Singapore sets up AI ethics council

By Chia Jie Lin

Panel of users and tech companies to advise government on the ethics of developing and using artificial intelligence.

Image: Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran/Facebook

Singapore has set up a council to advise its government on developing and using artificial intelligence.

“The advisory council will assist the Government to develop ethics standards and reference governance frameworks, issue advisory guidelines, practical guidance and codes of practice for voluntary adoption by businesses,” said Minister for Communications and Information S. Iswaran at the opening ceremony of the Innovfest Unbound conference yesterday.

The council, being set up by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), will work with the ethics boards of businesses. It also seeks to educate the private capital community to include ethics considerations in their AI-related investment decisions.

The council will consist of AI users, representatives from technology companies, and others who will provide social and consumer perspectives. It is being headed by former Attorney-General V.K. Rajah.

IMDA is also setting up a five-year research programme on the governance of AI and data to support the work of the council. The program looks to “advance discourse in ethical, legal, policy and governance issues arising from AI and data use”, according to Minister Iswaran.

The research is being led by Singapore Management University (SMU), which will organise forums to build greater awareness on artificial intelligence, and clarify the impact of policy and regulatory issues on AI. The university will also publish research papers on AI.

At the same time, the country’s Personal Data Protection Commission is setting up principles to ensure that decisions made with help from AI can be explained, transparent and fair. The commission wants to create an “evolving document” to guide government and businesses in using AI.

As a start, the Monetary Authority of Singapore will use this document to guide its discussions on AI in the financial sector.