Singapore Updates AI Strategy to Tackle Generative AI Risks

Singapore Updates AI Strategy to Tackle Generative AI Risks

Singapore has updated its AI strategy, which will see it triple AI talent, address the emerging risks from generative AI, and have implications for users.

The updated strategy comes as Singapore is also angling to move forward in the global race for AI supremacy.

Under the updated strategy launched on Dec. 4, which also coincided with the inaugural Singapore Conference on AI (SCAI), Singapore will establish an “iconic” site to nurture an AI community.

The new strategy, known as National AI Strategy 2.0: AI for the Public Good for Singapore and the World, stresses harnessing AI to ensure the technology serves the public good.

Generative AI renews interest

The original AI strategy was launched in 2019. Since then, a lot has happened in the AI sector. There have been major developments in generative AI spurred by OpenAI’s ChatGPT, which was released last November to immediate success.

Such tools, with the ability to create text, images, audio, videos, and “near human-like intelligence,” can be used by “anyone with an internet connection.”

These developments have necessitated the need to update the existing strategy to capture the potential risks and address them in a way that benefits all stakeholders.

Announcing the revised plan, Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong emphasized the need for Singapore to harness AI benefits for the good of the public. This includes being watchful of the downsides of the technology, such as job losses, misinformation, deepfakes, cyberattacks, and scams.

“Knowledge-based work like research, coding, and writing was considered safe from disruption in the past. But with AI, that is no longer the case,” said DPM in reference to generative AI breakthroughs.

The world has seen an array of generative AI tools as tech firms also battle to take the leading role in the technology, which is projected to transform economies.

Generative AI, according to DPM Wong, sparked renewed interest “about the potential of AI, its risks, and its implications for humanity.

“Discussions about AI’s potential benefits and threats are not new, but we are venturing into uncharted territory,” he said.

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Expanding AI talent

The initial 2019 strategy was aimed at deploying AI use cases in specific sectors like education, health, and security. But the updated strategy now also looks at expanding AI practitioners to about 15,000 through training locals as well as hiring from overseas.

“The government plans to invest significantly in adult education and training to reskill and upskill our workers,” said DPM Wong.

According to The Straits Times, the group of personnel to undergo training includes data and machine learning scientists. Also included in this are engineers who, according to DPM Wong, are the backbone of translating AI into real-world apps.

A dedicated and iconic site, whose location is yet to be announced, will host AI developers and users together to form a tightly knit community that inspires innovation.

Addressing biases

Research is expected to be at the heart of the updated strategy as Singapore seeks to make AI developments from an informed perspective.

While researchers focus on how AI can improve “its understanding of logical and physical concepts and be able to explain its answers,” research is also expected to investigate responsible AI as part of tackling concerns over biases in AI databases and the accuracy of its answers.

Despite its transformative power, generative AI has also generated a lot of criticism due to its biases around gender, ethnicity, race, and language.

While Singapore might not compete with superpowers in AI, DPM Wong indicated plans to “back its ambitions with computing power and infrastructure to meet the needs of the growing industry.”

“We will not be able to compete with the major powers in assembling raw computing power, but we will do everything we can to ensure that we have the computing power to meet our growing research needs and industry demands and to fully support our strategic AI agenda.”

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