SINGAPORE (Aug 6): Singapore’s success as a developed economy can be traced to its ability to leverage different economic drivers over the years. From a regional trading port, the country went into light manufacturing, and then developed one of the world’s largest petrochemical hubs on Jurong Island. It subsequently morphed into a regional financial hub, offering a multitude of banking and financial services. All of these, in one way or another, are still supporting the country’s growth.

But Singapore’s next economic driver is not likely to come in the form of another industry. Rather, it will be the widespread adoption of disruptive technologies — such as artificial intelligence, robots, additive manufacturing and the Internet of Things — that will drive growth.

“These developments have the characteristics of what are called general purpose technologies. The invention of the steam engine and electrification are earlier examples of GPT. Because there is scope for widespread adoption over a whole range of economic activities, [these technologies] have the potential to serve as Singapore’s new economic drivers,” says Hoon Hian Teck, professor of economics and associate dean (faculty matters and research) at Singapore Management University.

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