• We often get asked the strangest questions and requests. Here are some thought on previous discussions.
• We will add more in the near future.
Often we are asked about the future of Artifuical Intelligence especially as our consultant Ramin Ahmadi expertise is in this sector of information technology.
Story by Julian Wong - Co Founder Lets All Think Rob
Android. It's a term that many people easily recognise, thanks largely to the explosion of blockbuster sci-fi movies in the 70's that captured our collective imaginations worldwide.
On the one hand there was Star Wars (good androids!) and on the other there was Alien (bad, bad android!).
But let's start at the beginning. The term 'android' isn't particularly new - the Oxford English Dictionary traces its origin to as far back as 1863 in a US patent pertaining to human-like toy automatons. Soon, the word began to appear in literature in different parts of the world.
The difference between a robot and android may be academic but its also significant - both are of mechanical and/or electronic construction but a robot can come in many shapes and sizes while an android is generally built to resemble a human in looks and function.
(Note: The word 'android' originates from Greek and translates into 'likeness of man'.)
Although 'android' is generally used to describe both the humanoid male and female forms, the correct term for a female android is actually gynoid. Hence, when combined, we also have the more common androgynous which means neither male or female (or both).
Among the numerous countries that research, develop, and build androids, Japan have been pushing the envelope with the introduction of the first 'actroid' in 2003. These are androids with a very strong human likeness, and very life-like in physical behaviour including the ability to blink, speak, breathe, and respond to touch.
Although the androids in the videos are highly impressive from a techincal angle, they're still rather imperfect from a human perspective but it's a tantalising glimpse into the future.
If we remember not long ago that computers less powerful than your new smartphone took up the storage space of an entire room and extrapolate that to the development of androids, we can easily predict a future society in which man and android interact seamlessly.
How would you feel about androids living and working among you, serving you in restaurants, washing your cars, and looking after your children? Can a mechanical being, regardless of how intelligently programmed, ever be â€śequalâ€ť to flesh and blood?
Could you see yourself working in a company alongside other androids? Could the boss be an android? Would you invite them home for dinner or go to the pub with them?
Pop culture and movies, again, provides a few though-provoking scenarios. In the movie 'Bicentennial Man', an android (played by Robin Williams) grows beyond his initial limited programming into a fully sentient being with the help of his human master. In time, he eventually falls in love with a woman, and she in turn with him. Thus, the defining line between man and android is going to be completely erased in the future.
And then theres A.I: Artificial Intelligence by Steven Speilberg, which is a shade rather more depressing from the human point of view - the movie end 2,000 years into the future where mankind is completely extinct and manâ€™s only footprint in history is the thriving civilization of androids that he helped developed and built two millennia prior.
In either case, if we look at the science and not just the science-fiction, its very likely that our future society (at some point) is going to include androids that possess a high degree of artificial intelligence. Possibly even sentient. How will we embrace the android revolution?
techs and VCs hungry for a competitive edge are now looking Eastward
to greener pastures. Singapore, a South East Asian island city-state
only half the size of New York City, is known as one of the Four
Asian Tigers alongside Hong Kong, Taiwan and South Korea for being
the economic powerhouses and international financial hubs of Asia.
With an eye to stay ahead of its neighbors, the Singapore government is looking to transform Singapore into the Silicon Valley of the East. However, will this humble yet overachieving country ever be able to contend the real Valley in San Francisco Bay Area, home to the big boys in technology and thousands of other innovative start-ups? Looking at what Singapore has to offer, it may just be the right place for investors looking to overcome the brain drain and stiff competition in the Valley. Point in case, Klout, a San Francisco-based social media company had its early roots planted in Singapore when founder, Joe Fernandez recruited a team of local developers to build the first version of the website (Source: Business Insider).
Though in its infancy stages, there is a fast growing start-up scene in Singapore - greatly driven by the private sectors and government to attract foreign investors and talent. Start-Up@Singapore (S@S) is one such initiative with the objective of nudging forward start-ups in spirit of entrepreneurship. It has a strong track record of 60 successful start-ups from local and foreign countries such as Australia Canada, Norway, Pakistan, Russia, Greece, the Philippines and Indonesia; some of these businesses have since made a name for themselves in the world. The participating entrepreneurs are also provided with resources - seminars, training aids, teambuilding programs, networking events and mentorship opportunities, creating a stimulating and conducive environment for start-ups of any scale.
