The Singapore government will invest more than $$1 billion ($743 million) over the next five years to support the development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in the city state, its Deputy Prime Minister Lawrence Wong said on Friday.

According to him, Singapore is already recognised as a serious player in AI development.

“We aim to go further – to build new peaks of excellence, and crowd in private sector resources along the way. We have set out the plans to do so in the National AI Strategy 2.0,” he said.

“To support this strategy and further catalyse AI activities, I will invest more than $1 billion over the next five years into AI compute, talent, and industry development,” Wong, who is also the Minister for Finance, said as he delivered Singapore’s FY2024 Budget Statement.

Part of the investment will be used to ensure that Singapore can secure access to the advanced chips that are so crucial to AI development and deployment, he said.

“We will also work with leading companies in Singapore and around the world to set up their AI Centers of Excellence here. We want these Centers to spur industry collaboration and innovation, and drive greater value creation across the entire economy,” he added.

“In tandem, I will allocate additional resources to catalyse investments in upgrading our Nationwide Broadband Network,” Wong said.

With the additional investments, the government aims to enable mass market access to broadband speeds of up to 10 Gigabits per second in the second half of this decade.

“This is 10 times faster than the broadband speed in most homes today. This also ensures that our connectivity infrastructure will be able to support technologies like AI and immersive media, as they become more pervasive in the future,” he added.

A new National Cybersecurity Command Center to be established

In today’s world, defence and security apply not just in the physical environment, but also in the digital domain, according to Wong.

Scams, ransomware, data breaches, denial of service, and other cyber threats have become increasingly commonplace. The development and adoption of new technologies such as AI and quantum computing will also change the threat landscape. Cyberattacks will increase in speed, scale, and sophistication.

“We have taken steps to strengthen our cyber defence. We established the Digital and Intelligence Service in the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF). We will establish a new National Cybersecurity Command Center at the Punggol Digital District to better coordinate cyber defence operations, improve collaboration with industry and academia, and spur innovation in cybersecurity,” he said.

This will improve our capabilities to monitor, detect, and coordinate our defences against cyber threats, he added.

Outlook for 2024 to be mixed

For 2024, the outlook is mixed, according to Wong.

Growth in the major economies is expected to be resilient but he said geopolitical risks continue to loom large.

“Wars are raging in Europe and the Middle East. These conflicts can escalate dangerously, leading to
disruptions in global energy markets and supply chains,” he noted.

“Fortunately, there are some upsides. Global inflationary pressures are expected to recede further. This provides some room for the major central banks to adopt more accommodative stances, which may ease financial conditions and support demand,” he said.

According to him, the global electronics industry is projected to recover. This will bolster the growth of many regional economies, including Singapore’s key trading partners.

“Asia continues to be a key driver of global growth, with a wider spread of opportunities – not just in China, but also in India and many parts of Southeast Asia,” he said.

“On the whole, we are cautiously optimistic that 2024 will be a better year. Besides lower inflation, we expect higher GDP growth at 1.0 percent to 3.0 percent,” he said, warning that there is considerable uncertainty in the outlook and the risks are tilted to the downside.

Featured photo credit: Lawrence Wong’s Facebook page

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