The Independent

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

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.

This article was first published by e27.co