Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat recently announced that the country will be setting aside an additional S$180 million on top of the S$500 million dollars to accelerate artificial intelligence (AI) research. The announcement was made at the Singapore Fintech Festival x Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 2021.
In an opening speech, Heng announced that the S$180 million would be set aside to accelerate fundamental and translational AI research. Fundamental AI research refers to advancing novel new applications for AI, while translational AI research refers to the application of AI in translating data into insights.
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In addition, Heng also announced two new national AI programmes, targeted at the finance industry and government sector, the National AI Programme in Finance and the National AI Programme in Government.
These announcements were made as part of three broad strategies listed out by Heng Swee Keat on how the country can recover from COVID-19.
“We must rebuild a better world in the wake of the devastation caused by COVID-19. We must decisively tackle global challenges such as climate change. The next few years will determine the trajectory of humanity for decades to come. We can collectively do much more to amplify the impact of innovation and the momentum of change, to build a better world,” said Heng.
Heng also added, “We’re using AI to develop more personalised jobs and skills recommendations. Based on our pilot, this new tool has improved total job placements by 20 per cent. This will allow us to better understand the pain points and serve citizens better. One of the areas where we will focus more and invest more funds is resource-efficient AI. As a small country, our data sets are also small. So we need to better train our machines to learn from small but high-quality data sets.”
The national AI programme in finance will be an industry-wide AI platform for financial risk insights generation, called NovAI. It will focus on helping financial institutions better assess a company’s environmental impact and identify emerging environmental risks. With the programme, Singapore-based banks and local FinTech companies will collaborate to better enable financial institutions to assess investments and the associated risks and checks against greenwashing.
The second AI programme would be on the government front, and it aims to improve public sector service delivery in several weeks. One area of this programme would be in the use of AI text analytics or to make better sense of the large number of feedback that frontline agencies receive each year. Heng also informed that Singapore is seeing initial returns from its national AI strategy efforts.