South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol addressing the ‘Future Vision Forum’ at the Museum of the Future in Dubai on Tuesday Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

Dubai: Nations must design the future through global solidarity and should not allow Artificial Intelligence (AI) to take over the decision-making power while chasing progress with advanced technology, South Korean President Yoon Suk Yeol said in Dubai on Tuesday.

President Yoon, who was on a state visit to the UAE to boost bilateral relations, was speaking at the ‘Future Vision Forum’ at the Museum of the Future (MOTF).

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(From left) Choo Kyung Ho (Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance), Linda G Mills (Vice Chancellor of NYU), Richard David Hames (Chief Strategist for the Eternus Group and Founder of the Center for the Future), H.E. Yoon Suk Yeol (President of the Republic of Korea), Sarah Al Amiri (Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology), Ray O. Johnson (CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute), Lee Jong Ho (Minister of Science and ICT), and Saeed Al Gergawi (Director of Dubai Future Academy) at the Future Vision Forum in Dubai Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

The President began the speech by praising the Museum of the Future for changing the concept of museums - from being associated with the past to the future and for “inspiring to create a better future for humanity”.

He noted that we live in a world that is changing more rapidly than ever before.

“Things depicted in science fiction films are now reality, and many necessities in our daily lives are just a touch away on our smart phones…By the time we become accustomed to a new technology, it has already become obsolete,” he added.

Though science and technology can completely change the future, depending on what kind of science and technology are developed and how they are used, he emphasised that “the important thing is we have the power to choose”.

“To those who pursue peace and prosperity, this right to choose and control technology is as important as the right to live. In order to properly exercise the rights given to us, we must first map out the proper future toward which we should move. Proper standards will be essential. Human dignity is the value that cannot and should never be surrendered, under any circumstance,” President Yeol pointed out.

As we grow accustomed to AI, the President warned that we may run the risk of handing over all of our decision-making rights.

“Science and technology should evolve through ceaseless innovation, but they must be able to fully contribute to realising the values that we pursue. In that sense, this phrase inscribed on the Museum of the Future in Dubai resonates profoundly with me: “The future belongs to those who can imagine it, design it and execute it.”

The President highlighted that the future is not something we can predict, but something we are constantly creating with solidarity.

“Through solidarity and cooperation based on science and technology, we must now overcome common crises that face humanity such as climate change, pandemics, an aging population and low economic growth. At the same time, global solidarity is essential for the joint design and realisation of a future that respects human dignity as the preeminent value,” he added.

UAE-Korea collaboration

Hailing the values upheld by the Koreans that are deeply rooted in a sense of global purpose, Sarah Al Amiri, UAE Minister of State for Public Education and Advanced Technology, said many collaborations between the two nations find links to science and technology and energy transition.

The minister highlighted the importance of the UAE’s Space Fund that was established to support international and Emirati companies co-operating in space sector engineering, sciences and research applications. The Fund provides for collaboration in earth observation and communication satellite, she said.

“We are seeking development of joint partnerships in various industries to enhance our future programmes,” she added.

With COP-28 coming up in the UAE, the minister said “we are doubling down at the Ministry of Industry and Advanced Technology to work together, utilising digital technologies and solutions to create sustainable developments across the industrial sector”.

She added: “It’s a purposeful effort that the UAE is taking, very similar to that of Korea, because we have a similar goal of achieving carbon neutrality by 2050. We’re also looking at diversifying access to water sources. Those are tangential technologies that we can enhance and develop together.”

Al Amiri pointed out that the UAE’s space policy encourages collaboration with nations across the world. The ministry works with accomplished persons in real world, seeking the development of joint partnerships.

“It is the shared value system that allows us to drive this engagement, create the right sense of purpose, utilise science and technology together.”

Nurturing talent

South Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choo Kyung Ho said humanity’s progress was only possible because of technology and innovation and free economic activities.

South Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choo Kyung Ho
South Korea’s Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Economy and Finance Choo Kyung Ho Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

He highlighted the need for governments to support research and development and nurturing creative talent.

He said governments should provide a conducive environment that abolishes outdated regulations and helps evolve science and technology.

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“We should create and nurture creative talents to have an innovative future,” he said, calling for innovation in the field of education to nurture creative talent that would ensure innovative future.

“We need to nurture talent that meets the need of the time. We need constant innovation in education,” he said, adding that governments should support research and development even in the private sector.

Lee Jong Ho, South Korea’s Minister of Science and ICT, said the aging population and climate change are the major challenges that Korea aims to address in solidarity with the international community.

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Lee Jong Ho Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

He pointed out that science and technology and international solidarity played a huge role during the COVID-19 pandemic. The government has achieved groundbreaking results in research in medications for the aging society and has made great strides in responding to infectious diseases. Pioneering in many technological realms, Korea is also preparing cloud computing system to lower energy consumptions, Ho pointed out.

NYU-KAIST partnership

Linda G. Mills, vice chancellor of New York University (NYU) in the US, said the NYU and KAIST (Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology) had last fall signed a historic partnership in an event featuring the President Yeol.

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Linda G. Mills Image Credit: Clint Egbert/Gulf News

She recalled that the President had at that point also highlighted the need to protect the universal values of humanity and to prevent digital technologies from becoming the controlling power and encroaching upon freedom of humanity.

“NYU and KAIST have committed to these universal values,” she said.

NYU, its branch in the UAE, NYU Abu Dhabi, and KAIST are working together to nurture not only the sciences, but also the creative arts, she said.

“Our three institutions and our three great nations are helping to support groundbreaking interlocking movements that will uphold the highest standards in science development, and in advancing global solidarity.”

Speaking to Gulf News later, she said the NYU Abu Dhabi faculty are also participating in the research partnership with KAIST.

“NYU faculties from both New York and Abu Dhabi will participate with KAIST faculty in research under a rubric of several categories such as bioengineering, cybersecurity and climate change,” said Mills.

Co-chair of KAIST New York Campus Committee and advisor to KAIST New York Campus, Prof Hyeon Yeo added: “We are going to build a triple alliance for innovation through education.”

Earlier, renowned Australian speaker Richard David Hames, who is the chief strategist for the Eternus Group and founder of the Centre for the Future, Ray O Johnson, CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute in Abu Dhabi, and Saeed Al Gergawi, director of Dubai Future Academy, also spoke at the session which discussed the major future challenges and the shared responsibility of nations to solve them.