Charting the Dragon's ascent: Revolutionary investment solutions bring new questions

7 February 2024 | Applicable law: Hong Kong, Japan, Singapore | 4 minute read

In the first part of our discussion about key developments across Asia in 2024, we looked at investment trends. Here we pick up the thread with a focus on the impact of AI.

With Asia leading in generative AI investments, a global gathering was organized by the World Intellectual Property Organization (WIPO) in September 2023 highlighting the need for responsible regulation that supports creativity while protecting IP rights in the age of AI.

'AI is revolutionizing various sectors, raising new questions relating to intellectual property,' shares Jonathan Kok, a Singapore-based partner in Withers' technology and intellectual property team and co-head of Withers Tech in Asia. 'AI's journey ahead is expected to be marked by the development of robust frameworks and guidelines.'  

The integration of AI in sectors like healthcare, finance, and urban development has been remarkable. In healthcare for instance, AI is revolutionizing diagnostics and patient care, necessitating the development of ethical guidelines and patient data protection protocols.

Jonathan further emphasized: 'As AI becomes increasingly integrated into various sectors, the challenge lies in developing legal frameworks and establishing clear guidelines that protect intellectual property while fostering innovation. Singapore's Model AI Governance Framework, for instance, has been continually evolving since its launch in 2019.'

In a significant advancement, Singapore introduced a revised Model AI Governance Framework in 2024 specifically to address the use of generative AI in commerce. This latest framework, which extends beyond the original 2020 version which focused on traditional AI, encompasses nine critical dimensions of AI governance, including accountability, security, and robustness in testing and assurance. 'Striking a balance, the updated framework aims to navigate moral and ethical issues associated with the use of generative AI, fostering a trustworthy and responsible AI implementation landscape while encouraging innovation and exploration in the commercial potential of generative AI,' explained Jonathan. 

Environmental sustainability is another area where AI is making significant strides. AI-driven solutions are optimizing resource management and reducing carbon footprints, especially in smart cities and agriculture.

Asia is positioned as a key market for AI and technology start-ups.

'With governmental support for developing infrastructure-wide solutions and the widespread adoption of digital technologies, Asia is positioned as a key market for AI and technology start-ups,'  observes Joel Shen, a Singapore-based partner in Withers' corporate team, head of the firm's Indonesia practice and co-head of Withers Tech in Asia. This includes a focus on sectors like ESG tech, green fintech and Web3 which are expected to see growing adoption across Asia. 

'Technology start-ups in Asia, particularly in Indonesia, are also catalyzing a green tech revolution that has global implications. Across the region, the synergy between technological innovation and sustainable development is creating unparalleled investment opportunities,' he adds, highlighting the growth dynamics in the sector. 

Joel also predicts, 'There will likely be a surge in tech start-ups focusing on AI-driven healthcare and financial services, spurred by the pandemic's long-term impact and the need for more resilient systems.'

Private capital driving innovation

In 2024, AI is also stimulating new investments from private capital. Private capital is playing a significant role in driving innovation in sectors such as AI and machine learning. 

The evolving and often inconsistent approaches to AI regulation globally are influencing investment decisions. 

'Following the heightened public interest in AI, notably influenced by technologies like ChatGPT in early 2023, investors and regulators have turned their focus towards more innovative and practical applications of AI across various sectors,' says Hon Yong Sheng, a Singapore based partner in Withers' private client and tax team.

'The evolving and often inconsistent approaches to AI regulation globally are influencing investment decisions , with some regions prioritizing regulation and others focusing on industry growth, thus impacting the investment landscape. This shift will pose new challenges in estate planning, tax compliance, and cross-border wealth management.'

Alex Chung, a Hong Kong-based partner in Withers' private client and tax team foresees a trend towards more sophisticated tax planning strategies, driven by the increasing international mobility of high-net-worth individuals. 'Cross-border tax compliance and reporting will become even more complex, requiring advanced expertise in international tax law,' Alex adds. 'With a fast-changing M&A landscape and ongoing global discussions around wealth taxes and tax transparency, wealthy individuals and families in Asia are expected to be more proactive in both their investment and tax planning strategies.'

Read the previous part (Part 1) here. 

Read the next part (Part 3) here. 

Should you wish to delve deeper into any of the points raised in this series or seek the benefit of our expertise, please reach out to your designated contact at Withers or any of the lawyers listed below. 

This document (and any information accessed through links in this document) is provided for information purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. Professional legal advice should be obtained before taking or refraining from any action as a result of the contents of this document.


Related experience

As a full-service law firm, we are able to provide advice and information about a wide range of other issues. Here are some related areas.

Article series

Join the club

We have lots more news and information that you'll find informative and useful. Let us know what you're interested in and we'll keep you up to date on the issues that matter to you.