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Digital Abundance: A World of Possibilities

24 July 2008 - Welcome Address By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, At The IDA Technology Foresight Seminar, NTUC Auditorium

Welcome Address By RADM(NS) Ronnie Tay, Chief Executive Officer, Infocomm Development Authority of Singapore, at The IDA Technology Foresight Seminar at NTUC Auditorium on 24 July 2008, Thursday at 9:00am

Good morning, Ladies and Gentlemen,

1. I am very glad to see that so many of you have taken a break from your busy schedules this morning to attend today’s seminar. I bid you a warm welcome to the inaugural IDA Technology Foresight Seminar. IDA has organised this seminar to bring together thought-leaders, industry players and researchers to look at the technology trends that will have a profound impact on the way we work, live and play, trends that will shape the way we use infocomm for economic and social development. I want to thank IDA’s Chief Technology Officer Dr Tan Geok Leng and his team from the Technology Group for putting together this Technology Foresight Seminar.

2. We often say that there is wisdom in hindsight, but perhaps we should also say that there is greater wisdom in foresight. For it takes deep knowledge and good judgement, and not a little courage, to look at current technological developments, sense enterprise demands and social needs, understand human thinking and behaviour, and discern how technology will impact and shape our lives in the future.

3. At IDA, we believe that it is important to have a healthy exchange of knowledge and ideas so that this can in turn inspire even more ideas and innovation. This Technology Foresight Seminar provides an excellent opportunity to promote such an exchange of knowledge and ideas. Another key platform to have such an exchange is of course the Distinguished Infocomm Speaker or DIS series, where IDA partners industry corporations to feature their top leaders in presentations and discussions with a largely business audience.

4. To further promote such exchanges, I am pleased to share with you that next week, IDA will be launching another exciting speaker series for learning and discussion. Called Infocomm Live!, this new series will provide a speaking platform for next generation infocomm companies and thought-leaders, both local and foreign, to share their insights and experiences on developments in areas such as innovation, entrepreneurship and emerging infocomm trends and technologies like Web 2.0. Through such a platform, we hope to especially engage our younger entrepreneurs, professionals, researchers and students, and inspire them to further contribute to our infocomm eco-system. We will share more details of this new series over the next few days.

Digital Abundance: A Future of Unlimited Possibilities

5. It is important for all of us to keep abreast of developments in the ever changing infocomm world and see how we can seize the opportunities to grow our business, our economy and even shape the future we desire. For this augural Technology Foresight Seminar today, we want to explore Digital Abundance and its importance in the future.  What is Digital Abundance, one may ask? Imagine a future where having high-performance computing and unlimited bandwidth is the norm. Imagine a future where such resources are pervasive and can be accessed anywhere, anytime. The possibilities of what you can do living in such a future of Digital Abundance are indeed unlimited.

6.  And that exciting future is not too far away. Today, we are already experiencing a high level of mobility and connectivity. With the Wireless@SG initiative, more than 7,200 hotspots have been set up, allowing us to remain connected or access the Internet while on the move. In schools, students can take learning beyond the classroom with the use of tablet PCs as their personalised learning platform. In healthcare, Electrocardiogram or ECG readings of patients in ambulances can potentially be transmitted to the hospital’s A&E Department even while they are being rushed there. At sea, ships can enjoy low-cost, high-bandwidth and secure wireless mobile broadband access while in our port waters. In a few short years, we in Singapore can look forward to ultra-high speed wired broadband access nationwide, under our Next Generation National Broadband Network project.

7. Together with ultra-high speed networks, advances in high-performance computing and innovations now being developed in laboratories around the world will usher in the era of Digital Abundance. For example, the widespread use of holographic projections for the “virtually there effect” may replace a significant proportion of business travel. With sufficient computational resources and clever speech processing algorithms, instantaneous and automatic language translations can tear down language barriers between communities in a more connected world. Devices that enable us to automatically record and index everything we see, hear and do, coupled with powerful search engines, can help us to never forget anything anymore.

Visionaries for the Future

8. And this morning, to help us see into the future, we are pleased and honoured to have with us Mr Mike Liebhold from the Institute for the Future, a Silicon Valley-based think tank. The Institute for the Future has about 40 years of forecasting experience and it has helped organisations from the US government and various economic sectors to scan emerging trends and understand the impact of such trends. We want to express our sincere appreciation to Mr Liebhold for coming all the way from California to share with us his views on Digital Abundance. We look forward to listening to him.

9. He will be joined by representatives from the research institutes, infocomm industry as well as the government and healthcare sectors for three panel discussions. The discussions will explore the critical enablers for Digital Abundance, and their implications for user organisations as well as the Singapore economy and society.

10. The capacity to envision the future and its unlimited possibilities is the catalyst to meaningful change. With an interesting topic like Digital Abundance and with such a gathering of distinguished speakers and panelists, I am sure we can all look forward to a stimulating and thought-provoking discussion this morning. On that note, I wish one and all an enjoyable and fruitful seminar. Thank you.