Singapore introduces 3 new initiatives to bolster AI governance and consumer trust

On Tuesday (21 Jan), Singapore announced at the annual 50th World Economic Forum (WEF) in Davos, Switzerland a set of three initiatives whose purpose is to boost consumer trust on the governance and use of artificial intelligence (AI).

Based on the second edition of the Model AI Governance Framework and a compendium of use cases, the initiatives are an Implementation and Self-Assessment Guide for Organisations (ISAGO).

Last November, Singapore also launched the Model AI Governance Framework and announced the National AI Strategy at the WEF.

The Prime Minister was accompanied by Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam and S Iswaran, the Minister for Communications and Information to the WEF.

The three new complementary initiatives were announced by Kay Firth-Butterfield, the WEF AI portfolio lead and Mr Iswaran.

The updated Model AI Governance Framework will incorporate extra considerations such as reproducibility and robustness, as well as enhancing its usability and relevance.

With input from more than 60 organisations encompassing ISAGO, Google, MasterCard and Microsoft, this development provides industry examples and practices which will ultimately assist organisations assess the alignment of their AI governance practices with the Model AI Governance Framework.

The compendium of use cases describe how the alignment and implementation of AI governance practices with the framework across different sizes and sectors have been done by international and local organisations.

Singapore’s moves to bolster governance in the field of AI have been welcomed by companies.

The model framework is a “valuable starting point” for firms seeking to adopt the technology, according to Mark Porter, Grab’s chief technology officer for mobility and core technology: “We strongly believe that AI adoption and development must be supported with a sound governance framework so that it can contribute to building a future that is smarter, safer and more inclusive.”

The framework is also a “remarkable initiative” which has aided the bank to refine and develop its own approach to AI, DBS Bank’s group head of legal, compliance and secretariat Lam Chee Kin remarked.

Mr Lam further added that “by using the thinking contemplated in the framework, we can identify tough questions around ethics and supervision of AI, and from the answers we can build better processes,” which is important in maintaining stakeholder accountability and customer trust.

Not less than 15 organisations have adopted the model framework, according to Mr Iswaran when he spoke to Channel News Asia (CNA).

He commented that the goal of the initiatives is to make the use of AI transparent and “human centric”: “The objective really is to translate these ethical principles – that it must be human-centric and responsible – and translate that into practical guidelines so that companies who want to adopt AI technologies have a kind of guidebook on how they can go about doing this whilst maintaining the trust of their clients and their customers.”

There are many question marks surrounding the application of AI despite its high potential, Mr Iawaran remarked.

“The more we are able to work with partners around the world to engender trust in this AI technology, the more we are able to utilise its full potential, and benefit our people and our businesses.”

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