Singapore Management University (SMU) and Agency for Science, Technology and Research (A*STAR) established a joint Human-Centered and Social Computing Lab to build competitive research capabilities globally for Singapore to address people-centered issues in the human health and potential, and areas of urban solutions and sustainability.
The multidisciplinary effort will leverage 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 start with two key research areas: computational social sciences and human-AI synergy to benefit policy makers and social agencies and enable the use of AI-based assistive technologies for human tasks. The capacities developed are also relevant for industries interested in market research and understanding consumer opinion, or companies working in the field of health and social services, ranging from start-ups to multinationals.
With a total investment of SG$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 the Chairman of the Social Science Research Council (SSRC) which serves as a focal point for efforts to develop talent and strengthen social science and humanities research that benefits social and economic development in Singapore and in the Asian region.
The SMU Provost said the joint lab embodies both A*STAR 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. The hope is to make multiple impactful contributions to Singapore’s Research, Innovation and Entrepreneurship (RIE) 2025 agenda, promoting goals such as social cohesion and successful aging in place.
A*STAR’s Deputy General Manager (Research) said the joint SMU-A*STAR laboratory combines the complementary research strengths of the two institutions to advance interdisciplinary R&D that can meet national priorities.
Advancing Computational Social Science Research and Human-AI Synergy
The first area of research, computational social sciences, will focus on people-centered questions of adaptability, resilience and social cohesion. It involves using computational methods to understand factors that may 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.
The two 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 sites. 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 AI cognitive, to develop more advanced AI algorithms for human intent. understanding 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.