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UAE prepares to harness AI as it sets out road map for future

Advances in artificial intelligence will be positive and serve humanity, minister says

Image Credit: Arshad Ali/Gulf News
Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama. Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence is speaking about Artificial Intelligence at the Dubai Press Club...
Gulf News

Dubai: The new Ministry of Artificial Intelligence (AI) is working on a road map for the future, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence said on Wednesday.

Speaking to the media for the first time since his appointment to the UAE Cabinet, Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, the world’s first AI minister, said the UAE is on its way to paving a brighter future for its people.

Apart from the ministry’s main role in investing in advanced technologies and AI tools that will be implemented in various sectors, among its top priorities, he said, would be education and employment strategies to ensure the next generations are gainfully employed.

Amid fears that AI will result in many jobs being lost, Al Olama said AI advancements in the next period would be positive and lead to huge development on the job landscape.

“We will ensure people in the UAE are prepared for a change [on the] job landscape. As a ministry, we will work to raise awareness on these new jobs and develop people’s skills through training programmes so they can keep pace with the advancement,” he told the audience during a session held at the Dubai Press Club.

According to an study called ‘The Next Era of Human-Machine Partnerships’ released earlier this year, an estimated 85 per cent of jobs in 2030 haven’t been invented yet.

By definition, AI is described as machines that are able to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs and perform human-like tasks. AI can be used to collect big data, analyse it and come up with best solutions. It can be used in all sectors and fields ranging from health, transport, space, renewable energy, water and more.

Al Olama emphasised the importance of incorporating AI studies in school curricula to prepare a generation that will excel in this field, which will be crucial to meeting the requirements of the future economy.

“The UAE has already taken a big step in training students in coding and programming, and now our role will be to work with the education ministries to include AI in the curriculum of higher grades. The next generation, which already knows coding, will be fully prepared for AI,” he said.

Al Olama highlighted the importance of encouraging future generations to look in the direction of technology and take up new advanced fields like AI.

“The next generation should focus on the needs of the future and specialise in the fields that will be in demand. The UAE made this easy for us by telling us what the country needs in 2071, such as engineers of 3D printing, etc,” he said.

Equally critical will be framing the future with relevant laws and legislations, he explained, noting that AI will have a positive impact in the next period but could be negative in the long run if governments do not implement such laws.

“Every country understands the importance of AI in every field and sector but not all are ready to set laws and legislations to govern AI. We are here to implement these laws and amend them when needed,” he said.

If governments acknowledge the need for laws on AI, then predictions by scientists like Stephen Hawking about the negative impacts of AI on mankind won’t happen, he noted.

With the use of AI, collecting and analysing data will be easier than ever and will help in providing solutions that will serve mankind.

“The data collected in the UAE will be different than anywhere else, because of the demographic we have here, which includes people of over 200 nationalities. This data will have a global reach,” he concluded.

Outline of the role of Ministry of Artificial Intelligence:

* Investing in advanced technologies and artificial intelligence tools that will be implemented in all fields of work.

* Enhancing the government’s performance by investing in the latest technologies and tools of artificial intelligence and applying them in various sectors.

* Working with the Ministry of Education and Ministry of Higher Education and Scientific Research to include Artificial Intelligence (AI) as part of the curriculum.

* Preparing and training people for the new job landscape.

* Implementing laws and legislations that govern AI.

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