Singapore has launched a new National AI Strategy 2.0 (NAIS 2.0) with the aim of addressing current challenges while uplifting the country’s collective economic and social potential over the next three to five years.
The strategy was unveiled at the opening dinner of the inaugural Singapore Conference on AI (SCAI). Deputy prime minister and minister for finance, Lawrence Wong, was in attendance, according to a press release by Smart Nation Singapore.
Under the renewed strategy, the Singapore government has outlined its ambition and commitment to building a trusted and responsible AI ecosystem. It aims to use AI to drive innovation and growth, as well as empower people and businesses to understand and engage with the technology.
Guided by the vision “AI for the public good, for Singapore and the World”, NAIS 2.0 focuses on developing excellence in AI and empowering people to use AI with confidence, discernment, and trust.
The NAIS 2.0 also outlined 15 actions that Singapore will undertake across enablers such as talent, government, and data to support its plan, with progressive reviews to respond to fast-moving developments in AI across domains.
For example, it aims to boost the AI practitioner pool to 15,000 by scaling up AI-specific training programmes, talent pipelines, and remaining open to global tech talent, according to the NAIS 2.0 strategy statement. The AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) will also be redesigned to increase the annual intake of apprentices and expand the number of company attachments available.
It also aims to establish a dedicated physical place for AI in Singapore, creating an intellectual home for the community of AI creators and practitioners in forming new connections and sparking ideas, according to the strategy statement.
This follows the first National AI Strategy that was published in 2019, which plans to deepen the use of AI to transform Singapore’s economy. Under the first strategy, Singapore embarked on national AI projects in areas such as education and healthcare, as well as invested in enablers to strengthen the AI ecosystem. The plan saw AI breakthroughs in the form of new products, capabilities, and interactions.
Going into NAIS 2.0, the government will also look towards managing AI responsibly and sustainably to guard against potential ill effects of misuse of the technology.
In line with the national strategy, Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has partnered with AI Singapore (AISG) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) to launch the National Multimodal LLM Programme (NMLP).
According to a press release by IMDA, the S$70 million initiative seeks to develop Southeast Asia’s first large language model (LLM) that can understand the region’s unique linguistic characteristics and multi-lingual environment.
Funded by the National Research Foundation, Singapore (NRF), the NMLP will aim to enhance Singapore’s capabilities in AI research and innovation by building skilled AI talent, fostering a thriving AI industry, and building a trusted AI environment in Singapore.
The initiative will also build on early outcomes of AISG’s recently launched SEA-LION (Southeast Asian Languages in One Network) model, an open-sourced large language model that is more representative of the region’s cultural contexts and linguistic nuances. The project will further develop SEA-LION and extend it into a multimodal speech-text model.
“This national effort underscores Singapore’s commitment to become a global AI hub,” said Ong Chen Hui, assistant chief executive, Biztech Group, IMDA.
She emphasised that language is an essential enabler for collaboration. “By investing in talent and investing in large language AI models for regional languages, we want to foster industry collaboration across borders and drive the next wave of AI innovation in Southeast Asia,” she added.
Regionally, AI collaborations have also been brewing with AI Singapore inking a partnership with four Indonesian entities to develop a ChatGPT-like tool in Bahasa Indonesia on 30 November 2023. The four entities include Indonesia’s National Research and Innovation Agency (BRIN), Collaboration for Research and Innovation in Artificial Intelligence (KORIKA), Glair.ai, and Datasaur.ai.
The collaboration seeks to co-develop an open-source large language model (LLM) tool for Bahasa Indonesia that would be accessible to a wide range of stakeholders. It came as a response to the realisation that while there are many LLMs such as OpenAI’s ChatGPT and Google’s Bard, the majority of research in this domain remains centered on the English language.
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