Making widespread, trustworthy AI adoption a reality in line with Singapore's Budget 2024

By Lim Hsin Yin

The goal to become a global leader in innovation and AI, if realised, will have a significant impact on Singapore's future success. 

As demonstrated by the worldwide disruption caused by generative AI, staying up-to-date with the latest innovations is crucial in gaining and maintaining a competitive edge. 

To ensure that the country's workforce, infrastructure, and regulatory frameworks are ready, the government must continue to invest in forward-looking policies.

Advancing Singapore's AI goals through Budget 2024

Budget 2024 provides the government with multiple opportunities to support and accelerate the widespread adoption of AI by businesses and other organisations. 

For example, the country needs to attract technical talent by incentivising workforce education pathways. Whilst some employees are already utilising generative AI tools such as ChatGPT at an individual level, these are generative AI applications which are already meant for end users. 

To truly unlock AI’s full potential, businesses need to come up with their own “ChatGPT” innovation, which requires competencies involving software development, data science, and data engineering, which need to be transmitted on a wider scale.

Meanwhile, investing in education for non-experts to rope them into model design and creation will deliver more inclusive AI and push back against biases. At the same time, education can also allay fears about job displacement and other forms of misuse that impact the general public. 

Singapore can also lower economic barriers to AI adoption through financial incentives such as tax breaks and grants for businesses that responsibly employ generative AI technologies. 

For example, a version of the Productivity Solutions Grant (PSG) that is focused on small and medium enterprises (SMEs) that want to explore generative AI use cases can give such businesses the flexibility to experiment.

Amidst growing uncertainties and a weaker economic outlook, relying solely on regulatory instruments to drive responsible AI adoption will not be enough. 

Instead, public spending must incentivise organisations to embrace the necessary guardrails that prioritise innovation through transparency, accountability, and data security. Meanwhile, allocations can also be targeted at helping businesses cope with increased wage costs so that they can still leverage AI.

A comprehensive approach is needed, where people, processes, and technology work together to embed trustworthy AI principles throughout the AI lifecycle. Collaboration between industry and the government, especially by identifying new industry-specific use cases, is essential in accelerating AI adoption.

The Veritas initiative is part of Singapore's National AI Strategy, which aims to provide financial institutions with a verifiable way to incorporate the principles of Fairness, Ethics, Accountability, and Transparency (FEAT).

Sustaining Singapore's position as a technological hub

Singapore has displayed remarkable foresight vis-a-vis digital technologies, leading to a transformation of business processes, improved public service delivery, and enhanced quality of life in general. These outcomes have put the country in an excellent position to take advantage of developments in AI before its neighbours and even most of the world. Sustaining this position requires Budget 2024 to take the same future-forward stance, with a forceful and canny approach to investment key to creating a vibrant local AI ecosystem.

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