The Singapore government has launched a slew of initiatives to drive awareness of the benefits and challenges of artificial intelligence (AI). Among these is an advisory council on the ethical use of AI and data.
The initiatives, which also include engagement with industry, consumers and academia to develop a discussion paper on AI and personal data and a research programme on AI governance and data use, were announced at by Singapore minister for communications and information S Iswaran at an innovation event last week.
Advisory council on ethical use of AI and data
Mr Iswaran said the advisory council on ethical use of AI and data will comprise representatives from technology companies, users of AI, and those who can provide consumers’ and societal perspectives. The council work closely with key stakeholder groups to lead discussions and provide guidance to the government on the responsible development and deployment of AI.
It will also develop ethics standards and reference governance frameworks, issue advisory guidelines, practical guidance and codes of practice for voluntary adoption by businesses.
Discussion paper on AI and data governance framework
To encourage the adoption of AI, the government is preparing a paper on AI and personal data, which will form a baseline for discussion, and describes the key components of responsible development and adoption of AI, including governance, consumer relationship management, and the decision-making and risk assessment framework.
Two key principles that have been put forth are that (i) decisions made by or with the assistance of AI should be explainable, transparent and fair, and (ii) AI systems, robots and decisions made using AI, should be human-centric.
Mr Iswaran noted that the Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS) has been an active collaborator in the conceptualisation of the discussion paper. In partnership with key stakeholders, MAS will use the paper to help shape its ongoing discussions on the use of AI and data analytics in the financial industry.
Research programme on governance of AI and data use
Mr Iswaran also highlighted in his speech that to support the work of the advisory council, the Singapore government will also be setting up a five-year research programme on the governance of AI and data use. The programme seeks to advance discourse in ethical, legal, policy and governance issues arising from AI and data use, and will enable Singapore to drive thought leadership on these issues and serve as a centre for knowledge exchange with international experts. It will adopt an international perspective and track international developments in these specific research areas.
“We must leverage frontier technologies such as AI. Its immense potential, especially when combined with strong data, is well-recognised and that is why we have launched industry programmes to support the development and adoption of AI solutions. It is a journey that private enterprises and consumers must walk together with the Government. And we must also be plugged into the global flow of ideas, talent and opportunities,” said Mr Iswaran.
Singapore has also been developing talent in AI, with the government-driven AI apprenticeship programme having started last November and on target to train 200 apprentices over three years in the field.