Singapore, 27 April 2022 – Singapore Management University (SMU) and the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) have established a joint Human-Centered and Social Computing Lab to to build globally competitive research capacity for Singapore to address people-centered questions in human health and potential, and urban solutions and sustainability fields. This multidisciplinary effort will harness the complementary strengths of both organizations to conduct research that integrates social science and humanities disciplines with advances in computational intelligence and digital technologies. The joint lab will begin with two key research areas: computational social sciences and human-AI synergy with a view to benefiting policy makers and social agencies, and enabling the use of AI-based assistive technologies to human tasks. The capacities developed are also relevant for industry interested in market research and understanding consumer opinion, or for companies working in the field of health and social services, ranging from start-ups to multinationals.
With a total investment of S$10 million, the joint lab will build capacity and develop impactful research findings and tools that can be used to support Singapore’s public sector and industries. The joint lab will be led by co-directors Prof. Archan Misra, Vice Rector (Research), SMU, and Dr. Lim Keng Hui, Executive Director of the Social Sciences and Technology Horizontal Program Office of A* STAR (SST HTPO) and the Institute for High Performance Computing (IHPC).
The joint laboratory was launched by Mr. Peter Ho, Chairman of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC). The SSRC serves as a focal point for efforts to develop talent and strengthen research in the social sciences and humanities that benefits social and economic development in Singapore and the Asian region.
Professor Timothy Clark, SMU Provost, said: “The joint laboratory embodies both A*STAR’s and SMU’s aspiration to harness our mutual strengths to conduct research that integrates social science and humanities disciplines with advances in digital technologies and computer tools. I am confident that we will be able to make multiple impactful contributions to Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Enterprise (RIE) 2025 agenda, promoting goals such as social cohesion and successful aging in place.
Professor Andy Hor, Deputy General Manager (Research), A*STAR, said: “In the past, understanding human behavior helped companies design better interfaces for technology applications. Today, we want to understand or even anticipate human behavior by leveraging computational methods and AI for deeper insights at individual, collective and societal levels. The SMU-A*STAR joint laboratory combines our complementary research strengths to advance interdisciplinary R&D that can meet national priorities.
Advance research in computational social sciences and human-AI synergy
The first area of research, computational social sciences, will focus on people-centered questions of adaptability, resilience and social cohesion. This involves using computational methods to understand factors that might affect people’s adaptability and resilience to different situations and challenges; examine the extent to which digital content (e.g. news and social media) could lead to differing opinions and conflict between different groups of people; and exploring new ways to identify communities of humans with deep similarities or differences in latent values or worldviews.
The second area of human-AI synergy research will develop AI technologies that solve real-life problems in ways that are beyond the capabilities of AI or humans alone, and realize interactive and intelligent systems that can serve people better. A key idea in this pillar is to harness human-AI synergy to tackle real-world tasks by thoughtfully combining human capabilities with AI-enhanced technologies for situational understanding and assistance. Some of the initial work streams include developing human-aware AI to assist older adults with activities of daily living, automating wellness measures for aging in place, as well as providing interactive digital tools to engage older people and promote active living.
Other potential research areas for the joint lab include adapting to work change and redesigning work, effective learning and skills transfer, understanding social and psychological capital, and sustainable living in the context of evolving environmental and economic challenges.
Combining multidisciplinary research capabilities for impactful results
In computational social sciences, SMU’s expertise in social and behavioral sciences will be combined with A*STAR IHPC’s expertise in integrating social sciences with computational modeling to create new knowledge and innovative solutions. Both organizations will also leverage their collective strengths in social media analytics, social psychology, network analytics, natural language processing and AI, as well as extensive experience in researching various societal challenges such as as media bias, polarization and fake news on many online platforms. and regions.
For human-AI synergy, A*STAR’s Institute for Infocomm Research (I2R), IHPC and SMU will combine their expertise in AI, in particular natural language processing, computer vision and Cognitive AI, to develop more advanced AI algorithms for understanding human intent through natural verbal, visual and gestural cues. Additionally, their advanced computing expertise enables the execution of more efficient AI models on small mobile devices to enable real-time interaction and collaboration between humans and AI systems. This collective expertise in human-computer interaction will contribute to the design of human-computer interfaces to make their interactions more natural and efficient outside the laboratory.
A leading university in Asia, Singapore Management University (SMU) is internationally recognized for its world-class research and distinguished teaching. Founded in 2000, SMU’s mission is to generate cutting-edge research with global impact and produce broad-based, creative and entrepreneurial leaders for the knowledge economy. SMU education is known for its highly interactive, collaborative, and project-based approach to learning.
Home to more than 12,000 students in undergraduate, graduate and postgraduate professional research programs, SMU comprises six schools: School of Accountancy, Lee Kong Chian School of Business, School of Economics, School of Computing and Information Systems, Yong Pung How School of Law and School of Social Sciences. SMU offers a wide range of bachelor’s, master’s and doctoral degrees. programs of study in the disciplinary fields associated with the six schools, as well as in multidisciplinary combinations of these fields.
SMU emphasizes rigorous, high-impact, multidisciplinary and interdisciplinary research that addresses Asian issues of global significance. SMU faculty members collaborate with leading international researchers and universities around the world, as well as business and public sector partners. SMU’s Urban Campus is a modern facility located in the heart of downtown Singapore, fostering strategic connections with business, government and the wider community. www.smu.edu.sg
About the Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR)
The Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) is Singapore’s premier public sector R&D agency. Through open innovation, we collaborate with our partners in the public and private sectors for the benefit of the economy and society. As a science and technology organization, A*STAR bridges the gap between academia and industry. Our research creates economic growth and jobs for Singapore, and improves lives by improving societal outcomes in healthcare, urban living and sustainability. A*STAR plays a key role in developing scientific talent and leaders for the research community and industry at large. A*STAR’s R&D activities extend from biomedical sciences to physical sciences and engineering, with research entities mainly located in Biopolis and Fusionopolis. For current news, visit www.a-star.edu.sg.