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AI to replace tasks not jobs
May 11, 2018 News AI IBM think ASEAN

Big Community was privileged to be invited to Singapore for IBM’s 2018 Think Asean conference that went on for 2 days from the 8th to the 9th of May at the Resorts World Sentosa Convention Center in Singapore. The packed event that saw industry leaders from all across ASEAN showcased innovations and concepts from IBM on making Artificial Intelligence, Internet of Things, Machine Learning and many other technological advancements a part of business processes and how to become better prepared for the digital era.

Abraham Thomas, Managing Director of IBM Singapore commented during a panel discussion, that Singapore has been on a push for the new frontier technology, focused on AI, blockchain and other technological advancements, that they believe will help to transform companies and countries.

“AI for example has got tremendous opportunity to transform organisations and help them focus on doing new things in new ways that will bring tremendous economic advantage to the organisation and thereby helping citizens and countries,” he shared.

The Singapore government has 3 key thrusts to make sure this is an adoptable and workable direction and to give people a better understanding into how these technologies will be implemented.

The first is to build capabilities into these frontier technologies. Second is to help organisations build capabilities for these frontier technologies and the third is training the people with the skills to be able to participate in the new economy and new areas that are important for organisations, for countries and for themselves.

Lawrence Liew, Director for AI Industry Innovation, for AI Singapore, explained that AI Singapore is the Singapore governments national initiative to promote the use of AI by companies in Singapore and to grow the AI talent pool.

“In AI Singapore there are 3 pillars. The first is in AI research where we fund researches for AI initiatives. The second pillar is AI technology that looks at translating AI technology that is not really ready but will be in 5 to 10 years in solutions that will help Singapore. To drive that initiative, we have a program called ‘Grand Challenges’ which are 5 year projects,” he shared, adding that his pillar is in getting more AI technology into the industry and training talents for the industry.

Meanwhile, Principal and CEO of Temasek Polytechnic, Peter Lam was on hand to share how the education industry in Singapore is dealing with this new age and how they are dealing with educating the new workforce to meet the challenges awaiting them.

He shared that they can see the emergence of AI becoming increasingly important for being relevant in the job market. “AI is offered as an elective for quite few of the diploma courses in IT. But starting from this year onwards, we are offering AI as a compulsory module. We also have adult learners courses. Currently there are 3 AI courses offered to adult learners. One is in Deep learning, another in Machine Learning and the other in Chat bots.”

Abraham then raise the question to the panellists on the public sentiment about AI taking over or replacing people’s jobs.

The Panelists

AI is ready. Are you?

Both, Lawrence and Peter agreed that AI will not be taking over jobs but will be replacing certain tasks that people do. And therefore since those tasks get done more efficiently, the work becomes better and people get to over look those tasks. They believed that people need to prepare themselves for the coming changes and it is not enough to be happy at remaining the status quo.