelligence (AI) Strategy in an effort to maintain its reputation for smart city technologies and to become a test-bed and global hub for AI solution development.

At SCEWC, Dr. Vivian Balakrishnan, Minister-in-charge of the Smart Nation Initiative and Minister of Foreign Affairs, Republic of Singapore, stated, “We believe that AI is a transformative technology. The fact that computers and systems can now see, hear, understand and speak is transformational.”

She added, “It will transform our economy and societies, and disrupt our politics. It will alter the nature of jobs, and the skills our people will need. Consequently, we have decided that AI will define the next phase of our Smart Nation journey.”

The city-state, which has been widely viewed as one of the world’s smartest cities, has in fact, set up its very own National AI Office to further its AI agenda and ensure collaboration between academia, industry and government stakeholders.

Singapore has identified five National AI projects which focus on a variety of sectors such as logistics, healthcare, education, smart cities and security.

“As a small open economy, Singapore welcomes opportunities to collaborate with businesses and talents over the world to realize our National AI strategy. As Singapore transforms its key sectors through AI, there will be many opportunities for businesses and investors to work together to research, develop and deploy AI solutions. We aspire to be the Launchpad for businesses to test these solutions and bring them to the rest of Southeast Asia, and beyond,” said Balakrishnan.

The fact that Singapore is a city-state means that it has a somewhat nimble government which makes it inherently easier to adapt regulations and to facilitate the testing and deployment of new tech.

“We have a technologically savvy population and are a global trade and economic hub,” explained Balakrishnan.

Indeed, the mobile penetration rate of Singapore is 150 percent, with around 80-90 percent smartphone ownership.

Singapore has previously been a heavy investor of AI research innovation, having invested over $366.6 million. They have pledged to carry on with developing their AI and R&D capabilities.

“AI will change the world and cities that master AI will get ahead. If you do not, you are at risk of being left behind,” concluded Balakrishnan.