AI ethics comes into sharp focus for Singapore Government

To drive adoption and maximise the benefits of AI, it is absolutely critical that trust is built through responsible use.

A new paradigm has emerged with COVID-19 accelerating digitalisation communities and the business landscape. According to S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, Singapore businesses are compelled to adopt digital solutions that enable telecommuting and e-commerce, for business continuity.

“As Singapore and other countries gradually reopen our economies and borders, there will also be more demand for solutions to support safe distancing management,” he said. “Novel technologies such as Artificial Intelligence (AI) are critical to support businesses in adapting to this new normal. In recent years, AI has risen as a frontier technology that holds much potential to improve lives, enhance productivity, and open entirely new fields and growth opportunities.”

According to Minister Iswaran to drive adoption and maximise the benefits of AI, it is absolutely critical that trust is built through responsible use.

“This cannot be overemphasised,” he said. “Responsible adoption of AI can boost companies’ efficiencies, facilitate decision-making and help employees, in turn, upskill into more enriching and meaningful jobs. Above all, we want to build a progressive, safe, and trusted AI environment that benefits businesses and workers, and drives economic transformation.”
During the World Economic Forum Annual Meeting in January this year, the Singapore Government launched a suite of AI governance initiatives. This is something that IMDA has been working on with many partners.

“The aim is to guide organisations to deploy AI responsibly, and to build the critical success factor of trust,” said the Minister. “These initiatives included the second edition of the Model AI Governance Framework or what is referred to as the Model Framework, which translates ethical principles into practical measures for organisations to adopt, and that is key to translate what is at the conceptual level to operational reality.”

The Implementation and Self-Assessment Guide for Organisations and Compendium of Use Cases is also another initiative to help organisations align their governance practices with the Model Framework, noted the Minister.
“Several organisations have come forward to share how they have adopted practices in the Model Framework, and these include AI Singapore, Google, Microsoft, and Taiger,” he said. “The City of Darwin in Australia has also implemented the Model Framework for its CCTV Data Analytics project. You can learn about their experiences in Volume Two of the Compendium of Use Cases, which will be published by IMDA and PDPC today.”

Minister Iswaran states to deploy AI responsibly, businesses also need access to the counsel of experts who are proficient in AI ethics and governance.

“In this regard, I am pleased to announce that we and the SCS is launching the AI Ethics and Governance Body of Knowledge (BoK),” he said. “The BoK is a reference document that will guide the development of curricula on AI ethics and governance. It will also form the basis of future training and certification for professionals – both in the ICT and non-ICT domains.”

According to the Minister, these professionals will serve as advisors for businesses on the responsible implementation of AI solutions. The BoK is a document that constantly has to be updated based on the Model Framework and will have to respond to the changes in the environment because this is a fast moving technology and the relevance is only sustained when it adapts to the evolution of technology.
“The BoK is first and foremost an industry-driven initiative, and I want to thank the many collaborators who contributed to creating the robust curricula. These include Dr Yaacob Ibrahim and Dr Chong Yoke Sin, who are the honorary patron and chairperson, respectively, of the AI Ethics and Governance Steering Committee,” he said.

The Minister also announced the collaboration between Nanyang Technological University (NTU) and SCS to create the first certification course based on the BoK – the Certificate in AI Ethics and Governance with NTU. This certification course will equip professionals with skills and knowledge on AI ethics, so they can deploy AI in a responsible and human-centric manner in their work.

“Beyond the work on AI, the Government will continue to work with industry partners like SCS to address evolving workforce needs,” he said. “Despite the current economic downturn, the ICT sector remains a bright spot with many career opportunities for Singaporeans, ranging from tech-lite to deep tech jobs.”




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