Self-driving vehicles, dating apps which give out relationship advice, humanoid robots that crack jokes and get upset... With a global market that is expected to reach US$35,870 million by 2025 from its direct revenue sources, artificial intelligence (AI) is no longer just the subject of science fiction books. It\u2019s already here.\n\nAccording to a study carried out by IDC, in the ASEAN region, AI adoption rates are currently on the rise and growth has almost doubled in comparison to last year.\n\nWhen it comes to adopting this emerging technology, Indonesia is leading the way, with 24.6% of companies already embracing AI in some capacity. Thailand comes in second and the bronze medal goes to Singapore.\n\nThis is somewhat surprising, considering the city state is normally something of a trailblazer in the region when it comes to embracing new technologies.\n\nIt doesn\u2019t look like this trend is set to slow down any time soon, with businesses, startups and the government in Singapore all taking serious steps to reposition themselves as leaders in the AI market.\n\nIn 2018, the national initiative AI Singapore (AISG) announced two new initiatives in partnership with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the year before that, AI Singapore was set up with express instructions \u201cto catalyse, synergise and boost Singapore\u2019s AI capabilities to power [Singapore\u2019s] future, digital economy.\u201d\n\nThe government has also identified AI as one of the four core technologies essential to the country\u2019s push towards being \u201cdigitally ready\u201d.\n\nEmbracing the technology could help the country to overcome some of its current economic challenges of slowing growth, falling capital investment, soft workforce growth and decelerated productivity.\n\nArtificial intelligence has the potential to reinvigorate the state-island\u2019s economy and boost its industrial profits as, according to a recent report by Accenture, AI could add up to US$215 billion in gross value across 11 industries by 2035.\n\nAsia's First Model AI Governance Framework\n\nAt this year\u2019s Davos, the Singaporean government announced it was working with the World Economic Forum\u2019s Centre for Fourth Industrial Revolution (WEF C4IR) to help drive the ethical and responsible deployment of artificially intelligent technologies. The framework is the first of its kind to exist throughout Asia and provides guidance which is both detailed and readily implementable to help organisations throughout the city-state navigate the complex ethical questions that often arise when AI technologies and solutions are deployed.\n\nAccording to the Singaporean Minister for Communications and Information who announced the Model Framework, it is underpinned by two key principles the will help organisations to ensure: decisions made by or with the assistance of AI are explainable, transparent and fair to consumers and the artificial intelligence solutions they deploy are human-centric.\n\nSingapore has long been pushing to become a global leader in artificial intelligence and this Model Framework will be welcomed by those who work with this emerging technology. It builds on themes that were first raised back in 2018 and pays particular attention to deployments that involve internal governance, risk management, operations management and customer relationship management. Furthermore, it has the full support of the Singaporean Advisory Council on the Ethical Use of AI and Data \u2013 a group which consists of international AI leaders, consumer advocates and company leaders and helps to engage stakeholders on issues that support the development of AI governance capabilities and frameworks.\n\nBy announcing the Model Framework and its collaboration with WEF C4IR, Singapore is hoping to advance its position as a leading digital economy and Smart Nation. Being first Asian nation to develop an artificial intelligence framework will not only allow the country to continue investing in and building AI capabilities, it will also allow Singapore to remain competitive on a global scale.\n\nWhich industries are already benefiting from AI capabilities?\n\nHealthcare\n\nHealthcare is a field that is already reaping the benefits of AI use in Singapore. AI tools and assistants are now able to detect skin cancers, analyse chest x-rays or perform diabetes screens from a patient\u2019s retina scan.\n\nAI is also showing its value in healthcare research by helping to filter the vast amount of papers and reports that are being produced every year, helping doctors making the best decision when choosing new treatments.\n\nDr Joanne Ngeow Yuen Yie, senior consultant at the National Cancer Centre Singapore, thinks that the extensive body of available medical literature is a huge cognitive overload for physicians. \u201cNearly 60% of doctors are walking out on healthcare because they feel overwhelmed\u201d, she said in a recent seminar titled SGInnovate\u2019s Health Futures: AI & Genomics.\n\nIn a pioneering study published in April, scientists at the Agency for Science, Technology and Research's (A*STAR) Genome Institute of Singapore (GIS) developed a new type of AI known as machine learning computer models to accurately pinpoint roots of gastric cancer.