LivePerson revealed, 42% of Singapore businesses still believed that AI will replace jobs.

While artificial intelligence (AI) is one of the top technologies that will change Singapore’s business landscape in the next three years, most organisations in Singapore are still fearful of AI.

LivePerson surveyed 500 Singaporean IT, customer experience and digital decision-makers, revealing that a staggering 98% of respondents are taking steps to mitigate the risk of negative outcomes and to plan for the ethical use of AI. Three in five businesses surveyed (64%) have AI standards or guidelines in place.

As part of Singapore’s Smart Nation initiative, the government has announced plans to almost double the adoption of AI. It is widely recognized that AI has revolutionised the economy and improved society in recent years. Plans are already in place to develop AI as a strategic capability and to look at how Singapore can become a trusted global hub for test-bedding, deploying and scaling AI solutions.

The findings of this research reflected the same sentiment that AI has the potential to markedly increase industry growth, with half of digital leaders surveyed actively incorporating AI into their businesses to drive positive outcomes for their organizations, employees and customers. A significant number of Singaporean businesses using AI say the technology has had a positive impact on employee satisfaction (52%) and customer retention (53%).

Singapore businesses’ top concerns with AI

At the same time, the powerful outcomes that can be delivered by AI have given rise to new ethical considerations about the technology’s potential impact. Clear concerns emerged in the research about AI’s potential to negatively affect society, particularly when it comes to privacy and personal information.

The most common concerns held by Singapore businesses are: lack of transparency in how important decisions are made (92%), unauthorised access to data (92%) and loss of privacy (91%).

Most important to Singapore businesses are that people and organisations responsible for creating and implementing systems are held accountable for the impact of their system (93%) and AI systems should ensure private data is protected and kept confidential (93%).

Attitudes toward AI not reflected in practice

While Singapore organizations are concerned about the impact of AI on society, the research suggests Singapore businesses could be doing more to minimise the potential risks. Steps businesses are taking to mitigate the risk of negative outcomes primarily include: providing re-skilling training for employees (44%); consulting experts (38%); developing best practice guidelines (38%); reviewing global best practices (36%); and conducting reviews (35%) among others.

Where Singaporean businesses look to for AI leadership

There is mixed sentiment among Singaporean digital leaders on whether accountability for AI should lie with those developing (39%) or deploying the AI (37%). Within their organisations, respondents reported the board of directors (35%) and company leadership, including C-suites (31%), are most likely to have ultimate accountability for the decisions made by AI systems.

Singapore business leaders have differing views on who should be responsible for setting AI regulation and enforcing standards. Some say the responsibility sits with the Singaporean government (41%), some think industry bodies and associations (33%) should be responsible, and some point to global technology companies (30%).  However, interestingly, less than half (39%) of businesses think it’s ‘extremely important’ that AI systems comply with all relevant international and Singaporean regulations.

Rob LoCascio, CEO and Founder of LivePerson,said: “We’re on the cusp of a new era. Artificial intelligence is opening up tremendous potential for businesses and consumers alike. However, as with any new technology, businesses need to approach the development and implementation of AI with reflection under an ethical and long-term lens, looking at practical and proactive measures to ensure ongoing ethical implementation that results in the best outcomes for customers.

“As Singapore aims to become a thriving hub for AI in this region, in pursuit of its Smart Nation vision, we feel it is our duty at LivePerson as an enabler of this technology to highlight and drive discussion. And as the founder and CEO of LivePerson, I would like to reiterate to other business leaders the need to foster an ‘ethical AI mindset’.”

“This starts with developing a well-defined ethical AI strategy, as without this, AI will become the next digital technology that divides us. Ultimately, the technology industry, business and government must work together to right the future,” Rob added.