June 21, 2024

Singapore’s Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) is teaming with AI Singapore and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research to launch the S$70 million ($52.3 million) National Multimodal LLM Program (NMLP).

The initiative, funded by Singapore’s National Research Foundation, will develop the country’s research and engineering capabilities in multi-modal large language (LLM) models. It will help to plug a critical gap because current LLM models are heavily Western originated. Singapore’s NMLP is designed to develop the Southeast Asian ecosystem and cater to the region’s diverse culture and languages. A base model with regional context that can understand Singapore’s and the region’s unique linguistic characteristics and multi-lingual environment, will be developed.

“This effort will enhance the nation’s capabilities in artificial intelligence (AI) research and innovation, leveraging high-performance computing resources by the National Supercomputing Centre. This program marks a significant leap forward in building the next bounds of AI capabilities for Singapore and the region,” the partners said in a statement.

The initiative is part of Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise 2025 plan. The two-year national-level initiative will also support Singapore’s national AI strategy 2.0, which was launched by deputy Prime Minister and Minister for Finance, Lawrence Wong, at the Singapore Conference for AI on Monday. The strategy aims to nurture Singapore as a global leader in AI solutions by 2030 by developing and deploying scalable, impactful AI solutions in key sectors of high value and relevance to citizens and businesses.

The NMLP aims to build skilled AI talent in Singapore by providing funding and access to high-end computing for local researchers and engineers; foster a thriving AI industry to develop LLM-enabled solutions for greater productivity and new opportunities for businesses; and enable Singapore to build a trusted environment in using AI, as the program will provide a deeper understanding of how LLMs work and further research AI governance.

“This national effort underscores Singapore’s commitment to become a global AI hub. Language is an essential enabler for collaboration. By investing in talent and investing in large language AI models for regional languages, we want to foster industry collaboration across borders and drive the next wave of AI innovation in Southeast Asia,” said Dr. Ong Chen Hui, assistant chief executive, Biztech Group, IMDA.

AI is one of the key topics of discussion across the various components of the ongoing Singapore Media Festival.

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