Ladies and Gentlemen,
Girls and Boys,
1 A very good afternoon. I am pleased to join you today at Splash Awards 2018. Organised by the Singapore Computer Society (SCS), this annual infocomm competition for pre-tertiary and tertiary students is into its 15th edition and aims to spur interest in Infocomm Technology (ICT) among the youth - this time in particular in the area of the Artificial Intelligence (AI).
Demand of AI in today’s economy
2 I understand that SCS had earlier conducted a poll among its Student Chapter members, and that AI had emerged as the number one area of interest among students. This is why AI was chosen as the focus of the Awards for the year.
3 As you know, AI is already present in many aspects of our everyday lives. From Google’s Search Engine and Google Map function, to Apple’s iPhone facial recognition feature, AI is tapped upon each day. Its pervasiveness is a result of its versatility where the application and use of AI can be seen cutting across a vast range of sectors, from retail and F&B to finance. As one of the four frontier technologies the government has identified to power the digital economy, the use of AI looks set to proliferate further.
4 To ensure we are in a good position to ride on the exponential growth of the digital economy, we need to be able to harness the collective intelligence and efforts of the world. That is why the government has launched the Global Innovation Alliance, a network of local and overseas partners to provide a platform for you to gain exposure to innovation hotbeds around the world, and opportunities to collaborate with overseas counterparts. Singapore also announced the ASEAN Smart Cities Network in April this year, a collaborative platform where identified cities across the region would work towards a common goal of smart and sustainable urban development. Together with your passion, efforts and keen minds, we hope to leverage these initiatives to strengthen Singapore’s position as a key global node for technology, innovation and digitalisation efforts.
5 Beyond its current applications, emerging tech such as AI is also a valuable resource when tapped upon to solve social problems or advance the public good. Its predictive machine-learning capabilities are useful in furthering studies in fields such as healthcare and medical research. The goal we are working towards is to find ways to best bring together the different skillsets and expertise in AI, apply these new digital solutions where needed, and spread the benefits, opportunities and efficiencies that AI offers across the different sectors.
Young AI talents in demand
6 This is where young talents like yourself would come in. With AI presenting new possibilities and solutions to challenging business and social problems, industry skilled professionals who are well versed and acquainted with these new technologies such as AI are needed. We need a pipeline of skilled professionals who are both passionate about these new technologies, and curious about finding ways to utilise these solutions in the digital future. We need talents like you.
7 To do so, we have worked with AI Singapore and the Infocomm Media Development Authority or IMDA, to launch the inaugural AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) last November. The programme aims to train young talents with key AI skills such as machine and deep learning, and deploying AI. The 9-month long programme will see you attending in-depth structured AI training courses, with 6 months on-the-job training and mentoring on industry projects, where companies that need AI capabilities are matched with AI talents from Institutes of Higher Learning.
8 We have also worked with IMDA to scale up programmes like the Company-led Training programme, and Tech Immersion and Placement Programme, to help workers develop competencies in frontier technology areas such as cyber security and Internet-of-Things, as well as in AI, to grow a broad range of capabilities in the ICT domain.
Nurturing talents take a joint effort
9 Nurturing our next generation of AI talents and professionals takes a joint effort from all parties – including academic institutions, industries and industry partners, public agencies, and even parents and students themselves. Yes, all of you seated here as well.
10 Schools and academic institutions have a part to play in setting a strong foundation in the skills and competencies required, such as in mathematics and the sciences, as well as nurturing in young minds an interest in innovation. Beyond which, bodies such as the Singapore Computer Society are also integral in the development of an ecosystem that supports the ICT industry. This includes support for enterprises and businesses, as well as growth and career developmental opportunities for students and young minds.
11 Young talents like yourself have a role to play too. Be more curious and take the initiative to learn more about new technologies and how they can impact our lives. Read more, ask more and try more. Read up on new technologies, ask more questions when speaking to experts, and try out existing technologies and tools that are readily available online. When the opportunity comes along, volunteer to participate in immersion programmes and internship opportunities.
12 This is why National Infocomm Competitions, like the Splash Awards, are excellent opportunities for students like yourself to gain exposure to AI and its applications, and challenge you to explore new and creative uses for AI tech.
13 Splash Awards 2018 saw a total of 73 entries from more than 196 students. Earlier this afternoon, I had the opportunity to view some of the entries you have submitted – and I must say I am very heartened by your enthusiasm, and encouraged by your creativity and effort, interest and understanding of AI and its applications. A job well done to all participants!
14 Through a concerted effort from all parties, I believe we are well placed to harness and reap the benefits that digitalisation and emerging tech such as AI can bring. I would like to thank SCS in their good efforts in organising Splash Awards 2018, and encourage all of you here to continue pursuing your interests in the ICT sector.
15 Thank you!