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  • Lawrence Ng

Singapore Conferred AI Leader Title at Intel AI Summit

Singapore has been named a leader in Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the Asia Pacific region, according to IDC's Asia/Pacific AI Maturity Study 2024, commissioned by Intel. The study, which focused on key regions such as Indonesia, Malaysia, India, Taiwan, Australia, Japan, South Korea, and Singapore, found that Singapore is the only economy surveyed to reach the "AI Leader" stage, scoring higher than the regional average in enterprise, government, and social-economic dimensions.

Jennifer Baile of Intel speaking at Intel AI Summit Singapore
Jennifer Baile, VP & GM, Sales & Marketing SEA & ANZ, Intel

Singapore's strategic position as a regional hub, combined with its burgeoning AI startup ecosystem, renowned academic institutions, and strong government support, has catapulted the country to the forefront of regional AI competition and innovation. The survey also identified the banking, financial services, and insurance (BFSI) sector and the retail industry as major drivers of AI adoption and spending in Singapore.

Intel Summit Singapore fireside chat
Alexis Crowell of Intel, Manoj Prasanna Kumar of Singtel, Laurence Liew of AI Singapore & Dr Chris Marshall of IDC

Laurence Liew, Director for AI Innovation at AI Singapore, a national AI programme established to improve Singapore's AI capabilities in order to power the country's future digital economy, discussed some of the projects under its initiatives. Around 200 AI trial projects have been carried out with Singaporean enterprises, with generative AI and big language models accounting for around half of them recently. Liew gave examples of AI being used at the edge, such as an embedded device aboard a ship in the North Sea that scans the area in front of it to recognise vessels and avoid collisions. Because this gadget has restricted internet connectivity, the AI model is executed locally on the integrated hardware. Another example is recognising proper motorbike movement for licensing tests, in which an AI system analyses video to determine whether the motorcycle went correctly across a plank during the test.

He also gives an example of how he used generative AI to quickly author his upcoming book by letting the AI function as a copywriter, asking questions based on his inputs, and such examples are just a few of the many ways that small businesses can adopt AI. Those with digitised data, in particular, will have an excellent opportunity to leverage it with Large Language Models to launch new business lines. AI Singapore's experience has already resulted in demands from other countries to share its frameworks and initiatives.

Alexis Crowell, Vice President and Chief Technology Officer, Intel Asia Pacific and Japan, also provided several examples of how AI are being applied in various sectors. One powerful example she provided was in healthcare, which she described as "incredibly personal" given her own family's experience with cancer diagnosis. AI may assist overcome problems in uncommon illness diagnosis by analysing vast datasets and discovering patterns that human physicians may overlook.

Dr Chris Marshall on stage at Intel AI Summit Singapore
Dr Chris Marshall, VP, AI and Industry Research, IDC

The AI industry is rapidly evolving, with new breakthroughs and advancements coming at a breakneck pace. Dr. Chris Marshall, Vice President of Analytics at IDC, compared the AI maturity research they conducted to the "IT maturity study" from the 1990s: it is useful, but the game is still in its early stages. While Singapore leads the area in AI use and maturity, nations with significant growth and population, such as Indonesia, Thailand, Vietnam, and Malaysia, may catch up. However, these countries may encounter challenges in reaching the full promise of AI, with one important hurdle being the return on investment (ROI), particularly for those focused on automation. Lower labour costs may make the return on investment for process automation less appealing than in more developed countries. Furthermore, strong incumbents in particular industries may make it difficult to demonstrate truly game-changing AI applications. To ensure the success of AI adoption, these governments must find ways to promote innovation, talent development, and an open environment.

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