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MCI (P) 105/07/2018

EMERGING TECH: HYPE OR REALITY? 02 The Quest to Teach Our AI Right from Wrong

SOCIETY The Magazine of the Singapore Computer Society

04 Busted – Common Tech Career Myths

08 Koh Kong Meng Tells Us Why 3D Printing is More than Just a Hype 10 Nicholas Ma Shares How AI is Going to Fuel Our Future

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01 2019


Contents Vision

EDITOR’S MESSAGE

POWER BOOST

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Inflated Expectations Really Do Inspire Tech Innovations

Why the Cycle of Innovation Never Stops

To be the leading infocomm and digital media professional society in Singapore

Mission Lead the Way To lead and contribute to the vibrancy and growth of Singapore’s infocomm and digital media industry

THE BIG IDEA

#LATEST@SCS

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The Quest to Teach Our AI Right from Wrong

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SCS Gala Dinner 2019

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IT Leader Awards 2019 Winners

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Busted – Common Tech Career Myths

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SCS Cloud Conference 2019

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How Tech Disruptions Actually Make Doing Business Easier

New Data Centre Special Interest Group (SIG)

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Enterprise Architecture SIG Becomes a Chapter

Add Value

SPOTLIGHT

To add value to the infocomm and digital media professional’s career and personal development

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Koh Kong Meng Tells Us Why 3D Printing is More than Just a Hype

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Nicholas Ma Shares How AI is Going to Fuel Our Future

GEEK SPEAK 25

Is it Time to KonMari Our Digital Lives?

Be the Voice To engage and be the voice of the infocomm and digital media community

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FROM THE EDITOR’S DESK

9:41 AM

The Reality – Inflated Expectations Inspire Tech Innovations

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ew technologies are emerging faster than we can keep up these days. At a glance, they – Artificial Intelligence (AI), Internet of Things (IoT), 3D printing, etc. – each seems to have a life of their own. However, it is not hard to see them converging to fulfil a bigger aspiration of mankind – a better life. And indeed, smaller businesses and aspiring entrepreneurs are already benefitting from a more level playing field. But, I dare say we are still in the early days of creating a better world. After all, it is a tall order by any standard. And to make it harder, the endpoint is continuously shifting with issues such as climate change and ageing population popping up. Then there is also the contention – how far should we push the cause for innovations without sidestepping ethical boundaries? Fortunately, veterans like Koh Kong Meng, HP Inc’s Managing Director and General Manager for South East Asia and Korea; and Nicholas Ma,

EDITOR Tan Teng Cheong CONTRIBUTING WRITERS Vladyslav Koshelyev Sean Low Tan Teng Cheong Dr Han Yu

ADVERTISING SALES & ADMIN Claudia Lim For ad sales enquiries, Tel: 6226 2567 ext 12 Email: claudia.lim@scs.org.sg Mailing Address 53 Neil Road Singapore 088891

EDITORIAL SUPPORT Claudia Lim

EMAIL scs.secretariat@scs.org.sg EDITORIAL & DESIGN Lancer Design Pte Ltd

Chief Executive Officer of Huawei International Pte Ltd remain passionate and committed to delivering innovations that not only meet expectations, but also exceed them. Nonetheless, as the saying goes, “many hands make light work”. So it is no secret that we need every hand we can get – bold and ambitious tech professionals wanted. And if you are already along with us for the ride – thank you! We know it is not always a bed of roses, and the never-ending cycle of innovation can be disheartening sometimes. But fortune favours the persistent. So let’s stay focused and positive – always. Happy reading!

TAN TENG CHEONG Editor Fellow, SCS tan.teng.cheong@scs.org.sg

FEEDBACK We value your feedback for this magazine. Simply email scs.secretariat@scs.org.sg with your comments to help us produce an even more interesting and relevant magazine for you in subsequent issues. You are welcome to submit articles for inclusion consideration. For advertising enquiries, please call 6226 2567 or email scs.secretariat@scs.org.sg. The IT Society is the official publication of the Singapore Computer Society. Any part of this publication may be reproduced as long as credit is given to the publisher, Singapore Computer Society. All views expressed by contributors are their own and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Society.

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THE BIG IDEA

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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

Ethics and AI:

Teaching Our Machines to Tell Right from Wrong From recommending products on Taobao.com to assessing an individual’s creditworthiness based on their behaviour on social media app WeChat, Artificial Intelligence (AI) is becoming an integral part of daily lives for millions of people. As a result of its rapid development and growing significance, ethical issues in AI have become a point of public debate and discussion.

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n particular, a number of recent accidents related to autonomous vehicles has brought the topic to the forefront of public attention. In addition, the recent large-scale study conducted by the MIT Moral Machine project1 further reveals the ethical dilemmas facing autonomous vehicle designers, passengers, and other road users and the complexity involved in getting a society to agree on the ethics governing AI applications. These developments suggest that there is a need for a social contract between AI and society.

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MIT Moral Machine project http://moralmachine.mit.edu/

DR HAN YU Nanyang Assistant Professor, School of Computer Science and Engineering, Nanyang Technological University


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STEP

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THE BIG IDEA

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STEP

Figuring out What is Right

As of now, the AI research community has agreed on some desirable qualities of an ethical AI system. These include guidelines such as: AI applications should respect and protect user privacy; decisions made by AI should be fair, unbiased and explainable to human beings; and for the purpose of accountability, responsibility attribution should be possible if something goes wrong. Various groups are also researching ethical dilemmas, individual and collective ethical AI decisionmaking, and ethical human-AI interactions2. However, while pockets of advances have been made, few of them have reached the stage where research outcomes can be deployed in real-world AI applications.

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Getting Buy-in to Best Practices

The Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence (AAAI) has also teamed up with the Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) in 2018 to organise the AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society (AIES)3. The Conference provides a platform for AI researchers and social scientists to come together and work out interdisciplinary solutions to ethical challenges in AI applications.

