Professor Leong Tze Yun and Mr Vincent Loy, leading authorities on Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Cyber-Security respectively, presented two very different visions of the future: one of hope and great potential and another of uncertainty, unpredictability and danger.
The two experts were sharing the latest developments and issues in their areas of specialisation, as well as their relevance to Singapore, at the National University of Singapore (NUS) Greater Good Series (GGS) event: AI and Cyber-Security: Exploring opportunities and challenges in digital transformation.
Professor Mohan Kankanhalli, Dean, NUS School of Computing (NUS Computing), set the scene by affirming that the area of computing is expanding exponentially and is fundamentally changing our society. NUS Computing, which has established itself as one of the world’s best computing schools and is a leader in many areas of importance, including AI and Cyber-Security, is poised to achieve even greater things, and to change the world.
Prof Leong, Professor, NUS Computing, and Director of AI Technology, AI Singapore, declared that we are currently witnessing an AI revolution. AI has the potential to enhance human capabilities by improving our understanding, our behaviour and our decision making. The challenge lies in knowing how to harness its power and to make it an engine of growth
She sees three major opportunities for Singapore. The first, “Mentors for Life”, is AI that could be assigned to every baby, helping him or her to progress through each developmental stage, and providing support across areas from academics and healthy living to life skills. NUS Computing is working on an AI grammar correction tutor that learns from experience, adapts and improves.
“Guardians of the Smart City” will manage important solutions and services to help keep us healthy, productive and happy in urban living. The capabilities may include controlling electricity usage at home, acting as a navigator for transportation such as ambulances and monitoring the well-being of the elderly. NUS Computing is already doing exciting work in this field, developing AI that can interpret human relationships and infer intentions and emotions from images, videos, and other media.
“Agents in a Connected World” will work in a team to solve complex problems. For example, in the case of dementia care, they will help design home and community care services, as well as analyse health information and risk factors to help diagnoses and design personalized treatment plans. Here as well, NUS Computing is working on projects with AI that support communicating, working and collaborating with humans to achieve a better quality of life.
Mr Vincent Loy, Managing Director, Accenture, stressed that our interconnected world, where physical and virtual worlds come together, is one that we cannot stop. We are currently in the ‘infatuation’ stage of this new world. Cyber-Security is our health warning about the perils of digitisation and interconnectedness.
We need to constantly be cognizant of the fact that we may know who we are connected to, but do we know who these people are connected to? Moreover, it is important to remember that the information is the lifeline of the internet: so someone knows what you are buying and where you are going.
Mr Loy warned the audience that the internet is rife with threats. According to a study by Interpol, 99 per cent of cybercrime escapes without conviction. Accusations of hacking by countries such as China and Russia might make headlines around the world, but these are just the stories that get into the news. And, attacks often come from within organisations, such as the Edward Snowden case.
As far as a cyberattack is concerned, it is a case of when, not if. As such, it is imperative to be prepared. Moreover, cybersecurity is not just an issue for the technology team, it is a priority for the entire organisation. As such, in case of an attack, it is important to have in place a robust policy so that everyone knows what action to take.
As a closing note, Mr Loy cautioned that Singapore’s plans for a Smart Nation will only be realised if we have good cybersecurity.
The talks were followed by a Question and Answer session moderated by Associate Professor Keith B Carter, NUS School of Computing.
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