\n\nThe AI methods and technology developed through this study will aid researchers in understanding the impact of mutations in non-coding DNA in other types of cancer. \n\nSteve Leonard, CEO of SGInnovate, a government-owned company which is also participating in AI Singapore and which funds deep tech startups, believes that the Asian country is positioning itself at the avant-garde of a healthcare AI revolution.\n\nTaking the example of a Singapore-based surgeon who was able to reduce his patients\u2019 recovery period by using robotics in his surgery and thus freeing up beds for other patients, Leonard said that the doctor was \u201cable to get patients out the same day, when it used to take four days for them to recover\u201d.\n\nThe biggest challenge for Leonard at the time of applying AI to healthcare lies in the mistrust and discomfort of some patients who might think that robots are replacing human doctors. \u201cSocial adoption is a bigger challenge than the technology\u201d, he said. However, \u201cit\u2019s not replacing the doctor - it\u2019s giving a tool to them; just like the stethoscope didn\u2019t replace the doctor\u201d.\n\nTransport\n\nNew legislation coming into effect during the second half of 2018 and that will affect the use of autonomous vehicles in the island-state has recently attracted world attention and made the country a testing ground for this innovative way of transportation.\n\nIn 2015, nuTonomy, a self-driving car company that focuses on developing software for autonomous vehicles and mobile robots, began testing self-driving cars in Singapore. Shortly afterwards they partnered with Grab (the most popular shared-ride service in the country) to make autonomous taxis widely available to the general public. However, until this kind of vehicles can be deemed completely safe, all taxis still have a driver in case of an emergency.\n\nNg Chee Meng, Singapore\u2019s former second minister for transport, reiterated Singapore\u2019s support to autonomous vehicles during a speech at the Committee of Supply Debate last year. \u201cWe are focusing on self-driving technology in a big way because they have the potential to dramatically improve public transport\u201d, he said. \u201cInitiatives are underway to develop self-driving buses and to explore how the technology can be applied for use in freight transport and utility vehicles.\u201d\n\nTaking into account that only 15% of Singaporeans own a car, an expansion of the autonomous cars market would significantly reduce the cost of shared rides and taxis.\n\nVehicle manufacturers estimate that autonomous vehicle technology will only start to take off between 2025 and 2030, a calculation not shared by nuTonomy, which is looking to launch commercial services in the country this year. Rather than creating cars that are designed to be specifically autonomous, nuTonomy wants to integrate their technology with existing cars and speed up the process of introduction.\n\nSeparately, Chinese bike sharing platform Mobike, which has operations in Singapore, uses an AI data monitoring platform to make forecasts of supply and demand for bike rentals to help improve the company\u2019s operational efficiency.\n\nAirport operations are also implementing AI technologies, particularly with the use of facial recognition to get passengers from the terminal to the aircraft in shorter times. Innovative CT X-ray machines, which do not require passengers to remove their laptops from their bags, are also being implemented.\n\nEarly in 2018, the Ministry of Transport said that the Civil Aviation Authority of Singapore (CAAS) is launching and Aviation Transformation Programme (ATP) that will promote the use of new technologies, including AI, to improve airport operations.\n\nFinancial and business services\n\nThe finance and business worlds are also experiencing an increase in AI use in Singapore. In these sectors it\u2019s mainly being applied to enhance customer experience and to drive efficiencies.\n\nFinancial services are using facial recognition technology to resolve issues of verification and thus speeding lending processes.\n\nBusiness services, covering a wide range of activities from real estate to accounting and legal, are expected to benefit the most from AI in the country.\n\nAI-powered tools can help enhance productivity with document mining, pattern recognition for fraud detection, information extraction and analysis, thus transforming and innovating ways to generate insights.\n\nEvie.ai, a Singapore-based startup, is behind Evie, an AI scheduling assistant that optimises resources with automation. Apart from scheduling meetings and organising diaries, Evie is able to coordinate calls, follow up with attendees and send out invitations.\n\nAI-enabled legal services could develop an AI engine to automatically review legal contracts and highlight any issues based on a business\u2019s legal policies and in this way ensuring consistency. It could also manage contract approvals and escalation which would get the right tasks to the right people automatically.\n\nManufacturing\n\nWith the world\u2019s leading chemical manufacturing sites, the industry remains an important actor within Singapore\u2019s economy.