The opportunities and risks of cloud adoption in Singapore

The Singapore Computer Society’s cloud computing conference explores how cloud computing is fundamental to digitization and what roles emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence will play.

Since 2018, the Singapore government has transferred some on-site infrastructure systems to commercial cloud platforms. “This will help us develop applications and services faster and more scalable,” said Tan Kiat How, Singapore’s Minister of State for National Development, at the recent Singapore Computer Society (SCS) cloud conference, which focused on cloud and artificial intelligence. (AI).

SCS President Chong Yoke Sin stressed that small and medium-sized enterprises should use the public cloud because they cannot afford to invest in servers, storage and network equipment. Multiple segments of the private sector – including tens of thousands of businesses – have also benefited from various government digitization programs, which strongly support the adoption of cloud technology, she said.

In contrast, the construction sector has fallen behind in the adoption of the cloud, Tan said. But there is no reason for this delay today: “Among the pre-approved solutions for government support, 95% of them are cloud-based.” The only exceptions are 3D design rendering and modeling systems, which require high-performance on-site computing.

The cloud is becoming the new norm, underpinning the global economy, global supply chains and remote workforce, said Anton Ravindran, president of SCS Cloud Chapter. “Technological developments such as AI and IoT [Internet of Things] are already playing a major role in reshaping our future, where the cloud will remain the backbone,” he said.

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Anton said AI was likely to improve the efficiency and speed of cloud computing. “Autonomous vehicles, smart homes, smart city infrastructure, smart food, smart wastewater, everything smart… wherever smarter algorithms can be deployed and delivered via the cloud will gradually become commonplace,” he said. “Revolutionary tool sets and applications based on NLP [natural language processing], object vision and image recognition will soon be widely deployed in the cloud. Add to that 5G [cellular networks], advanced computing and fog computing, there will be seriously futuristic possibilities beyond what we’ve seen so far in the cloud, and the pace of change will only accelerate.

However, cybersecurity challenges lurk in the opportunities that cloud-based intelligent systems offer public and private organizations. Raju Chellam, chairman of the Cloud and Data Standards of Singapore’s Computer Standards Committee, warned against the AI increasingly used by malicious robots and hackers. “Most applications and workloads run on the cloud, and tons of personal and business data reside in the cloud,” he said. “ISDs therefore have a great responsibility to ensure that data is protected, that standards and regulations are met, and that the company’s business is not impacted. AI tools can be of great value here. ยป

But AI has its own risks. “What is missing in the conversation about AI is the role of ethics,” Chellam said. The most notable effort in Asia, “which is probably a first in Asia or even in the world,” is the AI Ethics and Governance Knowledge Corps (BoK) of which Chellam is the editor-in-chief. The BoK is a collaboration between SCS and the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), a statutory council of the Singapore government, under the tutelage of the Ministry of Communications and Information.

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