Singapore: AI in the Age of Plenitude

Tembusu Conversations is a new series of dialogue seminars presented at Tembusu College each semester. Dialogues with professionals from many sectors aim to familiarise students with technology advancements and financial, geopolitical, and social developments.

Dr Lee Kai-Fu, CEO of a full-service venture capital business and former President of a prominent internet search engine, sees the future of AI and automation as “plenitude” or the condition of being full/complete – as defined in the dictionary.

He outlined five prospective drivers. These five driving forces can function in silos to impact change, or they can come together synergistically, like with automation and energy, which are predicted to cut material and labour costs through autonomous robots.

Automation could make life sciences gadgets smaller, faster, cheaper, and more precise, thus, Dr Lee anticipates quantum computing to mature in the next two decades and power the next wave of innovation.

Recent advances in quantum computing put much of today’s encryption, including Bitcoin, at risk. AI will replace some jobs in the next decade, but it can’t entirely replace humans. This underlined the significance of finding and fostering career talents for intellectually difficult and long-lasting AI professions while embracing technology as a tool and collaborator in one’s work.

Dr Lee is optimistic that numerous prospects await other countries like Singapore. Referring to computer firms having local headquarters. With this, he encouraged young people to pursue careers with them, believing they would teach valuable entrepreneurship lessons.

NUS highlighted that the goal of AI is to create intelligent computers that can simulate human cognitive abilities, such as perceiving, learning, and problem-solving. In the past decade, advancements in machine learning have made artificial intelligence one of the most intriguing and rapidly evolving areas of computer science.

Even though there are still many unanswered concerns, several AI approaches are already mature enough to be deployed and utilised in daily life, such as voice-based assistants, self-driving cars, and automatic photo organising.

Tembusu College is one of four residential colleges located in University Town (UTown), which is an extension of the main Nationa University of Singapore (NUS) campus at Kent Ridge. The institutions, which are the first of their kind in Singapore and Southeast Asia, provide a unique alternative to undergraduate campus life.

Meanwhile, this year, it was revealed that NUS Computing Associate Professor Ilya Sergey and Assistant Professor Trevor Carlson were the recipients of a prestigious research award. The programme grants unlimited funds and promotional credits to academics that explore interdisciplinary research subjects.

Prof Sergey’s research proposal focuses on programme synthesis, while Prof Carlson’s focuses on expediting the Boolean Satisfiability (SAT) problem solution. This year, there were a total of 74 recipients from 51 universities in 17 countries.

Awardees will get access to more than 300 companies’ public datasets and will be able to use AWS artificial intelligence and machine learning services and tools. Under the supervision of a faculty member, the award will additionally support the work of up to two graduate or postdoctoral students for one year.

Prof Sergey’s research proposal integrates formal verification, distributed systems, and programme synthesis, fields in which he and his team have been conducting research over the past few years.

The synthesis job in this context is to automatically construct a model that correctly simulates the behaviour of real system implementation and is phrased in a way that enables automated proof of its qualities of interest, such as the crash resilience of a replication protocol. He said that the team’s method is the first of its type to use programme synthesis techniques to produce formal system specifications with the intention of verifying them.

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