In its quest to drive the adoption of artificial intelligence (AI) across the country, multi-ethnic Singapore needs to take special care navigating its use in some areas, specifically, law enforcement and crime prevention. It should further foster its belief that trust is crucial for citizens to be comfortable with AI, along with the recognition that doing so will require nurturing public trust across different aspects within its society. It must have been at least two decades ago now when I attended a media briefing, during which an executive was demonstrating the company's latest speech recognition software. As most demos went, no matter how much you prepared for it, things would go desperately wrong. Her voice-directed commands often were wrongly executed and several spoken words in every sentence were inaccurately translated into text.
Every country including Singapore will need to decide what it deems to be acceptable uses of artificial intelligence (AI), including whether the use of facial recognition technology in public spaces should be accepted or outlawed. Discussions should seek to balance market opportunities and ensuring ethical use of AI, so such guidelines are usable and easily adopted. Above all, governments should seek to drive public debate and gather feedback so AI regulations would be relevant for their local population, said Ieva Martinkenaite, head of analytics and AI for Telenor Research. The Norwegian telecommunications company applies AI and machine learning models to deliver more personalised customer and targeted sales campaigns, achieve better operational efficiencies, and optimise its network resources. For instance, the technology helps identify customer usage patterns in different locations and this data is tapped to reduce or power off antennas where usage is low.
As Singapore ramps up efforts to drive digitalisation across the local community, its government also will need to transform the way it governs its population, which increasingly will access more information and demand answers as more of their personal data goes online. A change in mindset will be necessary to ensure policies remain relevant and truly adapted to a new digital economy as well as digital population. Singapore over the past several years has invested significant resources towards becoming a digital economy, rolling out an ambitious smart nation roadmap, driving the adoption of emerging technologies, and overhauling its own ICT infrastructure. With the global pandemic now adding new impetus to digital transformation, the government has made a concerted effort to drive digital adoption deeper into the business community and local population. Country's government is missing the point with its use of correction directives, when it should be looking more closely at how the legislation can be used to address bigger security threats as it prepares for its first elections since the emergence of technology, such as deepfake, and increased online interference.
From job killer to killer robot, artificial intelligence (AI) increasingly has come under the spotlight for its potentially adverse impact on human lives. Singapore, however, is advocating the need to hold off judgement whilst the technology continues to evolve and focus instead on building trust. Whilst not a new concept, AI in recent years had been garnering significant interest due to the convergence of three key factors, said S. Iswaran, Singapore's Minister for Communications and Information and Minister-in-charge of Trade Relations. First was the ability now to amass large volumes of data, organise, and use it. Computing power in large quantities also had become more available and at lower costs.
Facial recognition technology significantly reduces the amount of time it takes to identify people or objects in photos and video. This makes it a powerful tool for business purposes, but just as importantly, for law enforcement and government agencies to catch criminals, prevent crime, and find missing people. We've already seen the technology used to prevent human trafficking, reunite missing children with their parents, improve the physical security of a facility by automating access, and moderate offensive and illegal imagery posted online for removal. Our communities are safer and better equipped to help in emergencies when we have the latest technology, including facial recognition technology, in our toolkit. In recent months, concerns have been raised about how facial recognition could be used to discriminate and violate civil rights.