Notably, acknowledgement of the importance of incorporating ethics into AI has also led to the engagement of the AI research and engineering community in a number of global initiatives. One such initiative is the IEEE Global Initiative on Ethics of Autonomous and Intelligent Systems, established by the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers (IEEE). Since its inception, the Initiative has produced the Ethically Aligned Design (EAD) report which outlines principles, guidelines and best practices for developing and governing future AI empowered systems.

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Taking Positive (Not Limiting) Actions

However, without waiting for ethical AI technologies to be ready, the legislative landscape has already evolved. In 2016, the European Union (EU) established one of the most stringent privacy protection laws targeting AI applications with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR). The GDPR specifies many terms aimed at protecting user privacy and prohibiting organisations from exchanging data without explicit user approval. Similar laws have also since emerged in China and the US. These harsh legal environments threaten to impede AI development by making it infeasible for different companies who own diverse types of user data to collaborate and build new business. Fortunately, the AI research community has an appropriate response to the imposed legal challenges. Through introducing a new paradigm of machine learning – federated learning, different data owners can continue to collaborate and collectively train a model by storing data locally and observing secure protocols such as homogeneous encryption, differential privacy, and secret sharing to prevent user privacy breach4.

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Empowering Continuous Improvement

One of the proponents for federated learning is the Federated AI Ecosystem (FedAI)5 led by Professor Qiang Yang, Chief AI Officer (CAIO) of WeBank. Besides providing a global open platform for research, development, and deployment of federated learning technologies in areas with strong data privacy concerns such as banking and healthcare, FedAI is also dedicated to fostering an inclusive environment for open source development by making available source code for the building blocks of federated learning – the Federated AI Technology Enabler (FATE) – as well as tutorial materials which enable AI researchers and engineers to create more complex and capable privacy preserving machine learning technologies compliant with stricter laws governing AI. Indeed, this approach has the potential to enable AI to continue its strong development trajectory forward even as the legal environment becomes tougher. The future of AI looks bright and it is an exciting time to work in this domain. But much of the road ahead tests our resolve to not only make AI a fair tool, but also a sustainable systemic technology that brings about a more just society for all.

H. Yu, Z. Shen, C. Miao, C. Leung, V. R. Lesser & Q. Yang, “Building Ethics into Artificial Intelligence,” in Proceedings of the 27th International Joint Conference on Artificial Intelligence (IJCAI’18), pp. 5527–5533, 2018. AAAI/ACM Conference on Artificial Intelligence, Ethics, and Society (AIES) http://www.aies-conference.com/ Q. Yang, Y. Liu, T. Chen & Y. Tong, “Federated Learning: Concepts and Applications,” ACM Transactions on Intelligent Systems and Technology (TIST), vol. 10, no. 2, pp. 12:1–12:19, 2019. Federated AI Ecosystem (FedAI) https://www.fedai.org/


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

Perception versus Reality:

What’s it Really Like Working in Tech?

Are tech careers as exciting, inspiring and fulfilling as projected in the media? Or boring, stressful – soul-destroying – as anonymous keyboard warriors in online forums vent? Such conflicting messages are confusing. So for the aspiring tech professionals who are wondering what it’s really like to work in tech, this article is dedicated to you!

TAN TENG CHEONG Fellow, SCS Director, BetterIDEAS

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ut to the chase – my personal take is that tech probably offers one of the most interesting, exhilarating, satisfying (and potentially well paying!) careers. There are few other jobs in the world where creativity and teamwork are used as much to build solutions that change the way we work, live and play – and potentially the world.


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The Tech Industry, The Tech Professional One of the biggest misperceptions about working in tech is that when one works in a tech role, one is automatically working in the “tech industry”. This is actually incorrect because “industry” is used to refer to companies and organisations. Some examples, banks and insurance companies are part of the financial services industry; airlines and taxi companies are part of the transportation industry. Hence, by that definition, the ones that make up the tech industry are actually hardware, software and IT services companies. That means – you can be a tech person but not work in the tech industry. Truth is, there are many more tech jobs in non-tech industries – like a Data Scientist in a bank, or a Supply Chain Analyst in an oil and gas company. Suddenly, possibilities of building a tech career become endless – you can practically work in any industry. So if your goal is to become a tech professional, start with focusing on the role and function you wish to specialise in. Choices are aplenty: developer, architect, business analyst, project manager, test professional, system administrator…and – not forgetting – cybersecurity expert, an increasingly popular option. Then pick an industry that provides you a runway to grow and where you envision you can work in for a long time to develop your expertise. That’s how you build deep skills and experience to grow your career over time. Note of caution though, do continue to keep an open mind, stay connected and be ready to embrace change. After all, we are living in exciting times – everything is becoming “digitalised”, and the lines between industries are blurring. So be prepared for the traditional definition of industries to be challenged continuously – is Grab a taxi company, RedMart a supermarket, PropertyGuru a real estate company or are they all software companies that turn traditional industries upside down?

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Flying Solo, Flying in Formation It is not uncommon for the media to portray programmers as lone wolves (usually male) who hide in their favourite corner of the house, code non-stop for x hours, and then emerge with a program that changes the world. This cannot be further from the real world. Tech work is really more like playing team sports. Everyone plays to their best in the respective functions, but the game can only be won when everyone works seamlessly as a team. Today’s business and IT operating environments are pretty much like the fields and the courts (with aircon of course!). Not only are ideas and plans brainstormed and discussed, bugs are also tackled – as a team. That’s why before you attempt any bitwise operation in your code to achieve that most efficient mathematical operation – learn to be a good team player first.

Trivia If you recall Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong’s nowfamous Sudoku Solver written in C++, he used a lot of bitwise operations. For those not in the know, using bitwise operations the way he did is the equivalent of performing gymnastics in coding!

