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Singapore government to form AI advisory council

New council will develop standards and guidelines to address ethical issues arising from the growing use of artificial intelligence

The Singapore government is setting up an artificial intelligence (AI) advisory council to ensure the ethical use of AI and data in the city-state.

The council will work with consumer advocates and the ethical boards of enterprises to help the government develop ethical standards and guidelines. It will also issue advisories and codes of practices.

When ready, these standards and guidelines can be applied in business processes such as operations management, according to the Singapore government’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

Former attorney-general VK Rajah has been appointed chairman of the advisory council. The other council members, including private sector thought leaders in AI and big data from local and global companies, will be announced later.

The formation of the new council was among a raft of AI-related initiatives announced by S Iswaran, Singapore’s minister for communications and information, during a tech conference in Singapore this week.

Other initiatives include setting up a five-year research programme at a new Singapore Management University (SMU) research centre to conduct scholarly research on governance, ethics and other issues related to AI and data. The research is expected to shape the advisory council’s work and inform the government on AI challenges.

The SMU centre is also working with Digital Asia Hub, a non-profit internet and society research think-tank, and Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Centre for Internet and Society to organise a forum in September 2018 that will focus on the ethical and governance challenges of AI from a policy perspective.

Read more about AI in ASEAN

  • Forward-looking organisations in ASEAN are embracing artificial intelligence, but uneven access to connectivity and a lack of skills and understanding of the technology are holding back wider adoption.
  • Most Singapore respondents in a global Accenture survey said they have not invested in capabilities to verify data used in decision-making.
  • Alibaba has set up a joint research facility at Singapore’s Nanyang Technological University to develop artificial intelligence-based technologies in retail, transportation and healthcare.
  • Private investment firm Marvelstone Group plans to build an artificial intelligence hub in Singapore.

Separately, Singapore’s Personal Data Protection Commission is compiling a discussion paper that describes the key principles to guide responsible development and adoption of AI, such as making sure that decisions made or assisted by AI should be explainable, transparent, fair and human-centric.  

Australia has also expressed the need to develop ethical guidelines and standards for the use of AI. Alan Finkel, Australia’s chief scientist, recently proposed a so-called Turing Certificate to certify AI products and business processes.

Read more on Artificial intelligence, automation and robotics

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