Singapore govt wants to help develop chat assistants which can understand Singaporean accents

The government also wants to train 200 AI professionals within three years.

By e27

The Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) has announced the launch of several new programmes to advance AI development in Singapore.

First, the IMDA will launch the AI Business Partnership Programme (AIBPP), where it will conduct workshops for companies to help them understand how AI can solve their business challenges — for example human resources or accounting. It will also co-develop suitable AI solutions with the businesses.

“Under the AIBPP, IMDA will consider defraying adoption risks by co-funding up to 50 per cent of supported qualifying costs for suitable projects, to a maximum of S$100,000 (US$73,400)/project,” said an official IMDA press release.

“To facilitate this process, IMDA will help to match companies with problem statements with appropriate solutions providers…Companies with problem statements which have no currently-available commercial solution will be channelled to AI Singapore’s 100 Experiments track,” it added.

Additionally, IMDA will work with SMEs Go Digital, a programme designed to help SMEs adopt tech solutions, to exposure more companies to AI solutions. SMEs Go Digital will also leverage its Digital Tech Hub to advise enterprises on using AI.

The Digital Tech Hub connects tech consultants to businesses, with the aim of building tailored tech solutions.

Training AI professionals

The next initiative in the pipeline is the AI Singapore Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) — a collaboration between IMDA and the TechSkills Accelerator (TeSA) initiatives (which include short courses for skills upgrading, immersion programmes and company-led training programmes).

Its main objective is to train up to 200 AI professionals over the course of three years Trainees will receive skills training and mentorship and will also be attached to industry projects for hands-on training.

The AIAP will be structured as a full-time, nine-month Company-Led Training (CLT).

To be eligible for the AIAP, the trainee must be a Singapore citizen holding a Degree qualification in: ICT; Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) disciplines; or related disciplines.

The trainee must also be a fresh professional, which is defined as within three years of graduation.

National Speed Corpus

IMDA wants to help AI companies build speech recognition technologies that can understand the Singaporean accent.

To this end, it wants to build a National Speech Corpus (NSC).

A corpus is library of audio and text files that allow Automatic Speech Recognition (ASR) solutions, such as voice assistants, to decipher spoken words and transcribe them into text, allowing queries (for example, calling a taxi) to be executed.

To build an effective Speech Corpus, multiple corpora with extensive data need to be gathered and analysed — to increase the precision of transcriptions. Obtaining access to different corpora data is traditionally difficult, so IMDA wants to facilitate easy access to this data.

All the aforementioned AI programmes will work in tandem with AI.SG, a S$150 million (US$107 million) launched by the NRF in July.

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  1. I hope we don’t to singlishise the assistant. So long as it can make out our brand of English accent, that is enough. Otherwise we have all to speak Singlish to our computers and mobile devices.

  2. An excellent start for AI applications for Singapore economic developments.

    However and as usual in Singapore the vision is undermined by their lack of understanding. First make AI studies for all. AI isn’t a difficult subject and any one with interest can pick it up easily. In fact it is easier than learning basic pascal programming language.

    200 AI professional not enough. We need 20,000 and more to make a significant impact.

    Criteria too grand too restrictive. Open to anyone graduate and non graduate who have real interest in this subject matter. Your criteria will have stopped the Apple ascendancy in the world.

    A I is a worldwide strategic technology and is like having intelligent PhD that runs almost everything in the modern world. You can never have enough of it.

    Singapore Government lacks the depth of understanding of the need of Singaporean and the future of Singapore.

    Our education is off by a wide margin and to believe in world medals of our educational system is to live in an illusion. WAKE UP.,!

  3. Easy and expensive non solution. How about just teaching English in our schools! Get the teachers back to school first to upgrade themselves so they pass proper English to students. I’ve heard many of them speaking and they need help. Always address the root of the problem. For those struggling with English presently, extremely inexpensive courses should be made available. Then maybe one day soon we will have a literate sounding Singaporean population.
    Tap on the old school retired teachers who are 60yo and above. Good English, IMHO, went out the window when they left

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