THE BIG IDEA

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Working with People, Working with Machines If you think working in tech is to work (almost) exclusively with machines, then you are sorely mistaken. Yes, there’ll still be a lot of “face time” with machines: translating requirements into code, analysing data produced, optimising response time, replicating errors reported by users to fix that elusive bug. Or in the case of administrators, to monitor the machine making sure it’s operating optimally, and with no unwanted guests in the system. But solutions and systems these days are usually complex and revolve around solving problems for people. Therefore, whether it’s to find a completely new way of doing something or streamlining an existing process – it takes working with people and users to understand the problem before putting code together to fix it. There’s no shortcut – expect to be working with people and machines, all in a day’s work. Take heart. No matter you’re more of a people person or a machine person – there’s always a place for you in tech. With its increasing adoption by organisations to leapfrog competition strategically (or to provide that new innovative service), the scope is wide as long as you are methodical and logical. Because with machines, “1” is always “one” and “0”, always “zero” – so bugs in the system are almost certainly caused by a human, and not the machine. Welcome to the Brave New World of Computing!


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THE BIG IDEA

THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

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Democratising Tech:

Why is it an Aspiring Entrepreneur’s Dream Come True?

VLADYSLAV KOSHELYEV Member, SCS Academy Lead, Global Accounts, Facebook Editor, 2Footsteps.world

These days, the annual release of increasingly powerful computer upgrades hardly surprises us anymore. The recent wave of technological disruptions however is more than just a bump up in specifications. Instead, it gives everyone access to business tools that were available to only a small number of wealthy corporations just a few years back.

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t is almost as if an invisible force has opened a jar with lots of bottledup creativity that is bursting with all kinds of enterprises, startups, and freelance outfits. Now, with the lid off, the magical effect of technology is bringing down barriers of entry in almost every important business function – distribution, marketing and operations.


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DISTRIBUTION OF WARES DIRECTLY AND GLOBALLY MADE EASY Remember the early days when merely creating a decent webpage required advanced knowledge of HTML? Otherwise, the alternative of hiring someone to build it would mean a significant upfront investment. Today, you can simply build and launch a site for your latest business idea using Wordpress and other similar visual website builders, all within a day. Or, easier still, set up a business profile on one of the major social media platforms. Crafting a compelling online storefront for prospective customers is now entirely accessible to anyone with the abundance of free or open-source solutions. Regardless of whether you are looking to reach local, international or specific trade buyers, choices are many. For goods, merchants can reach local and international buyers through e-commerce platforms such as Carousell, Amazon and Shopify. Similarly, musicians can skip big labels and reach fans directly on Bandcamp and SoundCloud. Even traditional industries like dining are seeing the rise of online-only restaurants that operate exclusively through UberEats, GrabFood and other delivery services. Be it establishing an online presence or making business transactions, technology has put the tools within easy reach.

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MARKETING YOUR BRAND WORLDWIDE AT AFFORDABLE COST Those who still own a TV may have noticed that advertisements running during commercial breaks come mostly from large, well-known brands. This is because airtime on television remains incredibly expensive. Other traditional forms of marketing like buying print ads or classified announcements in magazines or newspapers are also beyond what most small businesses can typically afford. However, platforms such as Google, Facebook, LinkedIn, Twitter and others have changed the game entirely. Not only do they allow anyone to promote their work for literally a few dollars, businesses can also choose to target people most likely to be interested in what they have to offer – linking them directly to prospective customers. This dramatic cost reduction is just one aspect of the democratisation of marketing that technology has brought. What’s perhaps more important is that these new platforms provide intuitive self-service interfaces that give everyone the ability to design, create and analyse their ads without a steep learning curve. Anyone can be Don Draper with a personal advertising agency right on their smartphones. OPERATING YOUR BUSINESS EFFICIENTLY AND EFFECTIVELY WITH TECH Then there’s the nitty-gritty of running the business. On one hand, office operations such as accounting, invoicing and inventory management may sound trivial; on the other – how many potential entrepreneurs were turned off by the prospect of having to deal with these labour-intensive, expensive and tedious tasks?

THE BIG IDEA

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Technology comes to the rescue again, compressing an entire back office into a few phone apps such as QuickBooks, On Shelf and Wave. These software don’t just help to keep costs low and free up more time for creative work, but also facilitate new viable business models, including oneperson enterprises. What better use of technology can there be than helping people do what they do best? OPPORTUNITIES FOR GROWTH ARE EVERYWHERE As more incredible tools are delivered into our hands, there is every reason to look forward to even more opportunities in the future. As it is, we are seeing startups in Singapore offering 3D printing services today. Combined with increasingly lower prices and availability of intuitive modeling software, it is almost a certainty that on-demand manufacturing will bring back the maker in all of us – only now with the ability to earn a living. Then there’s also Artificial Intelligence (AI), which many people still associate with sci-fi movies. In reality, powerful machine learning services from Google, Amazon and IBM are already readily accessible through the cloud – even on the cheapest laptop. And as with all things tech, access to AI will only become more affordable and more user-friendly for creators in the not so far future. Yet, while we are truly at the very start of democratisation of tech and every industry – we should explore these new possibilities with a caveat. Even though some processes have been made simpler, certain elements like expertise and hard work stay unchanged and crucial. The fact remains that anyone can use the technology, but not everyone will be able to use it well. However, for those who have great ideas and skills to support it, the world is their market.


