SHANGHAI: Technology and innovation have opened up many possibilities, from transportation to healthcare to sustainable development, but new technologies also bring about challenges which we must work hard to resolve, said Singapore Deputy Prime Minister Heng Swee Keat.
Mr Heng made the remarks on Saturday (May 25) at a forum in China, where he is on a eight-day visit.
According to Mr Heng, the challenges include “geopolitical tensions resulting from the disruption of economics and value chains”, fraying social fabrics “due to the prospect of jobs being displaced by automation”, widening inequality, reduced human interactions, “echo chambers enabled by social media”, as well as data protection and digital privacy.
“Trust is strained because the speed with which fake news can be spread and digital anonymity are challenging the trust in our communication, and ethics and governance now require new interpretations as AI and blockchains raise new dimensions of accountability and liability,” he added.
These challenges, he said, must be resolved in order to harness the opportunities that technology is opening up.
In his speech, Mr Heng also shared lessons from Singapore in harnessing technology.
He pointed to three main thrusts and the first was to take a holistic, integrated approach to technology and innovation.
Second was to address issues that are most critical to society. In Singapore’s case, this includes issues such as water scarcity and security.
Third was to take concrete action towards collaboration. He cited Singapore’s joint project with China on the Tianjin Eco-city as an example.
He added that Singapore looks forward to exploring further opportunities with China through various bilateral platforms, including the Singapore-Shanghai Comprehensive Cooperation Council and the Joint Council for Bilateral Cooperation.
The Pujiang Innovation Forum is an annual event organised by China’s Ministry of Science and Technology and the Shanghai municipal government.
This year’s edition saw Singapore being invited to attend as the guest country of honour. Previous countries of honour include the UK and Germany.
The forum was also attended by China’s Minister of Science and Technology Wang Zhigang, Shanghai Party Secretary Li Qiang and Shanghai Mayor Ying Yong.
In a wide-ranging speech at the opening ceremony, Mr Wang touched on topics including China’s science and technology strategy, as well as research ethics.
“Researchers must defend the bottomline of academic standards. They must not do things that go against research ethics and public interest. As we gaze upon the sky of science, we must hold fast to mankind’s noble moral law,” said Mr Wang.
On Saturday, Mr Heng also toured the Zhangjiang International Innovation Harbour, which is part of a bigger Artificial Intelligence hub boasting corporate giants like Alibaba and Microsoft.
Mr Heng is halfway through his first overseas trip as Singapore Deputy Prime Minister.
The eight-day visit ends on May 29, and covers the cities of Beijing, Shanghai, Guangzhou, Shenzhen and Hong Kong.