November 14, 2019updated 15 Nov 2019 4:16pm

Europe urged to follow Singapore on AI strategy

By Lucy Ingham

An exhaustive new AI strategy unveiled by the Singapore government should serve as inspiration governments in Europe, according to experts.

Unveiled at Singapore Fintech Festival by the country’s deputy prime minister, the strategy is designed to embed artificial intelligence (AI) across the economy, bringing benefits for social and healthcare, logistics, border management and beyond.

The strategy will include plans to use AI to mark school assignments, provide chatbots for municipal housing, automate parts of the immigration process and assist with the management of chronic diseases.

By developing a plan that spans its entire economy, the Singapore government hopes to build partnerships with researchers and industry to enhance AI capabilities in the country and develop a skilled workforce to make its plans possible.

“Singapore is becoming a leader in AI, with its increased focus and investments across its burgeoning AI ecosystem which is supported by its sound governance and regulatory frameworks,” Jean Francois Gagné, co-founder and CEO of Element AI, told Computer Weekly.

Why Singapore’s AI strategy should be a model for Europe

With AI having the potential to transform almost every industry, Singapore’s new strategy offers a model for how the technology can be effectively integrated into mature economies, and experts believe governments in Europe should be taking notice.

“Singapore’s AI strategy is impressive in that it outlines a number of tangible goals for how the country will benefit from AI,” said Kye Andersson, AI Expert at Peltarion and Delegate of the Swedish AI Council.

“This kind of boldness and culture of accountability is what Europe is missing – if it wants its people and businesses to gain from AI in the same way, European countries need to stop setting ‘fluffy’ goals, like trying to be the ‘best’ at AI, or to ‘become an AI leader’, and start to get specific.

“Without specific goals, it’s extremely hard to create a plan, and execute it quickly to create progress. It often leads to simply one more study, or one more committee.”

This focus on specific, tangible applications of AI and how they can be meaningfully applied has, he said, already found success in other parts of the world, and Europe should be taking notice.

“Other countries are already leading the way – for instance, Japan has 25 AI ‘moonshot goals’, such as automating all construction jobs by 2040, while China has set concrete AI goals for more than 600 subsets for industries by 2025,” he said.

“I am not proposing that we simply replicate China’s approach (or the US for that matter), but we need to apply a more scientific, efficient approach; looking at best practices from other countries and being open to study and learn from others, and choose what is right for us in Europe. Currently we do not have any AI strategy in Europe with the same clarity as Singapore’s.”

Read more: Why Brexiteer James Dyson chose Singapore for EV manufacturing

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