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

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3D Printing:

Hype or Worldtransforming Technology? KOH KONG MENG Senior Member, SCS Managing Director and General Manager for South East Asia and Korea, HP Inc Age: 51 Earliest Tech Experience: Learning to code in secondary school Currently Watching: Salt, Fat, Acid, Heat and The Grand Tour Currently Playing With: Drones and cameras Pet Topics: E-commerce, 3D printing, how to make the right decisions Tip for Relaxing: Practise mindfulness

Although the technology of 3D printing has been around for over 30 years, its development in recent years has drawn much attention from both manufacturers and consumers. Today, supporters of 3D printing believe that it has the potential to revolutionise the way we do everything – from healthcare to logistics to manufacturing. Does the global leader in 3D printing – HP – see these same opportunities? The IT Society speaks to HP Inc’s Koh Kong Meng to get an insider’s perspective. Q: Question, KM: Kong Meng Q: Is 3D printing a hype? KM: There have always been many inflated claims about what new technology can do, but if you take a longer view of it, you will realise that most of them have been fulfilled over time. Take the dot-com boom in the 2000s. It went bust because of unfulfilled expectations about the Internet, but those expectations have since been met and even surpassed. With 3D printing, the same concept applies. It’s all about giving time for the expectations around 3D printing to bear fruit.

addressing before 3D printing can truly realise its full potential. One of it is the speed of production. Currently, 3D printing is mainly used for low volume, high-end products such as prototyping, or parts for the aerospace industry because 3D printers today are not able to produce high quality end-user parts at an acceptable speed. HP is addressing this today with 3D printers that print up to 10 times faster than the industry average at half the cost. We’re also looking into ways to improve the speed of printing in the future.

Q: Where do we stand in terms of 3D printing technology now? KM: Good progress has been made in the recent years where 3D printing is concerned. However, there are still important challenges which need

Another aspect is the usable material for printing. The range of materials compatible with 3D printers at the moment is relatively limited. But that is changing. For example, at HP, we are exploring the possible use of metals

and other materials through our HP Multi Jet Fusion Open Platform. The platform aims to foster widespread adoption of 3D printing by expanding the availability of new materials to address a broader set of applications, lowering material costs, and creating new possibilities for part properties that address specific industry needs. Q: Given these challenges, why is everyone still so excited about 3D printing? KM: Primarily because once these challenges are resolved, 3D printing has the potential to drive down costs and increase usability in ways unimaginable with traditional modes of manufacturing. Compared to traditional manufacturing that uses a reductive process, 3D printing employs an additive process which allows for low volume customisation and production


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without compromising on tensile strength. In addition, 3D printing has the advantage of being able to print complex designs with minimum wastage. And that is not all – 3D printing has the power to change global consumption. With traditional manufacturing, products are typically mass-produced for the sake of achieving economies of scale and then subsequently shipped to the place of sale. With 3D printing, products can be produced close to site of purchase or consumption as long as the design is available. Products can also be customised to fit individual needs and taste. For instance, spectacle frames can be customised to suit personal face shapes and sizes. On a macro level, 3D printing has the ability to transform the way businesses are conducted. Instead of building big production plants at low-cost sites and shipping goods around the world to different markets, 3D printing enables

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businesses to produce on demand close to markets where the products are consumed. Logistics become simplified, wastage is minimised and carbon footprint is reduced with manufacturing taking place closer to the source of consumption. In a nutshell, 3D printing makes for a more sustainable world. Q: Besides hardware, what could impede the advance of 3D printing? KM: The difference between 3D printing and traditional manufacturing processes means that workers will need to adopt very different mindsets and learn new skills. In some cases, I think there is even a need to unlearn the current way of doing things in order to take full advantage of what 3D printing can offer. But HP is already working on that. Our recent partnership with Nanyang Technological University (NTU) saw the launch of the HP-NTU Digital Manufacturing Corporate Lab, which aims to train the next generation of engineers and designers.

SPOTLIGHT

Q: What keeps your passion burning for the tech industry after all the years? KM: The tech industry is unique in that change is actively sought after. For example in the case of HP, we are driven by our guiding principle – innovation that matters – to constantly push for ways to improve our products by leveraging emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, social media, augmented reality, virtual reality, etc. On top of that, we also proactively focus our product innovations to answer the question: “how do our products fulfil human needs”. By doing so, our purpose is strengthened and we are able to look beyond what we are currently doing to think of how we can do things differently to improve lives. With the amount of changes happening around us today at a high speed, such opportunities are everywhere, and they are exciting.

“While 3D printing cannot solve all of our problems, it definitely has the ability to make the world a better place by improving lives and making it more sustainable – we just need to give it time to grow, mature and deliver on all these promises.”

What is a quote you live by?

What is your hope for the local tech community?

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What is an advice for young professionals looking to join the tech industry?

What about the future tech landscape excites you?

What is an advice for mid-career professionals in the tech industry to stay relevant?


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SPOTLIGHT

THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

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The Reality of Artificial Intelligence:

Expectations Meet Possibilities

NICHOLAS MA Chief Executive Officer, Huawei International Age: 39 Earliest Tech Experience: Coding at age 19 Recently Read: What the Customer Wants You to Know by Ram Charan Favourite Way to Relax: Playing sports like tennis and golf

The topic of Artificial Intelligence (AI) almost always comes up when we talk about the future of technology. And the common thread is that AI will change the way we work, live and play. We cannot help but wonder what is the impact of its rise to a technology market leader like Huawei and their strategy for seizing the opportunities AI brings. The IT Society speaks to Huawei International’s Chief Executive Officer Nicholas Ma to find out. Q: Question, NM: Nicholas Ma Q: Most people know Huawei for its cutting-edge smartphones, but that is just one part of Huawei’s business. Can you give us an overview of Huawei? NM: Aside from smart devices such as smartphones, tablets and wearables that consumers know us for, Huawei also provides enterprise products, solutions and services for businesses and governments across four key domains – telecom networks, IT, smart devices, and cloud services and intelligent computing.

