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MIT-Singapore AI Symposium 2024: Navigating the Future of AI

On 10 January 2024, the Mens, Manus, and Machina (M3S) IRG hosted the MIT-Singapore AI Symposium at the Campus for Research Excellence and Technological Enterprise (CREATE). Titled “How AI Empowers People, Institutions and the City”, this symposium aimed to promote the practical application of AI and machine technologies as extensions of human capabilities in today’s society.

Bringing together leading academics and industry experts, the event featured keynote speakers and panellists, including professors and researchers from SMART, MIT and other institutes, as well as executives from the National Research Foundation (NRF), Economic Development Board (EDB), SkillsFuture Singapore, AI Singapore, the National Robotics Programme, Changi Airport Group, Bain & Company and MotionG, among others. Through an afternoon of keynote speeches and panel discussions, robust conversations were held on the AI policy landscape, Singapore’s robotics ecosystem, fostering collaboration for the advancement of AI technologies, as well as how AI will impact the future of learning and work.

The event commenced with an engaging introduction by Professor Jinhua Zhao, Lead Principal Investigator of M3S and Professor of Cities and Transportation at MIT. The symposium, a collaborative effort under the Singapore-MIT Alliance for Research & Technology (SMART), set the tone for a thoughtful exploration of the interplay between human capabilities, emerging technologies and societal structures.

The first key topic of the symposium – “Global AI Policy Landscape” – covered the current status of global AI regulation and policymaking and the challenges of AI regulation. This session highlighted the need for greater collaboration between governments, scientists and industries to ensure the responsible development of AI and the creation of a robust and sustainable AI ecosystem. The next segment, “Bridging the Physical and Digital”, showcased the latest updates in Singapore’s local robotics ecosystem and how the seamless integration of  AI and machines opens up possibilities for innovation, efficiency, and sustainability. With Singapore at the forefront of using technological advancements to improve lives and processes, these insights provided a timely forecast on the evolving dynamics of smart cities and the influential role AI plays in shaping urban environments.

After the tea break, during which attendees had the opportunity to network and catch up with one another, SMART M3S representatives engaged in discussions with counterparts from EDB and NRF on the collective efforts made in navigating AI challenges and opportunities here in Singapore. 

As the afternoon drew to a close, the symposium’s focus shifted to how AI may impact the future of learning and the future of work. Robust discussions provided insights into the evolving educational landscape amid the rise of AI, including potential innovative teaching approaches, the integration of AI in learning platforms, the changing role of educators, and the challenges and opportunities in education policies. Moreover, as we prepare the workforce for an AI-driven future, conversations were held around concerns about job displacement and the importance of a collaborative approach to harnessing AI's potential for economic growth. These exchanges of ideas and perspectives highlighted the multifaceted impact of AI across urban development, business, and the evolving landscape of work.

The MIT-Singapore AI Symposium provided a platform for the various communities to come together to renew and build meaningful connections, recognise past, current and future collaborations that will impact the way we live, and chart the path forward together. It laid the groundwork for understanding the symbiotic relationship between AI and human development and emphasised its importance in navigating the future intelligently.


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