Artificial Intelligence (AI), once a distant dream, has now turned into a reality. It powers and impacts several areas of human life these days. Right from the morning alarm, to managing inventory at work, to operating cash flows for a business, the AI is taking care of many things that earlier required building complex algorithms. Interestingly, this is merely the tip of the iceberg that has uncovered. The human mind is still in the process of realizing the full capabilities of AI and exploiting it for the mutual benefit of society and nature.
Although AI has been around for a few years, it is still in very nascent stages of its development. A lot of this gets attributed to the fact that AI systems require a lot of tweaking and time. The computers employed for AI need to interact with the humans, or the nature to understand the complexity of the task, data gathering and filtration process, and to achieve the desired output in the correct format. Therefore, it is advisable to employ AI as soon as possible to not only save time but also ensure high-quality output when the machine is left unattended.
Singapore, as a country, has been quick in realizing the power of AI. It is one of the primary reasons why the state has decided to invest heavily in developing standards and innovations that will define AI in the future. While the start-ups of Singapore have always been the one to lead, but this time, it is the government of the country that had come forward before any other corporate could and presented its intention to become an AI Superpower in the next decade.
The Current State of AI in Singapore
Singapore has emerged as the start-up hub of the world. Young minds are coming together to develop exciting concepts, models, and businesses that would have been impossible to build in the past. Information technology has played an essential role in this paradigm shift witnessed by Singapore. The advances in technology have been so significant that several major IT companies in the world, like Google and Alibaba, call Singapore an AI giant.
As per McKinsey, AI can help in automating half of the work that is right now done by their employees in the ASEAN region, which would save them US$900 billion. The firm believes that AI is the way ahead for them, and Singapore will play a significant role in its target. As per their readiness report, Singapore is the most AI-ready country in the world, followed by China and Dubai. But McKinsey is not the only one eyeing the island nation. In another study conducted by Salesforce, Singapore topped the list of Asian countries that could drive the AI revolution in Asia, surpassing the giants like China and India. What adds more credibility to the study conducted by Salesforce is the fact that the IT giant took into consideration a broad spectrum of measures. The company measured the infrastructure available to implement AI, cost of scouting talent, and even awareness among the countrymen to write down the results. Singapore emerged as the winner due to the country’s pro-active and progressive approach to the new technologies.
What Makes Singapore An Attractive AI Destination?
Singapore has its horses straight in more than one department, and that is why it has attracted huge investments. Singapore has built an ecosystem and promotes progress and innovation. Singaporean policies are relaxed, taxes are simple, and official authorities are supportive of the SME sector. The country has robust data protection laws, and their cybersecurity is top-notch.
Apart from being the tech-savvy country, the policies of the state related to start-ups and the pledge by the Singaporean government to invest 110 million USD in artificial Intelligence favor the rise in its popularity among its peers who are struggling in leaving an impression.
Singapore started working on creating an ecosystem for AI back in 2016. The government had then partnered with Microsoft to explore possibilities of a Chatbot for public service offerings. The government invested USD 2.82 billion in creating the infrastructure which would not only assist the existing IT start-ups, but would also help the upcoming products to flourish, and go-live as quickly as possible.
The government also issued guidelines for AI development and governance in the country (first in Asia) at Davos, 2019. Two new initiatives geared at improving the use of AI to enhance the lives of people at home and office got introduced, namely: AI4E (AI for everyone) and AI4I (AI for industries). In totality, the country has prepared itself for the intelligent machines, and the companies now have a legal framework to understand the limits and freedom that can give to the AI.
The Road Ahead
Singapore is not just booming with investment from big companies like Google and Adatos; it fills with start-ups in various fields of work that are helping Singapore in improving share to the growth of AI. Several SMEs that have AI at their core have received impressive funding from around the world to enhance the product further, and also expand operations. For example, Trax, a retail inventory management application, has a total funding of US$286.7 million, which has helped it in developing other parts of the world.
Asia Pacific is rapidly evolving. Several smart cities are coming up with infrastructure ready to deploy AI applications and frameworks in a jiffy. Indonesia can present some amount of competition, Singapore has not felt any jitter until now. However, with neighboring China and India, slowly setting up hotbeds for investment, Singapore can face difficult times if it does not pick up on the pace of execution of AI. However, with the country’s understanding of technology and engineering and the ability to make decisions quickly, Singaporean SMEs can be sure that their interests will always be protected.