Q: How important is AI technology to Huawei on a strategic level? NM: At Huawei, we see great potential in AI and have mapped out an ambitious strategy for the next few years. We have not only identified broad areas where we see we can grow in, but also put in place specific plans that build upon our existing capabilities to do more. The establishment of the Intelligent Computing Business Unit to develop AI infrastructure products is one of them.

We recognise that much of the focus today is on connecting things like smart homes, autonomous vehicles and the Internet of Things (IoT). And central to the growth of these technologies is the availability of large amounts of quality data and machine learning. Besides new technologies, AI also has the power to transform traditional communication systems, making them more agile and intelligent. One example is cloud computing. With the augmentation of AI, cloud can go beyond being a technology that mainly provides data storage to providing data analytics.


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SPOTLIGHT

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“We are witnessing an unprecedented rate of change everywhere. Something new is always being developed, and what is at the forefront now will be old news six months later. This is all the more reason to constantly renew our knowledge and step up our learning pace.”

Of course, some of these AI enabled technologies are still in the early growth stage. But the promise is there for them to mature and bring about great benefits for people and businesses. Naturally, Huawei prioritises our investment in proprietary AI technology development. Q: What are some AI innovations that the newly established Intelligent Computing Business Unit is working on at the moment? NM: Actually, Huawei Intelligent Computing Business Unit is not new, it is an evolution from Huawei Server Product Line which had been doing development for over 16 years now. But with the new branding, we are looking to bring about pervasive intelligent computing with innovation in chip algorithms and architectures. For example, the Ascend310 AI chip we released at HUAWEI CONNECT 2018 can recognise more than 200 faces in a single frame picture as compared to a maximum of 30 faces in a common processor. With a performance that is seven times better, its power consumption is no more than eight watts. Similarly, our Ascend chip-based Atlas intelligent computing platform builds upon Huawei’s Ascend series AI processors and mainstream heterogeneous computing components in the industry to provide AI infrastructure solutions that can be widely used in smart city, smart transportation, smart healthcare, and other AI inference. We are hopeful that through our continuous innovations,

our customers will have access to powerful computing – paving the way to the future of AI. Q: How does Singapore fit in with Huawei’s AI strategy? NM: Huawei has been in Singapore for over 18 years now and is definitely our most important hub for the AsiaPacific region, outside China. The importance of Singapore to Huawei is further fuelled by the synergy between our increasing focus on AI and Singapore’s vibrant AI research and development landscape. The launch of our new regional office in Singapore on 20 February 2019 reflects our confidence and hope for the country and the region. In tandem with our plans to build Huawei’s AI capabilities in Singapore, we are actively collaborating with industry partners to develop and deepdive into end-to-end solutions. After all, for AI to truly deliver on everyone’s expectations and for adoption to take place, having a comprehensive ecosystem is important. Therefore, it is not enough for Huawei to provide AI enabled infrastructure; we also need partners who share the same vision to leverage the platform and develop compatible applications. Towards this aim, we are launching our AI enabled cloud in April this year to give local startups a platform to develop on. Q: How else does a presence in Singapore help with Huawei’s AI strategy? NM: Singapore presents a very unique environment for Huawei. It is one of

the most open economies globally which enables us to reach out to diverse demographics of people and industries in the region – and even globally – with our solutions. For us to realise our AI aspirations, we need trained talents who are passionate about AI research and development to join us in pushing the cause forward. And organisations like the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA), Economic Development Board (EDB) and the National University of Singapore (NUS) have been very supportive in this aspect. We are eager to enlarge the coverage of cooperation with other universities, polytechnics and industrial players. Together with some of these universities and polytechnics, we have launched the Seeds for the Future programme, which targets to cultivate Singaporean undergraduates into future AI talents. Q: What are your hopes for the tech industry? NM: Over the course of my work, I’ve travelled to more than 50 countries for different projects. And till today, it is still very heartening to see how much the locals appreciate the work we do for them. They reaffirm the value of our work and, more importantly, show us how our services have the ability to change lives and make the world a better place. It is a humbling experience and a strong reminder that – as a big technology company, Huawei can play a part to help solve some of the most complex problems in the world today.


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

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OUROBOROS The Cycle of Innovation

INSPIRATION COMES CALLING

THE JOURNEY OF COMPROMISE BEGINS

Innovation is a cycle. During the first bursts of inspiration, your muse will tell you wonderful stories about your idea – acceptance, overnight success, accolades, and ticket to retirement at the age of 30. Your heartbeat goes up; you pace your living room and bite your nails in nervous anticipation.

Where does that leave you? You start cutting back on your initial idea – think small, break the idea into bitesized chunks and develop a practical product development cycle. Worse, against your better judgement, you doubt your instinct and adopt your colleagues’ mantra to be more realistic – and forget about it.

REALITY HITS HOME Then pragmatism and practicalities set in. The software gurus will explain they need two years to redo the platform at current resource levels, or one month at the cost of millions of dollars and an army of programmers. Then the money guy will question the amount of revenue it brings over a period of one, three and five years, and at what cost – even if the product you are trying to create is the first of its kind. Finally, the marketing folks will demand to know who else has done it before, and if none, why not – because, maybe, just maybe, it doesn’t work?

NEW INSPIRATION STRIKES – AGAIN Then one night you wake up. Your heartbeat goes up; you pace your living room and bite your nails in nervous anticipation. You have an idea, bigger and better than the last one. Something that will inspire future generations and assure your retirement at the age of 40. Next morning, you go to work whistling, back straight with a confident stride. The innovation cycle starts all over again.

THE DEATH OF THE DOWNSIZED INNOVATION Presumably you were resilient and pushed ahead to launch your product anyway, the pared down idea at its most basic and least inspiring ends up appealing to no one and dies an ignominious death. The business guys pat themselves on the back for not completely backing the original “big” idea, and proceed to continue advocating their support for innovation. Meanwhile, you look at the ashes of your grand idea and wonder how this came to pass – shrug and move on with your work.

