Is Singapore ready for Artificial Intelligence (AI)?

Information & Communications Technology and Media  |  28 Apr 2023

Global digital innovation is facing pressures due to the sudden increase in technologies adoption during and post-COVID-19. At the opening of the Singapore Week of Innovation and Technology 2022, Deputy Prime Minister Heng Sweet Keat pointed out that as much as digital transformation has been instrumental in steering the world out of the pandemic, it needs to be harnessed even more effectively to strengthen the global digital innovation movement. This includes prioritising the development of human capital to address talent shortfalls and making technology adoption more pervasive to benefit a greater number of people. 

READ MORE: What is Artificial Intelligence?


What is the current state of AI adoption?

According to recent IDC research, worldwide spending on artificial intelligence (AI) is forecast to reach $154 billion this year and is expected to surpass $300 billion in 2026 as businesses across various sectors continue to recognize the potential of AI in improving efficiency, decision-making, and customer experiences.  

While the United States remains the largest market for AI systems, accounting for over half of the global spending, spending on AI in Asia Pacific is also on the rise. Spending in Asia Pacific on AI is expected to reach $49.2 billion in 2026, with a compound annual growth rate (CAGR) of 24.5% from 2021 to 2026, according to IDC’s latest Worldwide Artificial Intelligence Spending Guide. The increasing availability of pre-trained large models and multi-modal technologies will further drive the adoption of AI for businesses on a large scale, making it an integral part of the entire production process. 

READ MORE: Is digital innovation the future for businesses?


Examples of advancing AI for industries in Singapore

Singapore’s AI implementation efforts stretches back for years. Singapore started exploring how to use chatbots in public services with Microsoft in 2016. In 2019, the government created a set of guidelines called AI Verify, which is the first ethical AI guideline in Asia. Today, AI in business is increasingly common as Singapore has a strong system for creating and using AI in all key industries. Here are some examples of AI uses.


AI in education

Singapore is using AI as a pedagogy, rather than simply a technological tool in education. Through research centres such as the AI Centre for Educational Technologies (AICET), the Ministry of Education is launching AI projects to improve the education system. One example is the designing of personalised learning plans to support each student’s learning behaviours and preferences. Associate Professor Ben Leong of AICET noted this as “[giving] content at the right place, so that [the students] learn the best at the right pace.”


AI in healthcare

The nation is leveraging AI to combat concerns about its ageing population and lack of healthcare manpower. For example, Singapore is focusing on fall prevention for seniors, a key risk in the country. Each year, around 8,000 Singaporean seniors aged 65 and above are admitted to hospitals because of falls, according to SATA CommHealth. By developing a screening platform using AI to tailor targeted interventions specific to each senior, such incidents can be prevented. The goal is to provide better outcomes for seniors and more efficiently allocate resources, which is essential for Singapore as it faces an ageing population and decreasing healthcare personnel.


AI in manufacturing

The Lion city is also embracing the use of AI in manufacturing to change traditional processes and hiring practices, to improve business productivity. As manufacturers look towards using AI to repair complex machinery, this may lead to increased worker safety and allows for the elimination of repetitive, dirty, or dangerous tasks. The discovery of the new worker and business outcomes that would otherwise remain undiscovered, will create new job opportunities in fringe sectors such as logistics and engineering. This does not only support the economy but also transforms hiring practices in an attempt to address the limited skillsets in the local workforce.

READ MORE: Singapore’s logistics industry is changing to build long-term resilience


Yes, Singapore is ready for AI

The short answer is yes! The increasing adoption of AI globally, coupled with already established efforts in implementing and using AI for industries, bodes well for Singapore’s economic growth. As spending on AI in Asia Pacific is expected to grow rapidly, Singapore’s strong system for using AI in all key industries, from healthcare to education and manufacturing, positions itself as a leader in AI adoption and growth. To continue riding on the AI growth wave, companies in Singapore should focus on expanding their usage of AI in business, and tap into other social and economic opportunities such as skills training and development.

Technology is by no way a means to an end. It is imperative to align the implementation of AI in business processes with your business goals. However, Singapore businesses have an edge over their regional counterparts. The nation is ahead of its neighbours in ensuring that AI uses align with the country’s values and needs. Singapore was also cognisant of the need for proper ecosystems for AI uses to take root and flourish, demonstrated by the plans to develop the Punggol Digital District as well as the growth in the number of tech incubators and accelerators.

With business innovation as a key approach, Singapore can harness the full potential of AI to improve the lives of its people and drive the country’s economic growth forward.


This article was originally contributed by Moses Ku, Senior Manager (Engagement), IndSights Research in 2019, and has been revised and updated to reflect recent developments in artificial intelligence.

Register your interest to participate in upcoming research & polls