28 June 2018

On 4 June 2018, the Infocomm Media Development Authority (“IMDA”) announced that it will engage relevant stakeholders including the government, industry, consumers and academia to collaboratively shape IMDA’s plans for the artificial intelligence (“AI”) ecosystem through the following three new structured, interlinked initiatives:

  • An advisory council on the ethical use of AI and data (“Advisory Council”);
  • A discussion paper by the Personal Data Protection Commission (“PDPC”) on responsible development and adoption of AI, which will be used by the Advisory Council to frame its deliberations; and
  • A research programme on the governance of AI and data use to advance and inform scholarly research on AI governance issues.

Advisory council on the ethical use of AI and data

The Minister for Communications and Information will appoint the Advisory Council to advise and work with IMDA as follows:

  • Engage with relevant stakeholders such as ethics boards of commercial enterprises on ethical and related issues arising from private sector use of
    AI and data, and consumer advocates on consumer expectations and acceptance of such use;
  • Engage the private capital community to increase awareness of the need to incorporate ethics considerations in their investment decisions into businesses which develop or adopt AI; and
  • Establish a Legal and Technical Expert Panel to support the Advisory Council, as well as a Panel of International Experts for global perspectives.The Advisory Council will assist the government in developing ethics standards and reference governance frameworks and publish advisory guidelines, practical guidance, and/or codes of practice for the voluntary adoption by the industry.

Discussion paper on AI and data governance framework

To support the Advisory Council, PDPC has published a Discussion Paper (“Paper”) on “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Personal Data - Fostering Responsible Development and Adoption of AI” creates a baseline for discussion across stakeholders, encouraging common definitions and common frames for dialogue, and is intended as a living document. The Paper sets outs a four-stage governance framework as follows: 

  • Identify the objectives of an AI governance framework: The Paper sets out several objectives for the proposed framework. For example, an organisation that employs AI in its decision-making process should be able to explain how its AI engine functions, or be able to verify that the AI engine is performing to expectations and within the technical and ethical parameters set. The organisation should also put in place good data accountability practices. There should be open and transparent communication between stakeholders in the AI value chain to build trust in the entire AI ecosystem.
  • Select the appropriate organisational governance measures: The Paper identifies accountability-based practices that can help organisations render an account to a regulator, affected individual or interested stakeholder of how decisions are made.
  • Consider the consumer relationship management process: The third step in the AI governance framework is the management of communications with affected individuals and providing measures for recourse, which are important for building consumer trust and confidence.
  • Build a decision making and risk assessment framework: The final stage is to incorporate decision-making and risk assessment considerations into the framework. The risk and severity of harm to the customer are factors that affect which decision-making approach should be adopted, and in turn how organisations calibrate governance and consumer management processes.

Research programme on the governance of AI and data use

A five-year research programme on the governance of AI and data use will also be set up at the Singapore Management University to conduct scholarly research on policy, legal, regulatory, governance, ethics and other issues relating to AI and data use. It will support the Advisory Council and inform the government and industry discussion on AI challenges through its research and conferences.

Reference materials

The following materials are available on the IMDA website www.imda.gov.sg, Ministry for Communications and Information website www.mci.gov.sg and the PDPC website www.pdpc.gov.sg:


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