Doom or boom in the AI room?

Technologies have their uses in some sectors but not as much in others


THERE is presently a debate between artificial intelligence (AI) optimists (boomers) and pessimists (doomers).

According to Advance.Ai head of compliance Goh Ser Yoong, these terms emerged around the end of 2023, making them relatively new and unfamiliar to the public.

“AI boomers are individuals who are optimistic about the advent of AI and what it might achieve for us.

“Boomers are certain that AI can be used responsibly, and with proper elbow grease and developing ethical guidelines, it can revolutionise many industries,” he said.

On the other side of the debate are the doomers. As expected, they are much more pessimistic about AI and express greater concern about the risks and challenges that AI will introduce.

Addressing this divide, Goh discussed various aspects such as potential applications of AI in Malaysian society as well as its associated benefits and drawbacks.

“It is natural and is the way to go. Researches and publications at every level have been discussing AI for the past two years, from fresh graduates to senior IT leaders,” he told The Malaysian Reserve (TMR) on the subject of the approaching AI revolution.

An IT and cyber security professional, Goh has 15 years of experience in IT compliance and risk management.

Prior to his role as the head of compliance at Advance.Ai, he held positions at Standard Chartered Bank, British American Tobacco, and PWC, focusing on fraud, cyber security, information security, risk and compliance.

Goh notes the disturbing trend of AI being used to propagate misinformation

AI is not Black and White

AI has caught the attention of many industry leaders, especially those in the finance sector. Goh claimed to be on both sides of the debate. After all, he said, AI is not black and white, as technologies have their uses in

some sectors but not as much in others. Although not clear-cut, there were numerous concerns regarding the potential pitfalls of AI. Goh specifically highlighted privacy, expressing significant apprehension about AI’s capacity to infringe upon personal boundaries despite its advantages. Additionally, he noted the disturbing trend of AI being used to propagate misinformation, especially during election periods in several countries.

The intersection of politics and technology faced complexity with the rise of deep fakes. During the early stages of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, videos from a video game were falsely portrayed as real war footage, highlighting the ease of spreading misinformation.

The evolving capabilities of AI exacerbated concerns, enabling the rapid creation of convincing content from minimal input. Moreover, the detection of AI-generated inaccuracies proved challenging due to limited awareness of AI’s limitations.

Policymakers recognised the urgent need for strategies to combat misinformation, emphasising the importance of digital literacy and effective measures to mitigate the spread of deceptive content in the political arena.

The highlighted threat of misinformation is underscored by its recognition as the second biggest risk in a survey by the World Economic Forum (WEF).

Goh said with several countries heading into elections, the ongoing debates about global regulations, including the European Union (EU) AI Act, leave governance gaps and the potential for unchecked dissemination of misinformation.

“So naturally, I think it needs to be a two-way or a collaboration between government and the private sector to be able to enhance or to be able to tackle deep fakes and AI-generated videos,” he said.

Despite progress, the absence of regulations left room for unchecked dissemination of misinformation, highlighting the ongoing challenges in managing AI’s impact on society.

During the early stages of the Russian-Ukraine conflict, videos from a video game were falsely portrayed as real war footage – AFP

AI Implementation in Malaysia

In the Malaysian context, concerns regarding bias within AI systems are highlighted.

The importance of adapting AI strategies to Malaysian contexts is emphasised, suggesting the need for localised approaches derived from regional experiences.

Despite the perception of AI as unbiased, cultural nuances necessitate careful consideration in implementation.

Different countries have distinct cultural sensitivities that must be accounted for to ensure successful integration.

For instance, behaviours deemed acceptable in one culture may be inappropriate in another, requiring tailored approaches.

While Singapore is viewed as a leader in AI implementation in South-East Asia, Malaysia is taking initial steps, notably with Prime Minister (PM) Datuk Seri Anwar Ibrahim’s initiative for AI adoption.

However, caution is advised against over-reliance on Singaporean models, as local experimentation is crucial.

Goh also noted that while Singapore is headed in a good general direction, it should not be completely relied on for implementation of AI in certain sectors.

However, it is a good idea to try experimenting in Malaysian sandboxes derived from Singaporean results.

Goh lauded the “AI untuk Rakyat” programme as a commendable government initiative aimed at educating and training Malaysians in AI over three years.

He praised the programme’s easily understandable AI literacy content, available in multiple languages to cater to Malaysia’s multiculturalism.

Goh praised the programme as a positive advancement, aligning with his vision for Malaysia to embrace AI. In this vision, technology plays a crucial role in improving immigration, border security and airport convenience through efficient processes such as passport scanning and facial recognition.

He stressed the importance of ethical guidelines and inclusive collaboration in AI development to ensure responsible implementation across diverse sectors.

Goh noted that AI complements, rather than replaces, human involvement. He envisions AI facilitating routine tasks, thereby freeing up human capital for higher-level roles.

Technology plays a crucial role in improving airport convenience through efficient processes such as facial recognition – Bloomberg

By providing workers with upskilling and reskilling opportunities, AI can empower individuals to explore new career paths that match their interests and abilities. Goh emphasised that, rather than causing widespread job displacement, AI has the potential to create opportunities and enhance human creativity.

He underscored the importance of recognising the human element in AI implementation, emphasising its role as a safety net for tasks such as fraud detection and pattern recognition

Goh called for a balanced view of AI, encouraging both optimism and caution. While recognising the risks of AI misuse in areas like elections, he highlighted its potential to improve efficiency and advance fields such as healthcare.

He emphasised the need for careful use of AI, especially in handling repetitive tasks and tackling societal challenges. Essentially, Goh advocated for a thoughtful approach to integrating AI, acknowledging its potential while giving priority to ethical considerations and solutions centred around humans.

“I envisioned a future where AI augments human capabilities, fostering innovation and improving quality of life across various domains,” he added.

Advance.Ai provides digital transformation, fraud prevention and process automation solutions for enterprise clients.

It collaborates with around 500 clients in diverse sectors, such as banking and e-commerce. The company is active in nine markets, covering three continents.

As part of the larger Advance Intelligence Group (AIG), founded in 2016, it stood as one of Singapore’s largest tech start-ups.

AIG, with a presence across South and South-east Asia, Latin America and China, boasted support from reputable investors such as SoftBank Vision Fund 2, Warburg Pincus LLC and EDBI Pte Ltd.

  • This article first appeared in The Malaysian Reserve weekly print edition