Singapore to tripe its AI talent pool and build AI site

Singapore is embarking on an ambitious journey outlined in the National AI Strategy (NAIS) 2.0. The Lion City is aiming to increase its AI talent pool and create an “iconic” site to foster innovation in the field.

The strategy, released by the government on 4 December, introduces a multi-pronged approach to elevate Singapore’s standing as a global leader in artificial intelligence.

The foundation of this strategy involves a targeted effort to expand the AI talent base within the country.

Over the next three to five years, Singapore aims to triple its current AI practitioners, setting a target of 15,000 professionals.

To achieve this, initiatives like the AI Apprenticeship Programme will undergo a redesign and expansion, working in tandem with industry AI product development teams to facilitate company attachments.

Acknowledging the pivotal role of AI in reshaping industries, the government plans to promote AI adoption across enterprises while concurrently implementing tailored training programs to upskill the workforce. This commitment aligns with Singapore’s broader vision of positioning itself as a trailblazer in key AI domains, including manufacturing, financial services, transport, logistics, healthcare, education, and public service delivery.

The government also seeks to attract global AI talent, establishing a dedicated team to engage and anchor top-tier AI creators within the local ecosystem. This initiative dovetails into plans for a specialised site, yet to be disclosed, envisioned as a hub for AI creators and users to converge and cultivate a closely-knit knowledge community crucial for innovation.

Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong, speaking at the NAIS 2.0 launch, highlighted the transformative potential of AI, foreseeing a future where AI systems possess human-like cognitive abilities.

“Up to now, AI has been mainly about pattern recognition,” he shared.

“But in time to come, we will have AI systems with agency and with transactional abilities. We will have machines with human-like cognitive abilities and the capacity for self-awareness and independent decision-making.”

NAIS 2.0 signifies a shift in Singapore’s AI strategy, transitioning from singular flagship projects to a comprehensive systems approach.

The strategy is the result of consultations with over 300 local and international experts and organisations, outlining 15 key actions across various domains to make way for AI excellence and empower businesses and individuals to embrace AI technologies confidently.

The strategic roadmap also acknowledges concerns surrounding AI’s impact on employment and plans to invest significantly in adult education and training to equip the workforce with the necessary skills to leverage AI effectively.

This aims to cultivate a thriving AI industry, improving Singapore’s current landscape that is home to over 80 active AI researchers, 150 AI research and development teams, and 1,100 AI startups.

Additionally, the government pledges to enhance the infrastructure for AI value creation, focusing on high-performance computing and facilitating access to data while ensuring environmental sustainability. Plans include allocating carbon budgets for data centres and fostering net-zero data centres powered by renewable energy.

Recognizing the challenges and risks associated with AI, the Lion City aims for a balanced regulatory approach, avoiding stifling innovation while implementing necessary guardrails through regular reviews of AI governance frameworks. The strategy also emphasises the importance of international partnerships to set global AI standards, foster research collaborations, and support multilateral platforms.

“Ideally, governance for AI ought to be global – because AI is decentralised and everywhere,” said Wong.

The launch of NAIS 2.0 coincides with the inaugural Singapore Conference on AI (SCAI), where local and overseas experts convene to address critical AI-related questions.

Over three days, delegates aim to identify solutions that promote the global good through AI development and deployment. Their insights will be unveiled at a subsequent press conference.

Singapore’s commitment to advancing AI through NAIS 2.0 reaffirms its dedication to harnessing technology for societal progress while positioning itself as a frontrunner in the global AI landscape.

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