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Over the past two years, the Fourth Industrial Revolution has seen a national artificial intelligence (AI) strategy as a prerequisite for digital competitiveness and a key pillar of national governance. Last week, Singapore has gained global attention by announcing a new, revised national AI plan.

Singapore, together with the UAE, was one of the first countries to declare, back in 2017, a regional AI plan. The latest one, launched on the last day of last week’s FinTech Festival in Singapore by Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat, is comprehensive and zero-in on some clear national targets. It also leverages investments in education, technology development, infrastructure and entrepreneurship already made by the government.

Developed by the Smart Nation Digital Government Office (SNDGO), the AI strategy not only recognizes key areas that AI will activate and the tools needed to support national AI adoption but also aims to create Singapore as a leading global hub for AI software growth, testing, and export. Recently ranked as the city’s most ready for AI by the think tank Oliver Wyman Forum, Singapore’s role in developing commercial and government AI systems has a lot to do.

At a time when cross-border foreign direct investment and venture capital between the two AI powerhouses has been at its lowest level since 2014, Singapore is strategically and economically well-positioned against the backdrop of the China-US trade war. Meanwhile, the combination of the country’s willingness to implement AI and the nation’s small size makes it an ideal testing ground for AI developers to try out their solutions before trying to export them to larger countries, where execution may face more barriers and cost more.

Singapore’s strategy identifies key innovation and adoption enablers for AI, including talent development, data infrastructure, and the creation of a progressive and trusted AI environment. It also chooses five core development initiatives designed to deliver early gains, though, crucially, while creating opportunities for community creativity and investment. Singapore is also planning the proof of concept for its goal of becoming a regional center for the advancement of AI technology by selecting AI-enabled initiatives that tackle national problems and provide a visible impact on society and the economy.

It’s no coincidence that in 2017, the UAE, Finland, and Singapore all first committed themselves to national AI strategies alongside large nations like Canada and China, but well ahead of most of the world. All three countries have populations of less than 10 million, relatively large economies, and were able to stay ahead of the technology curve.

Such countries ‘ forward-looking agendas and smaller sizes have helped make it quicker and more feasible to embrace new technology than many larger countries with larger budgets, also enabling them to leapfrog international rivals.

Finland, Singapore, and the UAE were all early pioneers of e-government to help develop new forms for electronic government. We were also all early adopters of modern telecommunications and consumer technologies, including mobile broadband.

It makes perfect sense, therefore, that smaller digital-savvy countries should be able to take leadership positions in AI’s rapidly developing world.


Autor(en)/Author(s): Shreyas Tanna

Quelle/Source: IT Technology News 24, 26.11.2019

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