What’s Real About AI?

Technology & Innovation

Published On Mon, 28 Aug 2023


Amidst the commotion surrounding self-driving cars and generative AI models, we unveil the truth about Artificial Intelligence and its place in our increasingly digital world.

As a new wave of digital transformation sweeps across the globe, one key contender has emerged in the spotlight more times than we can count—Artificial Intelligence (AI). No longer a figment of science fiction, the prominence of AI is a profound reality of the present, transforming our world in unimaginable ways. Even so, to many of us, the concept of AI sounds all at once familiar yet entirely foreign. What is it exactly and what can we expect from its accelerating growth?

Here, we bring you a rundown of the elusive realm of AI and debunk some common misconceptions about it along the way.


What is Artificial Intelligence? 

Humans are by far the most intelligent species on the planet, so it makes sense that we would want to leverage technology to replicate that trait. Considering there isn’t a clearcut definition of AI out there, let’s first get on the same page about what it really is.

Simply put, Artificial Intelligence is a branch of computer science with the ability to perform tasks and solve problems commonly associated with human intelligence. Machine learning, for instance, is a subset of AI that leverages data and algorithms to teach computers to “learn” and become self-improving—just like we can. One way to do so is through deep learning, the process of repeated training through neural networks modelled on the human brain[1]. This means that though AI systems are constantly improving, they’re also prone to inaccuracies like humans.


Google Deepmind’s AI AlphaGo has successfully defeated a world champion in the complex strategy game of Go, proving that AI has the ability to teach itself without human data and involvement. Image courtesy of Google Deepmind.

While these may seem like ultra-futuristic feats, AI as a modern concept has actually been around for at least 70 years thanks to early thinkers like Alan Turing, a British polymath who explored the possibility that machines could think and laid the groundwork for the computers we’re familiar with today[2].


Myth: AI is infallible and is always accurate.

Fact: AI systems are only as good as the data they are trained on. They can make errors just like humans.



A game changer across industries

AI systems have greatly evolved in the last 10 years, after decades of research and technological advancement. Today, we’re surrounded by intuitive AI technology from facial recognition to voice assistance, many of which we interact with daily without much thought.

In fact, today’s AI capabilities have already transformed industries and reshaped the job landscape, being tapped on in diverse markets to help us to do things smarter, faster, and better. A true testament to its potential, AI has even intercepted unexpected domains such as the dating sphere. Here, we list the latest AI developments in five prevalent fields.

Finance — Smart tools have been created to aid the public in financial and retirement planning, such as the NAV Planner pioneered by DBS bank in Singapore that helps customers make better investment decisions and empowers financial independence[3].

Healthcare — In the bid to increase our quality of life, AI systems like the colonoscopy tool GI Genius has tremendously aided healthcare professionals in the accuracy of early-stage detection and diagnosis of diseases such as colorectal cancer. They can also enable more personalised treatments and augment robots to carry out life-changing precision surgeries.

Manufacturing — Industrial Internet of Things (IIoT) and machine learning have provided a huge boost in the Fourth Industrial Revolution (or Industry 4.0), which sees the sector becoming more digitised.

Retail — In a highly competitive and dynamic world, AI can not only help retailers optimise operations, but also understand and predict consumer behaviour and market trends. For one, the global e-commerce platform Amazon uses a highly intelligent recommendation engine to analyse big data and anticipate customers’ needs.

Transportation — Who needs flying cars when we have driverless vehicles? A step up from smart driver assistants that many drivers have become accustomed to, fully autonomous cars are being trialled and implemented on many roads.

Myth: AI will eventually become uncontrollable and pose a threat to humanity.

FactAt present, all existing types of AI fall under the category of artificial narrow intelligence (ANI), or weak AI. While we’re still uncertain if AI can one day achieve sentience, current AI systems can only operate within the constraints set by developers.


RoboBees are micro-robots designed to assist in crop pollination and environmental monitoring to combat the threats of climate change. Image courtesy of Wyss Institute at Harvard University.


Myth: AI is only relevant to technological or scientific fields.

FactAI can be found everywhere and can benefit a wide range of industries, from retail to finance.


Looking towards key industry players

For many of us watching from the sidelines, the works of big names dominating the AI scene like Google and Microsoft are as far as our AI knowledge goes. But did you know that there are AI leaders at the Singapore Science Park that are generating a buzz of their own?

Pensees is dedicated to providing scalable AI solutions to stay at the forefront of the rapidly evolving AI landscape. Image courtesy of Pensees Singapore.

Pensees Singapore

Housed at The Cavendish is an award-winning AI company that aims to provide AI services for the betterment of society and individuals. Pensees Singapore leads the development of AI technologies to offer world-class solutions in the domains of facial recognition, person re-identification, and object detection.

Even if you’re not familiar with Pensees, it's likely you’ve benefitted from the fruits of the team’s brilliant minds around the city. One of their core products, PesEyes, champions human behaviour detection to enhance the safety of our environment. Using advanced algorithms and machine learning techniques in video analytics, PesEyes can intelligently identify security threats in real-time, provide incident documentation, and take proactive measures when faced with emergencies, among other capabilities. What’s more, the possible applications of this intelligent technology are plenty. To date, PesEyes has been implemented in social service agencies as well as both industrial and commercial properties islandwide.


Myth: Only big companies and tech giants can benefit from AI.

FactAI technologies and resources have become increasingly accessible to many organisations and even non-expert individuals.



Being in one of the most connected cities in the world, it’s easy to forget that nearly 50% of the world is still offline[4], which means that the benefits of AI are often inaccessible to remote regions and underground infrastructures. This point is not lost on SGLab, a homegrown company that provides self-sufficient end-to-end Internet of Things solutions, at Cintech III.

Driven to transform businesses that cannot yet be reached by commercial wireless communication providers and enabled by its self-sufficient connectivity, SGLab has established a wireless network that is stable, long ranging, and requires low power—suitable for uninterrupted monitoring in off-grid areas both on land and out at sea. In fact, the company’s first product is a connected plantation end-to-end solution for remote agricultural communities, primarily in the palm oil industry. So yes, in other words, SGLab’s solutions can be deployed anywhere in the world.

Not just that, but with a core expertise in AI, edge computing, and data analytics, SGLab is able to provide bespoke solutions for businesses’ unique digitisation and automation needs. For example, the company previously developed a nifty mobile application designed to perform automatic harvesting accounting with greater accuracy, traceability, accountability, and transparency than the traditional pen-to-paper method.

SGLab’s IoT solution uses a network of sensors to allow a bird’s eye view of agricultural spaces for effective operations monitoring, tracking, and data gathering. Image courtesy of SGLab.

The next frontier for AI

In truth, the AI we see today is just the tip of the iceberg. We’re only just beginning to witness its wonders in transforming entire civilisations and redefining our comprehension of technology. In our local context, Singapore’s annual economic growth rates are predicted to almost double by 2035 if we continue to harness the power of AI, with labour productivity increasing by 41% in that time[5].

That said, the progress of such advances also brings about ethical and moral dilemmas; along every unprecedented breakthrough comes heightened concerns around data privacy, security, and misuse. Part of the future therefore lies in making AI systems more transparent and maintaining a human-centric approach to their development.

Myth: AI will replace human jobs entirely.

FactAI is still nowhere close to reaching the full capabilities of humans. Instead of replacing us, it can actually help to create new jobs for the masses and greatly improve efficiency.


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