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Singapore releases framework on ethical use of AI

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Framework released by Minister S. Iswaran at World Economic Forum is first in Asia to provide guidance on using AI

Singapore has released a framework on how artificial intelligence (AI) can be ethically and responsibly used, which businesses in the Republic and elsewhere can adopt as they grapple with issues that have emerged with new technology.

This model framework for AI governance is a "living document" intended to evolve along with the fast-paced changes in a digital economy.

It takes in feedback from the industry, and will be tweaked when it gets more views.

The framework was released by Mr S. Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, at a World Economic Forum (WEF) meeting.

It is the first in Asia to provide detailed and readily implementable guidance to private-sector organisations using AI, said the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA).

AI is, in essence, computer programs or machines that can perform tasks normally requiring human intelligence. They include technology such as speech recognition and decision making.

But questions have been raised about the rapid rise of AI, including what if control and data fall into the wrong hands.

IMDA said two principles underpin Singapore's framework.

One is that decisions made by or with the help of AI are explainable, transparent and fair to consumers. The second is that AI solutions are human-centric.

Mr Iswaran, who spoke to reporters on Tuesday on the sidelines of the WEF, described AI as frontier technology that has the potential to affect many sectors in very profound ways.

Singapore, he said, wants to be prepared in terms of its capabilities, technology investments and regulations.

On this front, the Republic has been working on several AI initiatives, including an Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data chaired by former attorney-general V. K. Rajah.

Mr Iswaran said the framework was being released at the WEF because it is a forum of global industry and government leaders, and a place where Singapore has always had "a certain mindshare" in terms of contributing to cutting-edge development and governance of policies.

It also allows Singapore to invite global feedback on the framework.

As for whether an AI governance model would deter companies from setting up shop in Singapore, Mr Iswaran stressed that it is not a set of prescriptive rules but a framework for companies to use.

He did not think the industry would be deterred.

"On the contrary, we might even be able to come out as one of the jurisdictions with sound approaches to data management and the governance of AI and other frontier technologies. In this case, more companies would want to be associated with us."