Singapore presently holds the title of having the 'Best Investment Climate' in the world, accordingly to Business Environment Risk Intelligence (BERI) a U.S. based risk analysis and consulting firm that forecasts political and business environments in over 140 countries. Singapore scored the highest (79 points) for its Profit Opportunity Recommendation (POR) based on the mean average of combined measures, namely the Operations Risk Index (ORI), Political Risk Index (PRI) and Remittance and Repatriation Factor (R Factor). Switzerland claims second place on the list at 77, while U.S. and China currently share the same score of 60 in 14th and 15th placing (Source: Economic Development Board).
Singapore, a democratic, holds much appeal to foreign investors who prioritize economic and political stability. Singapore's zero-tolerance policy towards corruption and pro-transparency stance gave the country its reputation as Asiaâ€™s least corrupt country and ranked 7th in the world's top ten cleanest by Transparency International. Moreover, Singaporeâ€™s economy achieved an estimated 14.8% in GDP growth for fiscal year 2010, demonstrating its ability to be resilient and to quickly recovery from the global financial crisis (Source: SingStat).
Registering or incorporating a business in Singapore is straight forward â€“ simply submit an online application to the Accounting and Corporate Regulatory Authority(ACRA) through BizFile,- electronic filing and information retrieval system. Registration fee is less than SGD 400, with minimum paid-up capital of SGD 1 and no required amount of authorized capital. The Singapore Companies Act allows the company to be 100% foreign-owned and incorporated with a single director, on the condition that at least of one the directors must hold Singapore citizenship, PR, an Entrepreneur Pass (EntrePass) or Employment Pass. A SGD 50,000 investment is required when applying for an EntrePass to budget for the startup expenses and self-support during the initial stages. Hence, foreign investors may either opt to apply for the abovementioned pass or approach professional service providers for their nominee director services. The only other requirement is that a local company secretary be appointed to handle company regulatory matters.
All in all, it only takes a day to incorporate a business in Singapore even for a foreign investor, provided all company details including registered address and brief description of business activities, identification documents for proposed directors and shareholders, incorporation documents such as the Memorandum and Article of Association (MAA) complete with signature and reservation on the company name have been submitted. Delay in the incorporation process for up to 2 weeks may occur in some exceptional cases if the Company Registrar does not approve the company name or requests for additional information on foreign directors. For reference, refer to these two very detailed guides - GuideMeSingapore and SingaporeSetup.
In addition, Singapore incurs one of the lowest tax rates in South East Asia - 8.5% for profits between SGD 100,001 to SGD 300,000 and flat 17% in corporate tax for revenue exceeding SGD 300,000. Personal income tax is solely based on the income earned at the source principle, thus any income obtained from sources based outside Singapore is not taxable. Taking the pro-business front, Singapore offers a tax exemption scheme for start-up companies, with no taxable income for the first $100,000 profit if the incorporation meets qualifying conditions (1) at most 20 individual shareholders and (2) at least one shareholder is an individual with a minimum 10% shareholding. A partial tax exemption of 4.25% is also available for non-qualifying startups (Source: Inland Revenue Authority of Singapore). Using a single-tier corporate income tax system, tax payable is also final and will not subject shareholdersâ€™ dividends to further taxation.
Whether it is the world-class infrastructure, high potential capital or non-red tape regulations, Singapore has strong indications of emerging as the next "Valley of the East", especially after getting relatively high ratings on the three out of six ecosystem criteria proposed by Benjamin Joffe to determine which Asian country has the best chance to take the title of "next Silicon Valley" (Source: Tech Crunch). The only disadvantage that Singapore has is a small population size, probably the reason for a smaller market size as well. However, the Singapore Economic Development Board (EDB) considers the labor quality to be superior, as the workforce has been given recognition for being among the top 10 'most motivated' and 'best skilled' in Asia, besides topping the "best labour-employer relations" category in Asia (Source: Economic Development Board). More importantly, business legislation in Singapore was highlighted to have the best intellectual property protection in Asia and is ranked 2nd in the world.
Lastly, would expatriates enjoy living or working in Singapore? Well, Jim Rogers who moved to Singapore in 2007 has no complains, and so are fellow expatriates such as himself are testifying. He personally found Singapore to have many positive attributes, given the high standards for education, healthcare and excellence (Source: GuideMeSingapore). Why, no wonder IT giants like Microsoft and Google already have a presence there...
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