Seen and heard this week


Seen and heard this week is a weekly column highlighting thought leadership from the NUS community


Director of the Singapore Institute for Neurotechnology at NUS, Provost’s Chair Professor Dean Ho from NUS Pharmacology and NUS Biomedical Engineering was featured in Asian Scientist as part of a series on scientific trailblazers on 25 July. Prof Ho shared his scientific journey, as well as his work in nanodiamonds and personalised medicine. Challenges in personalised medicine include determining what is possible and what the needs are, getting clinicians on board, as well as ensuring patient compliance in both regulatory and behavioural areas, Prof Ho opined. He also encouraged aspiring researchers to appreciate the big picture of their work, understand their own goals and engage directly with people who can help get them there.

Chief of the Smart Health Leadership Centre at NUS Institute of Systems Science Ms Tamsin Greulich-Smith penned an article in GovInsider on 25 July analysing the role of social and digital technology in saving lives. Societal taboos associated with mental illnesses mean that sufferers often prefer the anonymity of digital engagement, wrote Ms Greulich-Smith. There are thus more opportunities to collect data that provides new insights to develop algorithms for predicting suicide. Examples of current technologies include Virtual Reality programmes and apps that act as mental health support and therapists. However, unregulated quality of content and engagement pose challenges and Ms Greulich-Smith believes that more work has to be done to leverage the technologies to save lives.

NUS Institute of South Asian Studies Director Professor C Raja Mohan and Research Assistant Mr Chan Jia Hao contributed an article to The Straits Times on 26 July looking at the role of private companies in the militarisation of artificial intelligence (AI). Some 2,600 tech leaders including Tesla and Google recently pledged to refrain from using their AI to develop “lethal autonomous weapons”. However, voluntary restraint might not be enough due to the inherently competitive nature of the private sector. The writers stress that governments, corporates and the civil society have to work together to address these challenges, adding that campaigns such as the one by Tesla and Google might not prevent militarisation of AI but might help to regulate and control it.

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