AI Singapore and the Digital and Intelligence Service Sign Memorandum of Understanding to Enhance AI Capabilities for Singapore’s Digital Defence

Senior Minister of State for Defence, Mr Heng Chee How, officiated the inaugural AI Student Developer Conference at the Lifelong Learning Institute today. Organised by AI Singapore (AISG) and attended by more than 300 participants, the conference allowed attendees to gain insights into Artificial Intelligence (AI) and the AI industry through panel discussions, interactive booths and workshops, as well as explore career opportunities with industry partners. As part of the conference, a Memorandum of Understanding (MOU) between AISG and the Singapore Armed Forces (SAF)’s Digital and Intelligence Service (DIS) was signed.

Delivering the opening address at the conference, Mr Heng said that, “Outside of the defence-specific sector partners, DIS is also enlarging its engagement with the wider technology ecosystem, including engagement with the commercial sector and academia… This MOU is another example of DIS’s pursuit in this direction of engagement, augmenting our ongoing efforts to build and to sustain a strong and capable workforce and talent pipeline to strengthen and sharpen the SAF’s digital cutting edge.”

The MOU between AISG and the DIS was signed by Head of LearnAI at AISG, Mr Koo Sengmeng and DIS Chief Digitalisation Officer Military Expert 7 (ME7) Guo Jinghua. Senior Director of AI Governance at AISG, Prof Simon Chesterman and Chief of Digital and Intelligence Service/Director Military Intelligence, Brigadier-General Lee Yi-Jin witnessed the signing of the MOU, which formalises the collaboration in deepening national AI expertise for Singapore’s digital defence.

The MOU will further collaboration and strengthen the DIS’s capability development in Data Science and AI (DSAI). The DIS will need to keep pace with, and agilely harness the rapid pace of AI innovation in academia and industry, to complement the strong AI capabilities of the Defence Technology Community. This is crucial for the DIS to better exploit the vast and growing volume of data in the digital domain, and effectively detect and respond to the increasing digital threats facing Singapore and Singaporeans. The DIS will leverage AISG’s industry and talent development programmes including the 100 Experiments (100E) and AI Apprenticeship Programme (AIAP) to expand the DIS’s capacity to deploy advance AI techniques, such as the use of Large Language Models and Reinforcement Learning, and integrate them into operations of the DIS and the SAF.

The DIS will also work with AISG to develop and expand its workforce. Through the introduction of AISG’s LearnAI courses, the DIS will expand its course offerings for DIS personnel’s professional upskilling. The DIS will also leverage AISG’s existing networks of students to sustain the DSAI talent pipeline, while supporting AISG’s mandate of growing and developing a national digital workforce. The DIS will enable national talents in AISG’s AIAP, who are undergoing AI deep-skilling, to contribute to national defence via their involvement in the various projects supporting the DIS. The DIS will also offer employment opportunities to these talents where suitable. In addition, AISG will share about National Service (NS) and career opportunities in the DIS, such as the Digital Work-Learn Scheme1, with students from the AISG Student Outreach Programme.

Highlighting the importance of the MOU for Singapore’s digital defence, Mr Koo said, “Our partnership with the DIS will ensure that Singapore has a robust and resilient pipeline of AI talents that have knowledge of issues related to national defence and possess the relevant expertise to protect our digital borders and safeguard Singapore. We look forward to working closely with the DIS to collectively deepen the core competencies of our next-generation Singapore Armed Forces to stay ahead of the threats of tomorrow.”

ME7 Guo said, “The DIS and AISG are working towards our common goal of strengthening digital capabilities to safeguard Singapore. The effective use of AI is crucial for the SAF’s mission success. We need to better reap the dynamic AI innovations in academia and industry, and integrate them into SAF operations. Our partnership with AISG is therefore an important part of our approach to leverage cutting-edge AI innovations. Beyond AI capability development, our partnership with AISG will help grow the DIS digital fighting force to defend Singapore in the digital domain, and contribute to the national AI talent pipeline through various schemes as the Digital Work-Learn Scheme.”

1 Servicemen under the WLS will serve for four years as Digital Specialists in the SAF, in a combination of full-time National Service and Regular service, developing data science, software development and AI skills through vocational, on-the-job and academic training.

Speech by Senior Minister of State for Defence Heng Chee How at the Inaugural AI Student Developer Conference on 13 May 2023