Rotifers are a small type of plankton, which can be as small as two-widths of a human hair. Identifying these tiny creatures is a key process in food production, but not an easy task. Thankfully, AI can help.

This is just one of the many innovative uses for AI, which alongside blockchain technology, are making an impact across society. Temasek International, a global investment company headquartered in Singapore, is developing its own ventures in this space.

Chia Song Hwee, Deputy Chief Executive Officer at Temasek International, discusses the innovative uses of AI and blockchain across food production, healthcare and finance.

Innovative uses of AI

AI can help businesses and societies, ultimately “creating a better world for all of us”, Chia says. He highlights the work of Aicadium, a tech company founded by Temasek, that is developing cutting edge uses of AI.

For example, fish farmers can use AI to identify the volume of rotifers in their water tanks by uploading images onto a website. Fish larvae feed on rotifers, so this algorithm helps farmers adjust the amount of food their fish need, Aicadium explained.

AI can benefit financial services as well. Aicadium is developing an AI tool to help identify greenwashing and assess potential sustainability investments, Chia says. This will support financial institutions under Singapore’s National AI strategy, according to the Monetary Authority of Singapore.

Algorithms are great at taking over routine tasks, which would free up employees to focus on higher-value work. A Temasek report found that the most common use of AI in banks and insurance companies is extracting data from documents, such as salary statements or claims reports, he adds.

New pathways with blockchain

Blockchain is another technology that is widely benefitting society, Chia identifies. Affinidi, one of Temasek’s ventures, used blockchain to verify vaccine certificates and Covid-19 tests for cross-border travel and vaccine certification.

Its tool recognises Covid documents from over 70 countries, according to the Straits Times. Authorities don’t have to do manual checks or use multiple different tools for verification, Chia highlights.

The uses for blockchain verification go beyond post-pandemic leisure travel. Similar tech could help authenticate certificates for operating technical equipment, or other kinds of immunisation records such as for malaria or hepatitis, GovInsider wrote.

Temasek also helped develop a blockchain tool for financial transactions, enabling faster and more efficient transfers. Banks can sign up to this platform to have money move instantly between accounts around the world.

Traditionally, international transfers work their way through a number of banks before reaching the intended account, which delays the process, according to the DBS bank website. The blockchain platform offers a faster and more direct way for banks to transact.

Chia Song Hwee, Deputy Chief Executive Officer, Temasek International

The future of work 

Aicadium and Affindi are just some examples of Temasek’s ventures in the AI and blockchain space. Temasek decided to form its own companies in the sector as “a lot of the ideas we had were not already in the market”, Chia explains.

Temasek sees the development of AI and blockchain ventures as a long term project. As compared to investing in external businesses, developing its own companies enables Temasek to be more patient as profitability grows over time, he shares.

Emerging tech will, after all, define the future of work. The World Economic Forum estimates that new tech will create 97 million new jobs, but will displace 85 million jobs. Existing jobs will see 40 per cent of core skills change in this process, Chia highlights.

But “we shouldn’t fear change”, he says. Companies can embrace this shift by upskilling employees. This is an area where public-private partnerships can be valuable.

Temasek is already working to promote training in the tech space. Its AI team is preparing tech professionals to explore AI innovation responsibly, alongside the Singapore Computer Society’s AI Ethics and Governance Certification Committee.

Tools such as AI and blockchain are the building blocks for a futuristic society, where finance, healthcare and food sectors are taken to a new level. Organisations that are developing these innovations and preparing their workforce with new skills will lead the way.

Image of Chia Hong Swee courtesy of Temasek International.