\n\nOver 100 global petroleum, petrochemical and speciality chemical companies are housed on 12 square miles of land.\n\nToday, Singapore is the world\u2019s fifth largest refinery export hub and amongst the top ten global chemical hubs by export volume.\n\nTherefore, it would make sense that Singapore focuses its AI potential in the manufacturing industry.\n\nAI adoption would not only make manpower more efficient, it will also lead to the realisation of the full potentials of existing machinery on the factory floor.\n\nAccenture's research calculates Singapore's manufacturing projected growth with AI in 2035 to increase by 40%: that is US$101.1 billion compared to US$71.3 billion without AI.\n\nIn late 2015, the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) started a Future of Manufacturing (FoM) Initiative in close consultation with the Ministry of Trade and Industry (MTI), the Economic Development Board (EDB) and SPRING Singapore under the government\u2019s Research, Innovation & Enterprise 2020 plan. \n\nThe deliberations involved extensive engagement with industry and the trade associations.\n\nThe goal of the initiative is to sustain Singapore\u2019s competitiveness in manufacturing and technology innovation so that it is a location of choice for developing, test-bedding and deploying advanced breaking-ground technologies in the manufacturing sector.\n\nThe 3 key thrusts of A*STAR\u2019s FoM Initiative are the public-private partnership platforms of Tech Access, Tech Depot and Model Factories, that aim to drive technology innovation, knowledge transfer and adoption across the manufacturing industry.\n\nRetail\n\nThe way people shop has changed dramatically since the advancement of digital technologies, resulting in a growing number of retailers now integrated artificial intelligence capabilities into the retail experience.\n\nIn Singapore, a company called Untitled Project have made it their mission to remake retail with AI. The services it offers help retail companies to improve everything from the supply chain, to providing a customised shopping experience, and enabling predictive modelling.\n\nUsing a number of sophisticated suggestion tools and self-learning AI algorithms which, once implemented, allows consumers find their way easily and quickly across the store and ultimately improves their overall shopping experience.\n\nIn addition to enhancing the way we shop; artificial intelligence has already helped to shape buying trends throughout the city state.\n\nOne startup, Crayon Data, is helping to do this through its \u2018Maya\u2019 product offering. It uses big data and artificial intelligence to map the personal tastes of customers to create personalised, digital experiences for them every time they connect digitally with the retailer of their choice.\n\nFurthermore, everyone from your big-name high-street stores to the newest boutiques are experimenting with AI-enabled chatbots to help improve and enhance the experience of their customers long after they\u2019ve left the store.\n\nEducation\n\nWhen it comes to the education sector, artificial intelligence impacts in two different ways.\n\nFirst, its through technology that is being developed to actively help teachers to educate their students. EdTech is still in its infancy but research has shown that the need exists, and VCs and investors have started to take note, with a precited US$250million expected to be spent on the tech in 2020.\n\nIn one preschool in Singapore, robots have already been brought in to help teach the children. KIBO has been designed to allow young children to take on the role of an engineer, constructing the robot and then using wooden blocks to programme sequential instructions from the robot to follow.\n\nThe robotics kit needed to build KIBO doesn\u2019t come with a computer, electronic screen or any other digital device that could lead to criticism about the damaging nature of pro-longed screen time on such young children.\n\nThis is not the first robot to assist pre-school teachers in Singapore, however. Two humanoid robots called Pepper and Nao were sent to two schools in 2016 to take part in a 7-month trial. To date, 160 KIBO robots have been sent to pre-schools throughout the country.\n\nThe second way artificial intelligence impacts on the education sector is through the global need for more AI talent.\n\nArtificial intelligence is one of the fastest growing sectors and currently, no country in the world has the necessary number of qualified workers to meet current demands.\n\nLike a number of other countries around the world, Singapore is looking to change this with a number of different education initiatives.\n\nOne such programme is being led by AI Singapore (AISG) and aims to target around 12,000 industry professionals and young students in an effort to build up local skillsets in AI.\n\nThe programme is designed to outline the practical use cases associated with AI whilst simultaneously helping AI professionals to boost productivity through the use of intelligent tools.\n\nAISG are also hoping to raise the importance of having government backing for initiatives such as AI-enabled, user-friendly public services to allow people to see just how vital this technology will be to the future of the country.