Singapore most AI-ready among 12 APAC countries, says Salesforce
Fri 13 Oct 2023
Salesforce has released the 2023 Asia Pacific AI Readiness Index, which has Singapore holding the top spot for overall artificial intelligence (AI) readiness (70.1), ahead of 11 other economies.
Japan (59.8) and China (59.7) follow in second and third place. Singapore’s overall score has also improved further since the last report in 2021 (65.6), when it also ranked first.
The third edition of this biannual composite index measures businesses’ and governments’ multi-faceted AI readiness and its impact on socioeconomic opportunities through 15 statistical indicators.
In business AI readiness, Singapore ranks first (53.6), followed by China, (43.1), and South Korea (42.7). For government AI readiness, Singapore also ranks first (86.5), followed by Australia (77.7) and Japan (77.5).
These results are believed to be caused by the conducive policy and business environment shaped by Singapore’s AI-related initiatives. For instance, the National AI Strategy outlines plans to develop and deploy AI solutions across several key sectors of society. The AI Verify Foundation, of which Salesforce is a pioneering premier member, aims to promote the responsible use of AI by developing AI testing frameworks and best practices.
Overall, the Index shows a growing divide between mature and emerging digital economies on their readiness to adopt AI.
Apart from Singapore, Southeast Asian countries—Indonesia, Malaysia, Thailand, the Philippines, and Vietnam—all scored below the Asia Pacific average. However, these countries have all launched national AI policies between 2021 and 2022, suggesting that it may be a matter of time before we see the impact of the policies on the ground.
AI Readiness Will Impact Deployment of Generative AI
Generative AI is changing the way governments and businesses are thinking about AI. McKinsey projects that generative AI could grow the Asia-Pacific region’s economy by $2.6 trillion to $4.4 trillion annually by 2030.
The adoption and utilisation of generative AI requires a level of AI readiness, which includes:
- Infrastructure. Generative AI models require massive computational resources and specialised hardware.
- Data. Generative AI models require large amounts of high-quality training data to learn meaningful patterns and generate realistic content.
- Workforce development. Developing and deploying generative AI models require expertise in AI and machine learning.
- Ethical Design. Generative AI can raise ethical concerns, such as the potential for biased or harmful content.
- Integration. AI readiness also encompasses the ability to integrate generative AI models into real-world applications and workflows.
Overall AI Readiness has Advanced Across APAC
Of the 12 countries surveyed, five (Australia, Indonesia, New Zealand, Singapore, and Thailand) have seen their overall AI readiness improve from their 2021 score, a direct reflection of the AI-related initiatives these economies have launched between 2021 and 2023. Other APAC economies have also seen progress:
- Singapore leads the Index and has launched many decisive AI-related initiatives, with an aim to empower public- and private-sector organisations to adopt AI responsibly.
- Indonesia and Thailand have the largest increase in government AI readiness, a testament to the momentum since the introduction of their national AI strategies in 2021 and 2022 respectively.
- Japan and China, second and third on the list, have a strong focus on AI innovation.
- New Zealand is leading in digital government and open government data, which refers to the free and open publication of government data.
- Australia is among the top scorers in government AI readiness, reflecting its sustained momentum to build on its rich open data sources.
- South Korea leads in terms of creative outputs, which include intangible assets.
- India leads in terms of number of AI start-ups.
Sassoon Grigorian, VP of APAC Government Affairs at Salesforce, said: “For countries to succeed in this exciting AI environment, including the adoption of generative AI, their economies require a sufficient level of AI readiness. Singapore is leading the charge across the Asia Pacific with a focus on strategic AI deployment and safeguarding the responsible use of AI. Strong institutional, infrastructural, organisational, and ethical foundations around AI will be critical to success now and in our global AI future.
Private-Public Partnership Needed to Operationalise Use of AI in APAC
The report predicts that business AI readiness is poised to accelerate, as micro, small, and medium enterprises (MSMEs) start to invest and adopt AI technology. Actions that businesses and governments can take to further expedite AI readiness include:
- Implementing national AI strategies.
- Adopting a risk-based approach to AI regulation, and harmonisation and consistency around existing rules.
- Enabling responsible AI and ethics.
- Boosting AI talent.
- Leveraging AI for societal and economic benefit, together with an education campaign.
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