Singapore aims to drive digital trust with $36.3M research facility

Digital Trust Centre will provide a sandbox for businesses to test trust technologies that address challenges with data-sharing as well as train 100 research and development experts in digital trust.
Written by Eileen Yu, Senior Contributing Editor

Singapore is setting up a facility to drive the development of digital trust technologies, such as tools to ensure privacy in data exchange and assess the trustworthiness of digital systems. 

Called Digital Trust Centre, the new facility would drive the nation's research and development (R&D) efforts in digital trust technologies as well as build the necessary talent, said Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA). 

It noted that trust technologies aimed to augment systems in digital trust principles that spanned privacy, accountability, identity, integrity, fairness, safety, and compliance. 

Increasing connectivity, data use, and new technologies have underscored the need for digital trust in global economies, said IMDA. This would require technology to be secure and used responsibly, it said. "Digital trust is the confidence users have in the ability of people, technology, and processes to create a secured digital world," the Singapore government agency said. 

The Digital Trust Centre will be funded by IMDA and National Research Foundation with an investment of SG$50 million ($36.36 million). Nanyang Technological University has been tasked to establish the centre. 

The new facility would facilitate research by enabling Institutes of Higher Learning and research institutes to build research capabilities in trust technologies as well as facilitate local and international collaboration. 

It also would encourage organisations and academia to co-develop and drive research ideas towards commercialisation. In additional, the trust centre would provide a sandbox to enable companies to test trust technologies that address challenges with data-sharing. 

The centre would train 100 R&D experts in digital trust, according to IMDA. 

Montreal partnership to focus on trusted AI

IMDA also announced on Wednesday a new partnership with the International Centre of Expertise of Montreal for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (CEIMIA) in a "privacy enhancing technologies" (PET) project.

These involved tools and processes that enabled the sharing of insights extracted from data, without disclosure of that data. This presented potential to tap value from private or proprietary data that businesses would not usually be willing to disclose, IMDA said.

Under the cross-border collaboration, both cities would run practical PET demonstrations for AI systems and extract Insights to develop practical guidance for AI developers and system owners. 

This would further guide future R&D work and business adoption of PETs, as well as contribute towards developing international standards.

The project aimed to showcase how PET could enable AI systems that were geared towards ongoing efforts by the Global Partnership on AI (GPAI) in climate action, better health, and future of work. Such AI systems involved commercial and government stakeholders and often across multiple jurisdictions, making the use of PETs to overcome data barriers more compelling. 

Singapore is a founding member of the GPAI, a multi-stakeholder initiative that aims to foster international cooperation towards operationalising AI. 

Under the partnership, CEIMIA and IMDA would commit their respective expertise, including Singapore's Digital Trust Centre, and tap ongoing efforts in GPAI's other working groups to scope, design, engineer, and demonstrate real-world PET applications.

Singapore last week launched a governance testing framework and toolkit to demonstrate their "objective and verifiable" use of AI. The move was part of the government's efforts to drive transparency in AI deployments through technical and process checks.


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