The Budding AI Landscape in Singapore

01/10/2020

The Budding AI Landscape in Singapore

Singapore is hoping to advance as a leading digital economy and Smart Nation. AI was identified as one of the 4 core technologies essential to Singapore’s push towards being digitally ready. To this end, Singapore is the first Asian nation to develop an AI framework with the World Economic Forum’s Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution, enabling the country to continue investing in and building AI capabilities, and remain competitive on a global scale.

According to a report by Accenture, AI can potentially reinvigorate Singapore’s economy and add up to US$215 billion in gross value across 11 industries by 2035. AI is one of the fastest-growing sectors and no country has the necessary number of qualified workers to meet current demands but Singapore.

The development of intuitive, human-like technologies will not happen without a coordinated effort by Singapore’s government agencies, and entrepreneurs who are willing to adopt AI technology into their everyday lives.

Which industries will see the benefits of AI-first?

  • Financial and business services

Machine learning (ML) and AI has been applied across the financial industry, delivering better customer service, reducing operating costs, and detecting fraud. E.g. AI can be applied to a real-time onboarding system that collects information quickly from clients digitally, answers questions immediately, and clarifies information gaps on the spot.

The industry is also using facial recognition technology to resolve issues of verification, speeding up lending processes. Other business services such as real estate, accounting, and legal fields benefit from document mining, pattern recognition, information extraction, and analysis, transforming and innovating the generation of insights.

  • Healthcare

AI tools are now able to detect skin cancers, analyze chest x-rays, and perform diabetes screens from a patient’s retina scan. In a few short years, doctors can count digital tools as indispensable as their physical ones. PWC’s report in healthcare (2019) highlights 8 ways healthcare is being transformed: Keeping well, early detection, diagnosis, decision making, treatment, end-of-life care, research, and training.

  • Education

Robots are already helping to teach in some preschools. A teaching robot called KIBO has been designed to allow young children to construct the robot and use wooden blocks to program sequential instructions for the robot. KIBO is not even the first robot to help pre-school teachers. In 2016, 2 humanoid robots called Pepper and Nao were sent to two schools to take part in a 7-month trial. Another way AI impacts the education sector is through the global need for more AI talent through public awareness and education. Schools are now incorporating coding classes as part of their curriculum.

Why does Singapore become a thriving hub for AI?

  • Government leads the way in AI adoption

Singapore’s forward-thinking government is one of the early adopters of AI, which is a key factor in driving AI development and adoption in the country. For instance, the government has committed more than S$500 million to fund AI activities under the Research, Innovation, and Enterprise 2020 (RIE2020) plan. Deploying AI at a national scale in Singapore is just a problem of time.

 

As a pioneer leader of artificial intelligence, the nation’s ambitious Smart Nation initiative, which leverages data and harnesses technology to improve the lives of all citizens, is netting Singapore countless accolades. Singapore won the City Award at the Smart City Expo World Congress 2018, and in October 2019, topped the inaugural IMD Smart City Index, beating global cities like Zurich, Oslo, and Geneva.

 

  • Singapore’s digital ecosystem is crucial to AI development

A significant financial investment in infrastructure has been vital for Singapore’s digital advancement. In 2018, Singapore came up as the top location for AI and robotics investments, beating cities like Shanghai, Beijing, and Dubai (fDi intelligence report). In 2016 alone, the country awarded S$2.82 billion (US$1.98 billion) worth of info-comm technology contracts through the government’s Smart Nation initiative, two-thirds of which was devoted to investment in physical infrastructure, including expanding cabling and networks, high-speed Wi-Fi, and IT security.

 

Alongside these major projects, the city-state encourages public-private partnerships between business, academia, and government through the National Research Foundation. It’s also set to increase its own data storage capacity by 25 percent – a move that will allow public and private AI applications to draw from the huge reserve of open data.

 

Besides, Singapore’s talent pool enables multinational companies to find the required skill sets to match growth opportunities, thanks to the country’s outstanding education system, and a technology sector rich with public-private initiatives.

Conclusion

With a thriving digital ecosystem – underpinned by its infrastructure, policy, and enablers – Singapore is fast becoming a hotspot for AI experimentation and innovation. Strong investment in digital infrastructure, a growing pool of IT expertise and a hyper-connected population mean the country is making outsized gains in a new technological landscape, making Singapore fertile ground for MNCs to grow their business.

Don’t become a laggard in the flourishing AI hub in Singapore. Contact our representative today to find out how to harness the advantage of Singapore to improve your productivity and bring tangible value to your everyday operations.