Mr Peter Ho,
Chairman, Steering Committee, National Supercomputing Centre, Singapore (NSCC),
Mr Gerrit Bahlman,
Chairman, Asia Pacific Advanced Network (APAN),
Ladies and Gentlemen,
1. Thank you very much for inviting me here today to join you at the Supercomputing Asia 2018 conference. The link between High Performance Computing (HPC) and Artificial Intelligence (AI) mirrors very closely our philosophy here in Singapore when we are planning, operating, executing and developing a vision that we are calling Smart Nation – an idea that we put in place while developing underlying infrastructure and capabilities as we imagine the different types of products and services we are going to build, to maximally utilise the capability to take advantage of the digital economy and the sort of disruptions that may take place.
2. We have been investing in supercomputers since 1988. A*STAR’s Institute of High Performance Computing has been facilitating the development of these products and services using supercomputers for more than two decades. The NSCC has also gone beyond its role as a service provider to actively engage in multi-party, multi-stakeholder innovative projects in various institutions. These have generated academic research and economic dividends by providing problem solving and data analysis solutions that would be otherwise impossible. It would have been impossible too, if the early investments, capabilities and infrastructure were not done with a certain leap into the unknown, and if we did not have certain faith in the possibilities that were afforded.
3. As Mr Bahlman had ended off his speech earlier – none of these would have been possible in the absence of the type of people that we have been able to attract to conferences like these, to institutions like the NSCC, and to the industry as a whole. Pioneers, stalwarts, academics, researchers, visionary business-people looking to see what the supercomputing industry can do for us as a society – your hard work and dedication to the efforts and research in the area have made new technologies arrive faster and proliferate deeper into society, while inspiring people to imagine what would be possible. To all our researchers, scientists, professors and many other individuals – thank you, and congratulations on your success. I look forward to many more iterations of conferences like these, with higher bandwidth, connectivity and participation.
4. But each phase of these developmental journeys builds on the success of the previous. We fully understand that whatever we are planning for our Smart Nation journey, we are only able to see the tip of the ice-berg the future of possibilities. While we have to have that long term vision, we need to start small with whatever we currently have. We then need to iterate and going forward, build that type of interoperability and resilience that allow us to grow. We want to take the opportunities afforded by High Performance Computing, AI and our Smart Nation vision, and drive these technologies and opportunities to every corner of our economy and our society. Our society has to be 100% inclusive. The type of transformation that we want to undergo is something that Singapore has undergone several times before in its past, whether it was on marine off-shore, Defense, Independence, Bio-Medical Initiatives, or in our Finance sector. But the transformation has never moved at such speed, and has never needed to move as such speed, as it has to in today’s digital, disruptive economy. With the requirement for speed, we need some very hefty computing capabilities. I am glad that the people at the NSCC are capable of supporting these initiatives.
5. We have launched AI Singapore – a partnership among the Government, research institutions, AI companies and start-ups in May 2017, to develop these Artificial Intelligence products, create tools and most importantly, develop talent. We are not going to develop these outcomes unless we have a strong, deep and long-standing pipeline of talent. Students that are inspired, academics doing research, the professionals that work alongside them, and industry development visions – we need that long, multi-decade horizon of talent development in order to fulfil the vision that AI Singapore is part of.
6. The work that you are doing, and the work that we will be doing, will be explored over these three-days. We will see the Asia Pacific HPC-AI competition provide participants with a platform to showcase their expertise. We will be hearing from the veterans, newcomers, experts, and professionals that you have been hearing about over the various days of the conference. These efforts are testament to what we need in Singapore. Singapore not only needs to be open to the rest of the world, it also needs to be able to attract conferences like these, people like you, and speakers from around the world – people with grand ideas.
7. It is important for us to be that type of economy in the absence of natural resources and geography. It is not enough to be open to investments and people – we also have to be open to all the best ideas in the world and allow these ideas to catalyse and feature in our future. The ability of the various conferences to come together to make today’s Supercomputing Asia Conference – that idea that various efforts have started small and have over time come together to form a larger conference, with larger outreach – is what we strive for. We have to hold on to these ideas, and make sure that we support them institutionally, philosophically, and also from an investment point-of-view. We have started on this journey, but we have a long way to go with many things we need to do to maximally exploit the opportunities afforded to us. But I think we are off to a running start, given that we have been able to do these types of things for many years.
8. I am very encouraged by the many people I have been introduced to so far – the people who have been here from the start (one that I know of has been here for over 10 years but is still finding ways to attract PhD students) and people that still have the vision, passion, enthusiasm, personality for, and the type of personal engagement with these technical subjects. These are the people that we are going to need as we look forward to growing this industry, and growing this opportunity for Singapore and for the world at large. So thank you very much for your strong support and your calling in the scientific community, and thank you very much for inviting me here today. I wish you all the best for an engaging, fruitful and productive conference.
9. Thank you very much.