While the innovation cycle doesn’t stop, the final outcome doesn’t have to be the same. You can make it different, despite what others think or say. All great innovators were once perceived as wishful thinkers, but they know better – just think Albert Einstein, Steve Jobs and Elon Musk.


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T HE ON I T A V O INN C YC L E I N P L AY “… an idea.” Your boss blinks in response. You explain your idea. Your voice starting out loud and confident gets pitchier by the minute. Boss interrupts, “There’re tons of those on the market already.” You take a deep breath. “The only similar idea I could find is from a small startup in South Africa. There are half a million SMEs in the market. It will be a new revenue stream for the company. Plus, if we make it freemium…” “We don’t give anything for free. But as long as you get the OK from other departments, I will manage things. We need it within six months though – we haven’t been meeting targets.”

POWER BOOST

across various social media platforms. “Nice concept. Is there a market for it?” “Well, we’ll be the first in the market. We can become an innovation leader and…” “You know there must be a reason why no one is doing it here. Maybe someone tried and failed? Listen, let’s do a focus group and hear what people think before we invest resources into the project.” You nod. Sometimes focus groups don’t know what they don’t know. But you take it as a win, nevertheless. Third stop, software development. The head listens while stroking his goatee. When you finish, there’s a short pause. “Anything is possible, under the right conditions, time and resources. We need to create a new version with features you need.” When he says resources, that’s code for budget and manpower. When you ask if he could develop it in six months, he sighs. “If I had 10 more developers or outsource it, maybe. But this is not in the budget – unless you scope it down and keep it simple. I could do something.” Finally, the dreaded Finance. You recognise the annoyance on their faces when you tell them your idea and that you are working to clear it with the CEO. “How much will it take to develop? What’s the projected revenue? Can we break even in three months?”

First stop, the CEO. The CEO’s office door has a sign that says “My door is always open.” It’s locked. Typical. His personal assistant is away from her desk, there’s no way to meet him now.

You went back to work out the numbers by reducing the features, adjusting to focus group feedback and planning the marketing launch. You show Finance your spreadsheet. They remain unconvinced and demand for the mark-up to be double its costs. It’s the policy, they say. That’s code for Take it or Leave it. You remember your boss’ words about a new revenue stream, so you meekly take it.

Next stop, marketing. You explain your idea to the head of marketing as he bounces up and down on his bosun, squeezing a stress ball and messaging

On a future day – long after your failed innovation, you knock on your boss’ door again, stick your head into the room and say, “Hey boss, I’ve got…”

You nod and get down to work.

About the Author The author worked in the innovation space for a large organisation for almost a decade. He no longer works there.

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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

SCS Event of the Year: Celebrating Tech and its Luminaries

From left: Jeffrey Tiong (Entrepreneur of the Year), Chak Kong Soon (Hall of Fame), Ritchie Ng (IT Youth), Minister for Communications and Information Mr S Iswaran, Sopnendu Mohanty (IT Leader of the Year), Loi Liang Yang (IT Youth), Tan Choon Boon (Professional of the Year), Howie Lau (SCS President)

T

he annual SCS Gala Dinner was held this year on 8 March at the Shangri-La Hotel. A key highlight of the Society’s calendar, the event was well-attended by over 900 infocomm and digital media professionals from both the public and private sectors. The Guest-of-Honour, Mr S Iswaran, Minister for Communications and Information, opened the evening by speaking on the importance of the three P’s – People, Partnership and Platform – in securing Singapore’s future in the digital age.

SCS President Howie Lau then addressed the members and guests, sharing the importance of keeping up with the fast pace of change in the industry. In his speech, he reaffirmed that the Society will continue renewing its efforts to better serve SCS members and the industry in the coming year. Six distinguished individuals were also honoured for their achievements at the IT Leader Awards 2019 held in conjunction with the Gala Dinner. Now in its 23rd iteration, the IT Leader Awards recognise outstanding individuals who have made their mark in the infocomm and digital media industry.


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

Blazing the Trail: IT Leader Awards 2019

The tech industry moves at breakneck speed – and so do the trailblazers leading the way to bring Singapore’s tech community to greater heights. This year, the IT Leader Awards 2019 recognised six winners who look set to continue forging new pathways to the future of tech.

IT LEADER OF THE YEAR

HALL OF FAME

Sopnendu Mohanty

Chak Kong Soon

Chief FinTech Officer, Monetary Authority of Singapore (MAS)

Managing Partner, Stream Global Pte Ltd

As the Chief FinTech Officer of MAS, Sopnendu heads the FinTech & Innovation Group, and is respected as a credible voice in the industry. Under his leadership, MAS initiated a wide range of policies and built infrastructure to support the innovation and adoption of smart technology by Singapore’s financial sector. This has propelled Singapore to its current status as a leading global FinTech hub, and the go-to destination for innovation in financial services.

Chak is a veteran of the tech industry with over 30 years of experience under his belt. His passion for building and nurturing organisations led him to start Stream Global Pte Ltd, with the vision of it being a local “Venture Catalyst”. Stream Global gives entrepreneurs hands-on business guidance by pairing them with experienced mentors, as well as partners with the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) and the National Research Foundation (NRF) to jointly invest in local and regional startups.

