Professor Ho Teck Hua, NUS Deputy President (Research and Technology) and Tan Chin Tuan Centennial Professor, will lend his leadership to two new national research efforts in artificial intelligence (AI) and data science, through the AI.SG and the Singapore Data Science Consortium initiatives, which were announced by Minister for Communications and Information Dr Yaacob Ibrahim at the opening of Innovfest unbound on 3 May.
Launched by the National Research Foundation (NRF) Singapore, AI.SG will be a national partnership that draws on Singapore’s AI capabilities from across various sectors to tackle major challenges facing society and industry, encourage adoption and use of AI and machine learning in industry, and invest in the next wave of AI capabilities. NRF is putting in up to $150 million over five years in AI.SG. Operations will be overseen by a Management Committee, co-chaired by Mr Tan Kok Yam, Deputy Secretary, Smart Nation and Digital Government in the Prime Minister’s Office, and Prof Ho, who will also serve as Executive Chairman.
Prof Ho shared that multidisciplinary project teams in AI.SG will work collaboratively across institutional affiliations, disciplines and national borders to investigate different approaches to develop innovative AI technology and solutions. “AI.SG provides unparalleled opportunities for universities and research institutions working in AI. The scale and approach of AI.SG are unique,” he said.
“A key feature of AI.SG will be a series of Grand Challenges that will inspire both the researchers and the end users to tackle major societal challenges that are not only relevant for Singapore but also the global community. AI.SG aspires to develop smart technologies that transform societies,” Prof Ho added.
AI.SG will focus on three application areas, namely finance, healthcare and city management solutions. Examples of national challenges it could potentially address include real-time transport planning system to reduce travel time; intelligent personal health assistant for patients; and personal digital financial advisor for an ageing population.
The new Singapore Data Science Consortium is a collaboration between NRF, NUS, Nanyang Technological University (NTU), Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR), and it will set out to boost partnership between industry and researchers in big data analytics.
Prof Ho will be leading the Consortium to engage companies in six economic sectors: finance, healthcare, customer and retail, manufacturing, logistics, and transport.
Explaining the significance of data science and the timely establishment of the Singapore Data Science Consortium, Prof Ho said, “Data science is not just about capturing a large amount of data quickly and accurately. It is equally important to compute using that data to discover predictive and causal relationships, and create solutions to address real-world challenges.
“This is a tremendous endeavour that requires collaboration and contributions from a diverse community comprising scientists, engineers, domain experts, government agencies and end users. Under the Singapore Data Science Consortium, NUS will work closely with NTU, SMU, A*STAR and industry partners to pioneer innovations in data science and technology that will power Singapore’s Smart Nation vision,” Prof Ho added.
Several NUS research centres with capabilities in AI and data science, such as the NUS Smart Systems Institute, Institute of Operations Research and Analytics, and Institute of Data Science, will be an integral part of the ecosystem supporting these initiatives.