Singapore’s National Research Foundation (NRF) will invest S$150 million ($107.3 million) in building the city-state’s capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI), with an emphasis on finance, healthcare and city management solutions.
According to Singapore’s Minister for Communications and Information, Yaacob Ibrahim, this will address major challenges related to managing healthcare issues in an ageing society or improving traffic management during peak hour using AI.
He announced the new initiative. AI.SG, on Wednesday (May 3, 2017) at the annual technology conference Innovfest. This initiative will also tap into the local community through networking events, hackathons, and provide them with shared resources and facilities.
This includes software tools, open source frameworks, anonymised datasets and other AI high-performance computing resources. The initiative targets to establish 100 AI projects to solve ‘real-world’ problems.
“AI.SG builds on the current A.I. knowledge and capabilities that we have built up across our Singapore-based research institutions with our past R&D investments,” said Professor Low Teck Seng, CEO of NRF, in a statement.
Steve Leonard, the head of SGInnovate, said in his keynote, “We do not want to be simply adopters, we want to be creators, builders, we want to have an influential role, we want to shape what’s happening not just in ASEAN but in places around the world. There’s this whole thing about what is a machine, and can it think. So I think there’s some really interesting opportunities for us to experiment and explore, and the other part of my goal for today is just to say this simple thing. Things will always change and its not our goal to wait for some perfect moment.”
Leonard adds that the new initiative is intended to “bring together people to focus on this topic, whether its natural language understanding, computer vision, analytics,” and drew parallels between the AI sector and the innovation of the automobile industry.
It aims to drive the adoption of AI solutions by companies to increase productivity and create solutions that will see the involvement of several government agencies. This includes the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and Integrated Health Information Systems.
Dr Yaacob also announced the setting up of the Singapore Data Science Consortium, intended to establish a greater depth for research related to data science, as well as driving industry adoption.
This organisation will be anchored by the National University of Singapore (NUS), Nanyang Technological University (NTU), the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) and the Singapore Management University (SMU). In addition, it will also develop a local talent pipeline for building a manpower base with deep data science capabilities.
“AI and data science are key frontier technologies that the Singapore Government will harness and build capabilities in. In the longer run, such investments will enhance the economic opportunities for all Singaporeans,” said Dr Yaacob.