Students ace global case competition

11 October 2018 | General News
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The NUS team comprising Marissa (left) and Samuel won second place for their essay on AI in this year’s edition of The New York Times — APRU Asia Pacific Case Competition

Final year NUS Law undergraduates Samuel Lim and Marissa Chok came in second in the 2018 edition of The New York Times — Association of Pacific Rim Universities (APRU) Asia Pacific Case Competition with their entry on artificial intelligence (AI).

The NUS team’s submission highlighted pertinent issues such as the need for reskilling to deal with job automation, the importance of talent diversity in AI to ensure representation and fairness, and the need for relevant guidelines to ensure responsible and transparent use of user data.

The results were announced at an awards ceremony and panel discussion during the APRU Senior International Leaders’ Meeting hosted at the Hong Kong University of Science and Technology on 9 October. Themed “AI For Good: Advancing Ethical, Transparent, and Equitable Strategies for AI”, the panel discussion addressed key topics such as developing public policies to advance equity in the midst of technological transformation; examining the role of education in addressing challenges arising from the rapid use of AI; and ensuring effective governance of and public accountability for the use of AI.

NUS Vice President (University and Global Relations) Professor Andrew Wee received the award on behalf of the NUS students. Commending the students’ achievement, Prof Wee said, “This award is a recognition of their efforts in proposing sensible and well-supported policy recommendations to address various social challenges that may arise from AI developments.”

There is no doubt that artificial intelligence is great for innovation, but the unchecked use of such technology can create problems, some of which are potentially devastating for certain parts of society. Since AI has serious implications for ethics, economics, law, and policy, we believe that the conversation cannot be limited to those in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields.

Samuel and Marissa said that they were honoured to receive this award. With a strong interest in the relationship between law and extra-legal fields such as technology, both of them aspire to enter legal practice in Intellectual Property Law. Currently, Samuel is pursuing a Masters of Law at New York University (as part of a double degree programme with NUS), specialising in Competition, Innovation and Information Law, while Marissa is attending a course on Information Technology (IT) Law at NUS, which has spurred her to find out more about the complex legal and intellectual property issues posed by IT.

Expressing the need for greater engagement in shaping the future of AI, Marissa said, “There is no doubt that artificial intelligence is great for innovation, but the unchecked use of such technology can create problems, some of which are potentially devastating for certain parts of society. Since AI has serious implications for ethics, economics, law, and policy, we believe that the conversation cannot be limited to those in the STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Mathematics) fields. On the contrary, the conversation needs to include voices from the humanities.”

“Looking forward, we hope that competitions like these will encourage greater discussion in this growing field, especially as Singapore harnesses big data for its Smart Nation initiative,” Samuel added.

This is the second year that APRU is organising the case competition in collaboration with The New York Times, receiving a total of 72 entries from 24 universities in 12 economies. The competition required participants to prepare a brief for policymakers on the best ways to ensure that social goals are built into AI research and development, and that the benefits of AI are shared equitably for sustainable development, demonstrating how risks might be mitigated.

The winners of the competition received a trophy, an article in an online booklet of winning entries and gifts from The New York Times.

By NUS Global Relations