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Singapore to set up council on ethical use of AI, data

SINGAPORE is setting up an advisory council on the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI) and data, Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran said on Tuesday.

To support the work of the council, Singapore will set up a five-year research programme on the governance of AI and data use. The Singapore Management University will helm the programme, for which it has been awarded a research grant of S$4.5 million from the National Research Foundation and Infocomm Media Development Authority.

"Innovative technologies bring economic and societal benefits, as well as attendant ethical issues," Mr Iswaran said. "Thus, good regulation is needed to enable innovation by building public trust."

The development and adoption of AI solutions is also a “journey that private enterprises and consumers must walk together with the government”, he said.

Former attorney-general and Senior Counsel V K Rajah has been appointed as the inaugural chairman of the council, which will also include representatives from technology companies, users of AI, and those who can “provide consumers’ and societal perspectives”, Mr Iswaran said.

The Council will assist the government to develop ethics standards and reference governance frameworks, as well as issue advisory guidelines, practical guidance and codes of practice for voluntary adoption by businesses.

Mr Iswaran noted that the Personal Data Protection Act is being reviewed to see how the framework can be enhanced for enterprises to collect and use personal data.

"There must be a balance by ensuring that robust accountability measures are put in place to safeguard the interests of individuals" where collection, use and disclosure of personal data are allowed," he said.

The Minister also declared Singapore’s commitment to host global conferences such as innovfest unbound, at which he was speaking on Tuesday. The conference, which was jointly organised by Unbound and NUS Enterprise, the entrepreneurial arm of the National University of Singapore, was set to see more than 12,000 participants from more than 100 countries, with more than 350 innovation and startup exhibits.