AI: Human History's Proudest Achievement or Frankenstein?
Dubai, UAE, February 07, 2018: On December 6 last year, TIME magazine announced its distinguished Person of the Year for 2017. Interestingly, and rather surprisingly, the #MeToo campaign and the people behind it grabbed the coveted honor.
Who could have predicted that ousted from the numero uno position would be the likes of Russian President Vladimir Putin or Saudi Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman bin Abdulaziz Al Saud?
Once again, it was swarm AI technology, allowing people to think smarter together, that for a second consecutive year prophesied with a 100 percent accuracy the winner – having done the same with Donald Trump in 2016.
A few months earlier Saudi Arabia was the first nation to grant citizenship to Sophia, a humanoid robot.
Today Artificial Intelligence (AI) can fly a drone, drive cars, park vehicles, detect cancer, predict crop yield, warn of super storms, schedule personal meetings, become a personal trainer, trade stocks and even beat you at Candy Crush!
No longer relegated to the realm of possibilities, Sci-Fi movies and intellectual forums, AI is real, it’s here and it has infiltrated our lives. From self-driving cars to popular digital assistants such as Siri and Alexa, every cutting-edge innovation that is an integral part of our lives today incorporates artificial intelligence at some level.
At the World Government Summit 2017, Elon Musk, CEO of Tesla, reiterated some of his beliefs on the dangers of AI, and said: “I think we need to be very careful in how we adopt artificial intelligence and that we make sure that researchers don’t get carried away.”
Musk has held firm on his belief that AI will be a threat to people, with a handful of leading companies ending up in control of AI systems and capable of exercising “extreme” levels of power.
Not by any means the sole voice of caution against AI, Musk’s warnings resonate with leaders and thinkers around the globe including world-renowned theoretical physicist Stephen Hawking, who believes that AI will continue to evolve and improve until it is eventually superior to human beings. Articulating his anxiety, he said: “I fear that AI may replace humans altogether and be a ‘new form’ of life.”
But the most immediate and looming threat perceived by AI has to do with livelihood and the likelihood that machines will take over our jobs, making thousands of employed professionals across the global workforce redundant.
A McKinsey report states that half of today’s workplace activities could be automated by 2055, or in more extreme scenarios, up to 20 years earlier. In contrast, a 2017 Gartner report predicts that AI will create 500,000 more jobs than it will displace over the next three years, creating a host of employment opportunities for medium-to high-skilled workers.
Inevitably, as the global economy gears up for the widespread adoption of AI solutions, the competition will be fierce. It is therefore imperative for employees to implement, manage and work in tandem with this new technology to develop skills that will enable them to remain relevant.
Artificial Intelligence will arguably be the most defining force in reshaping our world and what greater testimony to its pervasive power than the fact that on October 19, the UAE became the first nation with a minister in the government dedicated to AI.
Not surprising really, given that since 2013, the world’s most powerful leaders and game-changing innovators have convened for the World Government Summit in Dubai, UAE - an event dedicated to helping mold the governments of the future. Past events have featured high-caliber speakers such as former US President Barack Obama, World Economic Forum founder Professor Klaus Schwab, and everyone’s favorite tech visionary Elon Musk.
The sixth Edition of World Government Summit set to run from February 11 to 13, 2018 will host the Global AI Governance Forum, with the aim of forecasting the future of government work in view of the latest advancements in artificial intelligence. While enabling governments to continue to perform their duties efficiently, AI enhances their ability to improve the quality of life and build trust in the community.
The UAE’s AI strategy covers development and application in nine sectors, including transport, health, space, renewable energy, water, technology, education, environment, and traffic, with the aim of becoming the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence.
The country hopes that its AI initiatives will inspire the rest of the world to deliberate on how an AI-powered future should look. According to Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, the UAE's Minister of State for AI, the future is not going to be black or white. AI is not negative or positive, Al Olama believes, and as is the case with any new technology it all depends on the usage and implementation.
Whether we consider AI the tool to achieve a utopian dream where superior intelligence rids the planet of all ills or a dystopian reality where we are at war with robots, there’s no debating that governments and private enterprises needs to come together and engage in meaningful dialogue about a future where man and machine must coexist in harmony and use this rapidly transmuting technology to create a better world for those that will inherit it.
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