If you take a look at the home screen of your smartphone, chances are most – if not all – of the apps installed leverage cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI) technologies in one way or another.

Cloud computing is the “on-demand delivery of IT resources, such as computing power, storage, and databases, over the Internet”. Data is then stored – or in the case of AI projects, processed – in the cloud and turned into insights which are then sent back to the user for action.

From your favourite social media apps delivering personalised newsfeeds to ride-hailing services automatically matching you with the nearest drivers available, we benefit from the convenience that cloud computing and AI bring to our lives on a daily basis. They often work behind the scenes, as an invisible force that makes our everyday tasks more efficient and productive.

With cloud computing as a key democratiser for AI-enabled innovation, we can expect to see an increase in the multitude of use cases across industries as more companies jump on the bandwagon. In fact, the global investment in AI is projected to more than double from US$50.1 billion in 2020 to over US$110 billion in 2024*.

Exciting times ahead for cloud and AI

Joshua Wong, SG:D Scholar

One start-up that is combining the powers of cloud and AI to deliver ready-made solutions for businesses is AI firm Hypotenuse, co-founded by Joshua Wong, a 2015 scholarship recipient of the National Infocomm Scholarship (precursor to the Singapore Digital (SG:D) Scholarship).

Hypotenuse creates AI models that perform image recognition and combines them with Natural Language Processing (NLP) to generate copywriting for e-commerce websites. The content can be created in bulk, localised to specific markets, and even optimised for search engine rankings.

“I find cloud and AI to be the most exciting fields in this decade, and we are hitting an inflexion point,” Joshua said. “For the first time, we have AI models that can learn to perform fundamental tasks, such as distinguishing between images or generating text, to a level that exceeds human performance.”

Currently also the Chief Executive Officer at Hypotenuse, Joshua was also accepted into YCombinator, a highly-coveted seed start-up accelerator in the US. He shared that what he found extremely rewarding about working in the field of AI was the rapid pace of growth. “Compared to other aspects of technology, where techniques developed within the last few years, or even decades, AI and cloud are still considered relatively cutting-edge, AI algorithms can be deemed outdated within just six months! This necessitates constant learning and problem-solving, which I really enjoy.”

He added, “Besides technical expertise, I also developed the flexibility to think on my feet, and the creativity to apply technology in solving everyday pain points in novel ways.”

The learning journey is filled with opportunities

Under the SG:D Scholarship, recipients like Joshua were able to choose any organisation^ for his internships and work attachments if the applied role was tech or media-related. This flexibility allows scholars the opportunity to kickstart their journey in tech or media, chart their own career path while pursuing their passions.

Over the course of his scholarship, Joshua completed internships and stints at Silicon Valley, in both start-ups and big technology companies.

“The lessons I have learnt during my attachments were invaluable, and they compounded my growth over time – whether in the classroom or in the workplace,” Joshua said, adding that he also received funding support beyond the school curriculum to deepen his skill sets of interest.

In addition, the scholarship provided him with access to a strong community of past scholarship recipients and industry experts in related fields. Through workshops and networking events, Joshua befriended fellow aspiring “techies” who are at different stages of their journey. “I benefited immensely from a supportive network that has been helpful in many ways, from offering advice on applications to understanding the work environment in specific tech companies that they've worked at,” he said.

Embark on your tech adventure today

In Singapore, the Information and Communications sector continues to be a bright spot, growing 2.1% in 2020, with the industry in urgent need of talent. The SG:D Scholarship is one of the talent initiatives by the Infocomm Media Development Authority (IMDA) to build a strong Singaporean core in the tech and media industries, and groom Singapore’s next generation of tech and media leaders.

For those who are keen on taking up tech-related roles, Joshua said his main advice would be to “focus on learning the actual work that you are passionate about”. He explained, “I find that the biggest requirement in this field isn't innate talent, good grades or even a magical skill set. Rather, it's the curiosity to learn and the tenacity to stick with it.”

It is also important to keep in mind that the digital realm is a new, dynamic place that is evolving quickly. “We have to be prepared to challenge our assumptions often, so the mindset to keep learning goes a long way,” he emphasised.

Learn more about SG:D Scholarship HERE

*International Data Corporation (IDC). (2020, August 25). Worldwide Spending on Artificial Intelligence Is Expected to Double in Four Years, Reaching $110 Billion in 2024, According to New IDC Spending Guide. IDC. Retrieved 2021, from https://www.idc.com/getdoc.jsp?containerId=prUS46794720.

^Subjected to IMDA’s approval

Note: This article was first published on scs.org.sg (3 Nov 2021)