06 December 2019

Robotics and AI law think tank launches in Singapore

Government minister opens research unit operated by city state's national university

A new Singapore robotics and artificial intelligence (AI) legal research facility was officially opened in Singapore today (5 December). The Centre for Technology, Robotics, Artificial Intelligence & the Law (TRAIL) has been set up by the National University of Singapore Faculty of Law (NUS Law).

Its remit is ‘to research into legal, ethical, policy, philosophical and regulatory questions associated with the use and development of information technology (IT), artificial intelligence (AI), data analytics and robotics in the practice of law’.

Government minister

It was opened by Edwin Tong, senior minister of state for law and health, at the 8th Asian Privacy Scholars Network (APSN) Conference. He said: ‘The launch of TRAIL today signifies the commitment of Asia’s top law school to research excellence, and I am confident that the centre can work with different partners locally and globally to produce valuable legal solutions and policies which benefit society.’

Associate Professor Daniel Seng, Director of TRAIL, added: “Never before has so many facets of technology, ranging from robotics to bioinformatics to AI, promised to affect society so profoundly... Ultimately, we want to create a fairer and more responsive legal system for the new technology era.”

Research remit

The centre is currently conducting research into the regulation and deployment of AI as well as analysing data protection issues from the perspectives of computer science and law. 

The legal and ethical issues surrounding biotechnology, including medical ethics, are also due to be examined.

Co-operation agreements

The Centre has signed co-operation agreements with Singapore’s Centre for Media and Communications Law as well as the Intellectual Property Research Institute of Australia at the Melbourne Law School, and the Law and Technology Centre at the University of Hong Kong.

The launch comes as part of an ongoing drive by Singapore to establish itself as a leading global centre for legal technology.

However, the city state’s recent introduction of a ‘fake news’ law has been met with criticism by civil rights groups.

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