SMU, A*Star’s launch lab that aims to solve national problems using AI


SINGAPORE – Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*Star) launched a new lab on Tuesday (April 26) that will apply artificial intelligence (AI) technology to address high priority national challenges facing Singapore such as population aging and polarization.

The laboratory will develop tools and solutions adapted to the local context. One example is AI-powered systems that can monitor the well-being of older adults and alert caregivers to abnormalities.

Another example is a platform that can quickly generate sentiment and public opinion analysis to keep decision-makers informed and help them better respond to complex events like pandemics.

In addition, the lab will also conduct research that integrates the humanities and social sciences expertise of SMU and the science, technology, engineering, and mathematics (Stem) expertise of A*Star.

Speaking at the launch held at SMU’s Yong Pung How Law School, SMU Provost Timothy Clark said the new lab will focus on two main areas of research: social sciences computational and human-AI synergy.

Research in the first area will involve the use of AI and computational tools to study social issues such as population adaptability, resilience and cohesion.

Professor Clark said that computational tools can generate insights into large volumes of data, such as digital content collected online, but research in disciplines such as psychology and sociology is needed to understand how people generate and consume this content.

Understanding this will be key to devising ways to promote resilience and cohesion in society, and to fight division and lies, he added.

“Our faculty members participating in the joint lab are experts in social media analytics, network analytics, natural language processing, machine learning, and AI, which are essential to lead this area of ​​research,” said Professor Clark.

“They also have extensive experience in computational social science research on various societal challenges, such as media bias, polarization and fake news across many online platforms and regions.”

The other area of ​​research – human-AI synergy – will focus on developing advanced AI capable of better understanding human intentions using situational context and nuanced cues of human behavior such as body language, tone voice and facial expression.

Computer science professor Archan Misra, who is vice provost for research at SMU and co-director of the new lab, said advanced AI assistants with such capabilities can be integrated into concierge service kiosks in places. such as hospitals, hotels or university campuses.

AI assistants should be able to pick up on non-verbal cues, like recognizing when a user is confused or has forgotten something important.

It must also correctly infer what the user wants it to do and, if necessary, ask follow-up questions for clarification if it lacks sufficient information to complete the task.

“The reason we think social science is very important is that it’s not just about the ability of AI,” Prof Misra said, adding that designers of AI must take individual preferences into account.

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