Working closely with industry players, Sopnendu has spearheaded development in various facets of the local FinTech ecosystem, including Singapore’s drive towards becoming a cashless society, and the shaping of the FinTech infrastructural landscape. He also serves on various advisory boards of multilateral agencies and universities as an expert on innovation, and is an advocate for inclusiveness and talent development. Key Achievements • Conceptualised and organised the Singapore FinTech Festival, the world’s largest FinTech event and a global platform for the FinTech community • Named Market Reformer of the Year by International Financial Law Review, Euromoney in 2018

On a personal level, Chak also places great emphasis on developing professionalism and skills of the local tech industry. He is an active member of various committees chaired by IMDA and SCS, and is also a Board Member of both the Institute of Systems Science at the National University of Singapore (NUSISS) and Employment and Employability Institute (e2i). Key Achievements • Founded Stream Global to help tech entrepreneurs realise their full potential • SCS Honorary Fellow, SCS President (2012–2014) • Young Professional of the Year (1999)


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PROFESSIONAL OF THE YEAR

ENTREPRENEUR OF THE YEAR

Tan Choon Boon

Jeffrey Tiong

Managing Director, DBS Bank (Group Technology and Operations)

Founder & CEO, PatSnap

Over the course of more than 19 years with DBS Bank, Choon Boon has played a key role in the bank’s technology transformation journey. He pioneered changes in areas such as automation and cloud computing, which enabled DBS to become more agile and resilient. In addition, these expanded capabilities also empower cost-effective business experimentation, and shorter lead times from ideation to commercialisation. Besides making contributions to DBS’s hardware, Choon Boon is also a firm believer in developing the bank’s “heartware” – employees. In the last three years, he has helped to reskill more than 200 DBS employees in DevOps, equipping them to take on new roles as DevOps engineers and developers. In his personal capacity, he actively grooms the next generation of technologists in the community, including his 10-year-old son, who is now learning Python. Key Achievements • Instrumental in bringing about changes in DBS that shrunk the bank’s data centre by 75% but increased data capacity by 10 times • Part of the team that designed and deployed DBS’s first internal cloud platform, which now supports more than 80% of the bank’s applications across all markets

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With just S$55,000 in funding from a student startup fund, Jeffrey founded PatSnap in 2007 after spotting a gap in the market for an easy-to-use patent search tool. However, he was unable to secure any further funding despite pitching to 20 different parties. A breakthrough moment came in 2010 when venture capital firm Accel-X and NUS Enterprise decided to invest in PatSnap’s Series A round. Today, PatSnap serves a client base of over 8,000 businesses, universities, startups, research organisations and law firms from more than 40 countries. PatSnap’s overall capital raised to date also comes up to more than US$100 million, from leading investors like Sequoia Capital China, Summit Partners, Vertex Ventures and Shunwei Capital. Key Achievements • Founded PatSnap as a fresh graduate, which now has over 800 employees and serves more than 8,000 clients • Won the EY Entrepreneur of the Year 2018 Singapore Award


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

IT YOUTH

IT YOUTH

Loi Liang Yang

Ritchie Ng

Security Sales Specialist, IBM

Chief Artificial Intelligence Officer, ensemblecap.ai

When Liang Yang was still a student in the School of Computing at the National University of Singapore, he visited top technology companies in Silicon Valley, including Google, IBM and Mastercard, as well as other successful technology startups. Inspired by how technology can make the world a better place, he honed his skills in the hope of championing technology and cybersecurity to the next generation of technology professionals.

Ritchie leads artificial intelligence at ensemblecap.ai, an AI hedge fund based in Singapore comprising quants and traders from J.P. Morgan. His work helps to power multimillion-dollar trades daily, with rigorous time-sensitive and fail-safe software testing. Additionally, as portfolio manager, he co-runs the fund’s systematic end-to-end deep learning portfolio with the Chief Investment Officer.

Tapping on YouTube – an ubiquitous digital platform with a ready audience, Liang Yang provides free technology and cybersecurity content to the public. He also took his sharing offline, speaking at local cybersecurity workshops to reach out to the community. Working with the team from the SCS IT Youth Council, Liang Yang continues to broaden his advocacy reach to IT professionals and undergraduate students in Singapore. Key Achievements • Won the Singapore Airlines App Challenge in 2015 as an undergraduate • Started a YouTube channel about cybersecurity, which to date has more than 350,000 views and 4,000 subscribers

A passionate advocate of deep learning, Ritchie is also actively teaching on multiple fronts – as an NVIDIA Deep Learning Institute instructor holding workshops at National University of Singapore (NUS) and across Southeast Asia; and as the creator of the Deep Learning Wizard series, online lessons that reach out to students around the world. He is also into deep learning research on drone and satellite imaging, as well as financial time series, often collaborating with researchers from NUS, Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms (MILA) and New York University (NYU), among others. Key Achievements • Built the entire AI tech stack at ensemblecap.ai with proprietary data and deep learning algorithms • Created Deep Learning Wizard, a series of courses and workshops with more than 3,000 students in over 100 countries


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

SCS Cloud Conference 2019: Seizing Opportunities in Cloud

A

s Singapore transitions to a digital economy, cloud computing will be a key enabler in boosting the competitiveness of the tech sector and other businesses. This was a core message in the keynote address given by Mr Zaqy Mohamad, Minister of State for National Development and Manpower, at the SCS Cloud Conference that took place on 24 January 2019 at the Amara Hotel. Mr Zaqy’s speech also emphasised the direction of Infocomm Media Development Authority’s (IMDA) Services & Digital Economy Technology Roadmap (SDE Tech Roadmap). “A priority of the roadmap is to move infocomm and media solution providers towards the cloud-native architecture,

SCS President Howie Lau subsequently added during his welcome address that cloud will continue to be the foundation for emerging technologies like artificial intelligence, Internet of Things and blockchain, which in turn are the new frontiers for enterprises as they innovate. However, Howie cautioned that cloud also brings challenges of its own, making it critical to understand these issues as cloud is adopted across various industries.

for professionals from other industries, as well as other segments of the tech industry. A printed copy was presented to Mr Zaqy and Howie. Introducing the book, Dr Anton said, “The second edition offers an update on how far cloud computing has progressed and where it’s heading. Particularly, it highlights three key challenges confronting cloud computing – security, standards and skills, which the Cloud Computing Chapter is actively working with GovTech, IMDA and Information Technology Standards Committee to tackle.”

