Singapore must stay ahead of the game amid tech advances in warfare: Teo Chee Hean

Singapore must stay ahead of the game amid tech advances in warfare: Teo Chee Hean

Technology is shaping warfare and security globally and Singapore must stay on top of its game, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean said on Thursday (Jul 27). Ahmad Khan reports.

SINGAPORE: Technology is shaping warfare and security globally and Singapore must stay on top of its game, Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean said on Thursday (Jul 27).

In his keynote address on the second day of the Singapore Defence Technology Summit, Mr Teo shared how some societies are "grappling with the rapid advance of technology", such as in artificial intelligence.

Mr Teo said: "We all want to be ahead of the game, and not be left behind. 

"But in this headlong rush, we do also need to reflect on how well, and how wisely we are making use of technology, and whether we are prepared to deal with the collateral consequences of the proliferation of these new technologies."

Singapore must stay ahead of the game amidst tech advances in warfare: Teo Chee Hean
Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean speaking in a keynote address on the second day of the Singapore Defence Technology Summit.

He said advances in technology mean militaries around the world are also seeing "new forms of asymmetrical or conventional warfare enabled by cyberspace".

"It is not just the major powers that have the ability to attack enterprise or cyber-physical systems," Mr Teo added.

"These methods allow small-scale actors to circumvent military defences to launch disproportionately damaging non-conventional attacks on much stronger adversaries."

Cyber-attacks targeting government institutes and the spread of fake news can catalyse information warfare.

"Greater connectivity offers society many benefits. However, with each new smart device on the network, we open up more potential vulnerabilities and a much larger surface area for attack," the senior minister said.

READ: World needs to reshape militaries to deal with more non-conventional threats: Ng Eng Hen

Mr Teo also highlighted the need for the ethical use of Artificial Intelligence. In January this year, Singapore became the first country in Asia to launch a framework on how AI can be used ethically and responsibly.

The summit, organised by Defence Science and Technology Agency, saw a panel discussion on various aspects of AI, such as whether AI can make soldiers smarter and scenarios of how AI can be used when critical infrastructure is compromised. 

There was also a discussion on whether AI might make soldiers obsolete. The consensus was that soldiers are still needed, although they will play different roles from before.

Singapore must stay ahead of the game amidst tech advances in warfare: Teo Chee Hean (1)
Senior Minister and Coordinating Minister for National Security Teo Chee Hean speaking in a keynote address on the second day of the Singapore Defence Technology Summit.

One of the panellists, Amir Husain, founder and CEO of SparkCognition, said: "AI will take on a huge amount of the burden. 

"I think that the armed forces of the future will be smaller given the current threat environment unless something drastic changes. 

"What we use the soldiers for will be different, with the amount of technology that's going in the armed services already and the effect it can have. It speaks to the need to change the nature of our training."

Representatives from various defence ministries, such as Japan and the US, will be involved in Friday's panel discussions.

Source: CNA/nh

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