PM Lee: Level up everyone. Share risks. Keep system open.

PM Lee: Level up everyone. Share risks. Keep system open.

In this excerpt, Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong spoke about globalisation and the income gap, and pledged to Singaporeans: You are not left alone to fend for yourselves when the going gets tough. 

TECHNOLOGY is transforming our lives.

Even tonight as I'm talking to you, more than a few of you are taking pictures, tweeting, Facebooking, Instagraming, real time.

But it's not just social media, we have 3-D printing, a machine which can print spare parts, models, toys, pistols; print body parts, organs; print things which can make a difference to our lives, medical devices. And we have been doing this research.

Less spectacular but equally far-reaching are robots, artificial intelligence, programs which can do smart things which previously only human beings could do, not just placing chips on a production line but skilled professional jobs: accounting, legal advice, radiology, reading X-rays.

In the old days, each one was a professional job, you needed a lawyer, highly paid, or a doctor or an accountant. Now the basic work can be delegated to a computer programme. Liberating for us, a bit scary if you were doing that job before. But that is competition.

Competition from technology, competition also from new emerging economies: China, India, Vietnam. China and India alone: one billion workers altogether; every year, millions of new graduates entering the workforce.

In the Mandarin speech earlier, I said there are seven million graduates from China; if you add in those from India, it's 10 million a year, all hungry, looking for work. Quite formidable.

One of our young professionals who took part in an Our Singapore Conversation (OSC) dialogue in Shanghai said: "I thought I could survive in China quite easily, but I was wrong." He has to scramble.

But fortunately, other OSC participants said that learning Mandarin in Singapore helped them in China. They may not have enjoyed it in school or PSLE (Primary School Leaving Examination), but now that they're working, they appreciate its value and they are grateful we forced them to do it.

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