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Minister of Artificial Intelligence delivers talk on AI at DPC event

The Dubai Press Club (DPC) hosted a talk on artificial intelligence (AI) by Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence His Excellency Omar Sultan Al-Olama. The Minister spoke about the UAE’s ambitious AI strategy and the various technological, social and legislative aspects of the application of AI technologies across sectors. Speaking at the event held at the DPC offices, Sultan Al-Olama emphasised the substantial benefits that investments in AI will bring.

Maitha Buhumaid, Acting Director of DPC said that the event was part of DPC’s objective of hosting discussions that generate new insights and perspectives on issues of local and regional interest. She expressed her happiness at hosting His Excellency Al-Olama for his first media appearance since being appointed as Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence by Vice President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid Al Maktoum. The new role was created as part of the UAE’s Artificial Intelligence strategy.

Buhumaid said that AI was selected as a topic of discussion as part of DPC’s efforts to facilitate knowledge sharing on vital issues that will drive our future. “The UAE has ambitious plans to use AI tools and techniques to develop new sectors and provide new opportunities to enhance the UAE’s role in shaping the future of the world. The talk was organised to throw light on the impact of this unique technology and the opportunities and challenges it presents,” Buhumaid said.

Al-Olama said that the UAE is a key player in the development of the AI landscape, adding that developments in the sector will impact all areas of life. He also said that though the world today considers oil as a key driver of the global economy, as technological development and the fourth industrial revolution gather pace, AI will emerge as the main engine for development and progress.

AI will lead to an increase in people’s income and quality of life through services and solutions that improve productivity, cost effectiveness and supply chain efficiencies. These improvements will stimulate economic growth in the same way that the digital economy did.

The Minister said the UAE is using AI to create a new type of economy. Speaking about applications in the field of solar power, he said that AI will offer innovative solutions for the distribution and storage of solar energy. In healthcare, smart robots will be able to diagnose diseases with 90% accuracy, which exceeds the capacity of the smartest doctor in the world. Such developments will help human beings enhance their health and live longer. The Minister also said that AI will give governments the ability to anticipate future challenges. Al-Olama said that that due to the vision of the UAE leadership, the country is a pioneer in developing a national AI strategy. The UAE is developing new legislation and plans to attract talent in the AI sector as part of its strategy to establish leadership in the AI field by 2030.

Drawing a parallel between the fields of education and AI, the Minister said proficiency in AI will determine the ability of nations to be global leaders, adding that advancements in this sector will help usher in a better future for humanity. His Excellency said that the Ministry of Higher Education is working on creating a generation that is able to produce AI rather than just use it, by introducing educational programmes and curricula that facilitate AI learning at an early stage.

Addressing the concerns raised by scientists such as Stephen Hawking and Elon Musk, who believe that the development of AI could lead to the destruction of humanity by diminishing the value of human beings, the Minister said these perspectives talk about risks far in the future. However, he said that the rapid development of AI could pose certain significant risks. The main objective of creating a Ministry dedicated to AI is to draft a legislative framework that can ensure the proper development of the sector.

He also said that the UAE uses AI to analyse data and help understand the future of our planet. Scientists need many years to analyse 10 GB of data while robots can do it in a few seconds, he noted.

On the issue of potential job losses that the development of AI could lead to, the Minister said that technological development will create new kinds of jobs. He also said that it is critical to establish clarity on the purpose of AI and its use. The early adoption of AI will help the UAE deal with any challenges it may bring. The Minister further said that the negative aspects of AI can be avoided by creating the right legislative framework.

Al-Olama further said that the UAE has what it takes to establish global leadership in this domain, as it has the infrastructure and the capabilities needed to drive the development of the sector. In this context, he spoke about the many AI start-ups launched in the UAE that have attracted the attention of major international players.

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