Here's why AI will find new guidance in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock

Here’s why AI will find new guidance in Singapore. Source: Shutterstock

Is Singapore’s new AI governance framework practical?

COMPANIES and academia often debate about the real-world implications of progressing artificial intelligence (AI) to a stage where it is all powerful and truly intelligent.

While some, including global business leader Elon Musk, believe that AI is extremely dangerous — more than nuclear weapons even, others believe that an all-encompassing AI system is inevitable and will support and improve human life in many ways.

At the recent event at Davos, the Singapore government showed faith in the companies that work with AI and published a new AI governance framework that it believes will help guide them drive ethical and responsible AI deployments.

While it is currently a “live document” open for public consultation, pilot adoption, and feedback, it is intended to be agile in evolving with the fast-paced changes in a Digital Economy and expected to continue to develop alongside adoptees use.

“The key point to note is that this is a framework. It is not a rule or a regulation. This is basically an outcome from industry consultation that we have had,” explained Singapore Minister for Communications and Information S Iswaran.

“So in a way, the industry has already helped shape this, and that they should already find most of the Model Framework – if not all of it – well within the bounds of what they have already thought are important areas for them to focus on.”

The basic idea behind the framework is to ensure that companies are able to explain to customers, transparently and fairly, any and all decisions made by or with the assistance of AI, and make sure that their AI solutions are human-centric.

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) believes that as a result of the new framework, trust in and understanding of AI will be enhanced, and acceptance of how AI-related decisions are made for the benefit of users will rise.

The framework maps out the key ethical principles and practices that apply to common AI deployment processes in four areas:

  • Internal governance structures and measures
  • Risk management in autonomous decision-making
  • Operations management
  • Customer relationship management

“The Model Framework provides practical guidance to organizations deploying AI at scale to do so with good internal governance and in an ethical manner,” said Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data Chairman VK Rajah SC.

“The Advisory Council encourages businesses to pilot the Model Framework and provide feedback from their implementation experience. We look forward to reviewing the comments from the public consultation and proposing improvements in the next edition.”

According to Iswaran, the new model framework is based on the feedback that the government and ministry currently get in terms of governance of AI deployments — and hence, believe it will help and support the ambitions of companies when it comes to AI.

“I do not think that the industry will be deterred from doing things out of Singapore because of this. On the contrary, I would say that 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,” explained Iswaran.