Lee Wan Sie, Director, Trusted AI and Data, IMDA, Singapore

By Ming En Liew

Women in GovTech Special Report 2021.

How do you use technology/policy to improve citizens’ lives? Tell us about your role or organisation.

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) leads Singapore’s digital transformation by developing a vibrant digital economy and an inclusive digital society. As Architects of Singapore’s Digital Future, we foster growth in infocomm technology (ICT) and media sectors in concert with progressive regulations, and harness frontier technologies. We also develop local talent and digital infrastructure ecosystems to establish Singapore as a digital metropolis.

As the Director of Trusted AI and Data at IMDA, I work on the governance of AI and data to build trust in the technology amongst consumers and businesses. As digital trust and ethical tech is a growing space, I put in place policies and enablers to support the industry’s implementation of responsible AI, and trustworthy use and access to data.

These guardrails help to provide a clearer way forward for companies when they deploy AI and use data. We have made good progress in this area – IMDA is one of the first in the world to publish a practical methodology to organisations on how to implement trustworthy AI, and frameworks to facilitate trusted data sharing.

What was the most impactful project you worked on this year?

This year, we’ve taken our work in AI into the specific direction of helping organisations to achieve greater transparency with AI implementation. My team and I worked on developing the Minimum Viable Product for a Trustworthy AI Testing Framework.

The Framework will help AI developers and owners test and verify the performance (e.g. fairness, robustness, safety) of their AI solutions through a mix of technical tests and process checks. These will help translate AI ethical principles and guidelines into tangible results.

Even as governments debate on whether to regulate AI, the need for capabilities to test and assess the implementation is consistent around the world. I believe organisations that want to show that they are serious about responsible AI will find this particularly useful.

We are looking forward to working with partners – global and domestic companies, other governments – to refine and enhance this.

What is one unexpected learning from 2021?

How to attend multiple online meetings concurrently? Seriously, I learnt that I really miss having physical meetings and interactions – discussions over a cup of coffee or in the corridor, brainstorming in a meeting room.

What’s your favourite memory from the past year?

I am part of the SG Women in Tech team in IMDA, where we work closely with our industry partners to support more women to join, stay and grow in the tech industry. We have put in a lot of effort this year – showcasing Singapore’s 100 Women in Tech, bringing more than 50 companies together to pledge specific actions to support women, and even running a week-long Girls-in-Tech event to encourage more young women to consider tech as a career.

A new group of volunteers also joined the team. It was amazing to see how they embraced the work, hit the ground running, and put in so much initiative and energy to make this movement a success over and above their day jobs!

What’s a tool or technique you’re excited to explore in 2022?

I’d like to look into more technical tools for AI governance. This space is new and constantly growing,and such tools will help enhance the work we are doing in AI testing. For example, the fairness tools help to address unsupervised models, and provide objective ways to explain how the AI system works.

As standards are still emergent in this space, I’d also like to see how we can build up more data from testing, which will help in developing standards for AI governance outcomes.

What are your priorities for 2022?

I’ll be focusing on getting the AI governance testing work off the ground and helping to establish the global norms in this area. I also plan to put in place the enablers for trusted data flows, so that more companies will be able to access the data they need, to build better products and services for consumers. One such area, for example, is implementing a practical pilot for privacy preserving technologies.

Who are the mentors and heroes that inspire you?

My team - they are very committed, do excellent work and have great ideas. I find myself learning a lot of them!

What gets you up in the morning?

Literally, my cats. They make sure I know they are waiting for breakfast ;). On a more serious note, what keeps me going is knowing that the work I do brings real value to Singapore and positively impacts our society.