SCHOLARS'

EXPERIENCE

Building an inclusive and secure digital future
PHOTOS: FRENCHESCAR LIM

Singapore’s investments in Smart Nation initiatives have enabled the city state to overcome many challenges, including the recent pandemic. Three Smart Nation scholars share insights into the work they do at CSA, GovTech and IMDA to help improve people’s lives, facilitate business innovation and build a world-class tech infrastructure for the digital age

APPLYING TECHNOLOGY FOR PUBLIC GOOD

To drive a car, you probably do not need to know how the electronics, controls, safety systems and vehicle-to-vehicle communication systems work together to take you to your destination. It is, however, a different story if you are building one.

Similarly, to build a machine powered by AI will require specialised knowledge compared with operating a manufacturing robot. This is why Mr Howard Yang, an associate AI engineer at GovTech, obtained a mathematics and computer science degree from Imperial College London, so that he better understands “how things work under the hood,” he quips.

“My degree in mathematics and computer science provides that exact knowledge in the field of AI, in giving me a base from which I can make sense of the newer models and modify or troubleshoot, as required by the projects,” he adds.

Since joining GovTech in September last year (2021), the 24-year-old has been training AI models to be more intelligent and creating software to make better predictions for projects that he cannot reveal.

AI was identified as a key technology for Singapore’s Smart Nation transformation in the 2019 National Artificial Intelligence Strategy which maps out how Singapore will develop and use AI to transform the economy and improve people’s lives.

As an AI engineer, Mr Yang has worked on developing models to perform various checks on passport photos, to alleviate the workload of immigration officers.

These experiences gave him a broader understanding of how his daily work would make a difference to the lives of workers, especially those working in assembly lines.

With an ageing workforce in Singapore, Mr Yang believes that it is a race against time to automate the repetitive portions of jobs in general, so that people can focus on value-added tasks that require more flexibility or the human touch.

Visit tech.gov.sg for more information.

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