In conjunction with the proceedings of the Conference, Cloud Computing Chapter President Dr Anton Ravindran launched the Cloud Body of Knowledge (BoK) Second Edition as a knowledge resource

Co-sponsored by IBM, Tata Communications, Singtel and e2i, the Cloud Conference 2019 attracted more than 150 participants, including many enterprise end users.

so they can be more cost effective and agile in addressing customers’ needs,” he said.


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Meet the New Data Centre Special Interest Group

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or technologies such as artificial intelligence, data analytics, cybersecurity, immersive media and Internet of Things to realise their full potential, an excellent data centre infrastructure is needed to support their continued development. While Singapore has proven to have performed strongly in this area so far – as indicated by various global

index and rankings, the momentum has to be sustained to be consistent with growth in other tech areas. The Data Centre (DC) Special Interest Group (SIG) was therefore launched to serve as a platform to bring the community of DC professionals from different industries together.

Goals of the DC SIG

SHARE EXPERT KNOWLEDGE

NETWORK

• Celebrate ideas and innovative technologies (e.g. power and cooling efficiencies) • Share best practices and know-how

• Connect with not just DC professionals in the industry, but also researchers and innovators from Institutes of Higher Learning and other regional Data Centre Alliances

EXPLORE INNOVATIONS AND TECHNOLOGIES • Look into engaging key technology stakeholders and research institutions

GROW THE DC PROFESSION • Educate and train talents to meet growing DC needs in the industry

• Tap on one another’s knowledge and experience

DC SIG Committee Members

Chairman Wong Tew Kiat ORM

Deputy Chair Paul Lee DC Connect

Secretary Carolynn Lock Hitachi Vantara

Committee Member Vincent Liew W Media

Committee Member Sam Ng STT GDC

Committee Member Fabian Ong Keppel DC

Committee Member Alwin Ng Emerges-Plus

Committee Member James Yip Ecoline Solar

Committee Member Benson Tan Singtel

Committee Member Dr Eric Cheung ITE College East


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THE IT SOCIETY / Issue 01/2019

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A Fresh Chapter for Enterprise Architecture

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fter two years as a Special Interest Group (SIG), the Enterprise Architecture (EA) SIG has been elevated to a Chapter. The new Chapter was inaugurated on 11 March 2019, in conjunction with an EA workshop themed “Enterprise Agility with Enterprise Architecture.” This elevation came in the wake of findings from research company Gartner that emphasised the evolving role of enterprise architects in organisations. In particular, enterprise architects have to develop more strategic capacities in order to drive better business outcomes in the future. To support local EA professionals in this transformation, the new Chapter’s immediate objectives include: • Accelerating EA adoption as part of the digital culture that will propel the realisation of a digital nation. • Equipping members with practical EA knowledge, skill sets and best practices to drive continuous digital transformation and reformation.

• Aligning with Infocomm Media Development Authority’s mission to increase demand for local EA talents in specialised jobs, i.e. Business Architects, Data Architects, Software Architects, Infrastructure Architects and Solution Architects as well as raising awareness locally.

The new committee reflects the ambitions of the EA Chapter, with members from diverse industries such as ATD Solution, Defence Science & Technology Agency, DXC Technology, Integrated Health Information Systems, Nanyang Technological University, Singapore Pools, SMRT and United Overseas Bank.

SCS EVENTS 2019 APR

29 MAY

17 JUL

19

Seminar on Robotics Process & Intelligent Automation

MAY

IDEAS Series: Smart Nation Connect

MAY

Tech3 Forum

9

23

Project Management Seminar

Enterprise Architecture Leadership Seminar

MAY

13-15 JUL

1-5

Certified Software Quality Analyst (CSQA) Programme

Certified Software Testing Professional (CSTP) Programme

The event listing provided above is correct at the time of printing. You are encouraged to visit the SCS website for updates and latest information about the events.


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GEEK SPEAK

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KonMari-ing Our Digital Life By

Sean Low

T

here are so many things to love about technology. At the touch of a button, we get things done quickly, simply, with zero complications and almost perfect consistency. No wonder Mr Akihiko Kondo decided to marry his AI powered virtual assistant.

files, videos, photos, posts, friends, cars, houses and every second of our attention; they intrude so deeply into our daily existence that they undermine our confidence and control.

But I can’t help wondering whether it will truly be a happily ever after for Mr Kondo. As a cynic, I lean towards believing that it is not all a bed of roses. As it is, our current interaction with digital products and services are strained most of the time. They are like needy partners or annoying relatives – desperate and demanding. Yet we can’t step away because we have a codependent relationship with them.

Our data and activities are constantly being mined and used. Never mind that we are not paid for contributing to the database or receive words of thanks, we are even kept in the dark – all the time. To top it off, constant notifications are affecting the quality of our communication with fellow human beings; and algorithms are dictating what we should see and choose. It sounds ironic but our roles have switched. Instead of being the controller, we’ve become the controlled.

By right, we should feel empowered by technology. But – NO! Our digital partners demand more algorithms, data,

Take email for example – it was used as an instant communication delivery tool to improve productivity in the 90s. Now –

20 years later, most of us are swarmed with an average of 200 to 500 emails a day. It has become humanly impossible to finish reading and responding to a day’s worth of emails within a day! We even need Marie Kondo to teach us how to manage our emails. In many ways, digital has made life more complex, rather than simpler – so much so that it no longer sparks joy as the technology proponents promised. We are increasingly left feeling depressed, diminished, frustrated and sometimes crazy. To bring back the joy we once had, we should perhaps perform a KonMari so that sparks of joy can flow back into our digital world once more.


Profile for SCS secretariat

SCS Magazine 2019 Issue 1  

SCS Magazine 2019 Issue 1  

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