(Featured Image: Analytics Singapore)
2018 saw the advancement of existing technologies and emergence of many new ones in Singapore. Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology in particular grew by leaps and bounds. What do we have in store for us for the rest of 2019? Read on to find out.
Trend 1: More AI creations in the eldercare and financial services sectors
It will react to your touch, and respond to its name. This is Paro the robot seal, and it has been touching the hearts of elderly patients all around the world. Supported by AI technology, it is able to adapt to the owner’s preferred behaviour and avoid behaviours that the owner dislikes. It is thus a good companion and aide in therapy sessions.
In Singapore, a chatbot is being developed for the elderly to easily obtain a preliminary assessment of their health, and to make medical appointments with clinics or hospitals. By interacting with the elderly, this chatbot will take note of their symptoms. It can even get a queue number from the emergency department if need be.
A*STAR has developed an AI-enabled sensor detector to automate cancer detection and track the progress of tumour growth. The new method of detection is cheaper and faster. It also does not require lab expertise, unlike traditional methods of cancer detection.
Similarly, the local financial industry has also been gaining ground on AI creations. OCBC and DBS have both released chatbots and AI-supported Human Resource technologies. ‘Emma’, the OCBC chatbot, helps the bank to process customer loans. The chatbot in its new HR mobile application can provide instant personalised answers to any HR-related questions from the employees. Meanwhile, DBS has introduced “Jim”, the AI agent which helps with the handling of job applications to DBS. Both banks also have new AI initiatives in the works. DBS is testing a new F&B chatbot that will allow customers to order food and drinks via online chat; and OCBC launching an in-house lab to research potential AI applications.
With strong interest in AI seen, we can expect new AI technologies and initiatives in these 2 industries in the rest of this year.
Trend 2: More local governmental efforts to push the frontier of AI
AI Singapore is a national programme to build Singapore’s capabilities in AI. It has strong support and funding from government bodies. The National Research Foundation (NRF) will invest up to $150 million over the next 5 years in the programme. It is supported by the Smart Nation and Digital Government Office, the Economic Development Board, SGInnovate, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the Integrated Health Information Systems.
AI Singapore programme
The scope of the AI Singapore programme includes support for AI research and competitions to drive innovative AI applications. It also manages 4 talent development programmes catered to various levels of expertise.
- AI for everyone: courses offered by Microsoft and Intel which offers a free workshop to 10,000 individuals to expose them to AI.
- AI for industry and students: courses for professionals and students to develop basic applications, subsidised by IMDA.
- Apprenticeship programme: apprenticeships that help groom local talents over a course of nine months while providing them with pay.
100 Experiments programme
AI Singapore’s flagship programme, “100 Experiments”, aims to demonstrate 100 ways to use AI. 100 Experiments welcomes organisations to propose problem statements which currently do not have a commercial off-the-shelf AI solution. These problems should also be potentially solved by researchers in Singapore’s research institutes in 9 to 18 months. Once accepted, AI Singapore will provide funding of up to S$100,000 (matched by the organisation) for research work to be done. Through this initiative, industrial players get to further their production capabilities through AI. The various institutes also build their skills at creating AI solutions.
The National Research Foundation is also launching a NRF Fellowship for AI, to recruit researchers from all around the world to conduct AI research in Singapore. The Fellowship grants up to S$3 million and freedom for fellows to lead research in SIngapore.
Besides AI Singapore, the Monetary Association of Singapore (MAS) has also launched an Artificial Intelligence and Data Analytics (AIDA) Grant. This is under their Financial Sector Technology and Innovation (FSTI) Scheme. It will fund up to 50% of the project costs for projects that leverage AI. Temasek, Singapore’s state investment firm, is also setting up new groups to explore investment opportunities in AI projects.
Through these efforts, Singapore government has been actively encouraging the development of a more vibrant AI system and strong talent pool of AI professionals in Singapore. Expect more governmental funding, grants and opportunities in AI in 2019.
Trend 3: More MNCs partnering with local educational and research institutions on AI projects
The Nanyang Technological University (NTU) has signed a 5-year agreement with tech giant Alibaba to develop AI applications together. With this, Alibaba has decided to locate one of its global research lab (out of 7 labs globally) in Singapore. A total of 50 researchers from both NTU and Alibaba will work together to develop AI ecosystems for users and businesses. They will also research on ways to be more efficient and secure in operations.
The National University of Singapore (NUS) also has big plans for research on AI. The institution plans to collaborate with tech giant Microsoft to leverage on AI. It will work with Microsoft Academic Graph to accelerate research processes while obtaining better results.
Besides working with NUS, Microsoft is also partnering AI Singapore under the Microsoft-AISG Joint Innovation Programme. A 3-year project, it aims to up AI expertise in the Professionals, Managers, Executives and Technicians (PMETs) population.
The Singapore Management University (SMU) has also joined the AI fray. It established a partnership between its School of Law and Canada-based AI company Element AI. The collaboration will look into areas related to the governance of AI. SMU will carry out research focusing on Singapore, while Element AI will focus on North America.
With many collaborations with established players, the AI scene in Singapore is set to blossom with lots of opportunities. Sit tight as the rest of 2019 is set to present new exciting developments on the AI front in Singapore.