Guest Post by Daren Peh | From Japan to Singapore: A Better Life for All Via Cutting-edge Technology Ecosystem
On Thursday, 21st February 2019, I attended the “Next X Asia” meetup. At the two-hour session, four speakers shared insights on how technologies such as blockchain, human-like artificial intelligence and virtual human agents improve our lives.
Wine and other beverages were furnished at the event.
Connectome’s executive director, Yasunori
NTT DoCoMo – a Japanese company – fashioned the “i-mode”, allowing users to send emails in 1999. Sony had already developed mobile payments in 2004, back when flip-phones were still popular. In 2008, mobile phones could already be used to purchase train tickets.
The issue, as Mr Motani said, was that these technologies rarely spread outside of Japan. The Japanese were dormant in terms of marketing. It was only when Apple released the iPhone, that these solutions became socially
Now, however, Japan’s innovations are catching on. Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Blockchain, among others, were popularised and have become common tools in the workplace and
Next X Asia’s model is to bring these technologies to Singapore and market them worldwide.
First Speaker: Dr Pierre Brunswick
The first invited speaker of the night was Dr Pierre Brunswick, CEO and Founder of NeuroMem Technologies. He shared statistics and the rationale behind the advent of AI.
To address the ageing population situation, robotic process automation and machine learning are two of the areas seeing focused AI investment.
Just like how farming jobs reduced when machines were invented, new technologies will mean a shift in how jobs are distributed. Health and science jobs are expected to
“We are the past the stage of digital being a project. It is now a core value,” said Dr Brunswick. He continued with some other examples where AI is used. Neuromorphic Pantheon, which focus on pattern recognition, is being developed at NeuroMem.
Toy cars can be controlled with eye movement. Robots are constantly learning and are able to sift through information.
Second Speaker: Dr Tan Chong Hui
Dr Tan Chong Hui was the next speaker to present. He serves as the Head of Finance Programme at the Singapore University of Social Sciences (SUSS). He explained the concepts behind blockchain and money as a medium.
He brought attention to CryptoKitties, a game developed by Axiom Zen, which centres on blockchain. Similar to cryptocurrencies, CryptoKitties creatures can be bought, sold and traded. At its peak, it sold for SG$140,000.
Dr Tan proceeded to talk about the evolution of money. At its core, money is used as a medium of exchange. Humans form relationships with money, and they are recognised and accepted. Shells were used for payment in China in 1500BCE. When shells became scarce, knife-shaped and spade-shaded bronze were used to buy goods instead.
Cigarettes were used during World War 2 in prison camps. And Bitcoin, too, has become the equivalent of money, where humans have accepted and formed a relationship with it. The cryptocurrency developed by the mysterious Satoshi
In the future, Dr Tan says, any social relationship recorded and communicated can be money.
Third Speaker: Dr Ailiya Borjigin
Dr Ailiya Borjigin, co-founder of Horizontal Education, was the last speaker of the night. Her talk focused on how AI has impacted education and learning. “It (technology) was a competitive edge. Over time, it became a tool. Today, without IT, it’s a disadvantage,” said Dr Borjigin.
She explained the concept of Big Data, using face recognition as an example. When a company used 200,000 photos, the error rate was 1.5%. When 300,000 photos were used, it dwindled to 0.45%. But to reduce it further until face recognition error reached one-in-a-million, 60 million photos were required.
Learning itself has evolved through time. Traditional learning models focus on long lectures and less time for classroom discussion. In the “flipped classroom” model, lectures are shorter, while more emphasis is placed on classroom activities. Hands-on practice helps students to learn faster too. Studying online has also been popularized, where each recorded lecture can be circulated many times over.
At Horizontal Education, studying starts with an online course to learn theories. Students then go on “edu-tours” to observe the theories in practice and finally work together in teams to apply what they learned.
Online lessons for kids are capped at seven minutes, while lessons for adults are no more than ten minutes.
Panel: Moderated by Mr Yuji Akaba
To cap off the event, a panel of four addressed questions from the audience. Mr Yuji Akaba, Co-founder & Managing Director of Breakthrough Partners and Incubation Manager of
Dr Brunswick, Dr Borjigin and Mr Atsushi Ishii, co-founder of Connectome, were the panellists, who also shared their experiences. “Don’t be scared of failure and don’t let it hold you back. Disruptive firms got to where they are because they took risks and weren’t afraid,” said Dr Brunswick.
On the concept of sharing-as-a-service, Dr Borjigin spoke of business models in China which never took off. “Sharing doesn’t always work. From the concepts of sharing bicycles, umbrellas and cars. We are moving backwards in China, and can learn from the US,” she said.
All four agreed that Singapore is the hub for launching. Sound infrastructure and ecosystem make Singapore the platform to propel technology forward. Whereas Japan is good at making hardware, the country struggles to market its technologies.
Dr Brunswick, who hails from Switzerland, ended the Q&A session by saying, “I moved here. I don’t plan to go back to Europe because I trust here and I want to stay and deliver here, so let’s do it all together, bon appétit.”
The discussion ended at around 9.30pm. Guests were then treated to sushi, cakes, strawberries and other delicacies. What an interesting meetup!