Singapore unveils new initiatives to build consumer trust in artificial intelligence at WEF – CNA

​​​​​DAVOS: A set of three initiatives, aimed at improving consumer trust on the use and governance of artificial intelligence (AI), were announced by Singapore at the World Economic Forum (WEF) annual meeting on Tuesday (Jan 21). 

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

The initiatives followed the launch of the Model AI Governance Framework by Singapore at last year’s WEF annual meeting as well as the announcement of Singapore’s National AI Strategy in November. 

They were announced by Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran and WEF AI portfolio lead Ms Kay Firth-Butterfield at a press conference in Davos. 

Mr Iswaran is in Davos together with Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong and Senior Minister Tharman Shanmugaratnam for the WEF annual meeting. 

The three initiatives are meant to complement one another. 

The Model AI Governance Framework was updated to include additional considerations such as robustness and reproducibility, and is aimed at making it more relevant and usable.

Developed with input from more than 60 organisations including Google, Microsoft and MasterCard, ISAGO aims to help organisations assess the alignment of their AI governance practices with the Model AI Governance Framework by providing industry examples and practices. 

The compendium of use cases, meanwhile, shows how local and international organisations across different sectors and sizes have implemented or aligned their AI governance practices with the framework.

Companies said they welcomed Singapore’s moves to strengthen governance in the field of AI.

Grab’s chief technology officer for mobility and core technology Mark Porter said the model framework was a “valuable starting point” for companies looking to adopt the 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,” he said. 

DBS Bank’s group head of legal, compliance and secretariat Lam Chee Kin said the framework was a “remarkable initiative” that has helped the bank develop and refine its own approach to AI. 

“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,” said Mr Lam, adding that this is needed to maintain customer trust and stakeholder accountability. 

In an interview, Mr Iswaran told CNA that at least 15 organisations have adopted the model framework. 

The aim of the initiatives is to make the use of AI “human centric” and transparent, he said. 

“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.”

While AI has much potential, there are question marks around its application, said the minister. 

“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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