The United Arab Emirates is the first country in the world to hire a minister for artificial intelligence

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artificial intelligence
humanoid robot AILA (artificial intelligence lightweight android)
operates a switchboard during a demonstration by the German
research centre for artificial intelligence at the CeBit computer
fair in Hanover March, 5, 2013.

REUTERS/Fabrizio Bensch

  • The United Arab Emirates has become the first country
    to appoint a high-ranking government official as an artificial
    intelligence minister.
  • The goal is also to make the UAE a leader when it comes
    to AI research, development, and innovation.
  • The UAE hopes its AI initiatives will encourage the
    rest of the world to really consider how our AI-powered future
    should look.

From robots that can flawlessly perform
electric cars that can go over 950 km (600
 on a single charge, it is becoming
increasingly apparent that the future is far closer than we may
have previously thought. If the missteps of the industrial
revolution are any indicator, we need to start planning for that
future today.

And it seems that this is precisely what the United Arab Emirates
(UAE) is trying to do.

The nation’s efforts are mainly concentrated in the city of
Dubai, which is already home to a number of futuristic projects,
including plans to create a “Mars science
 and build a real
life hyperloop,
programs for renewable
 and electric
, and tests for flying
 and even flying jetpacks. Dubai even
has an accelerator
 aimed at expediting the creation of
these various futuristic technologies.

Of course, no plan for the future can be complete without
considering the role that artificial intelligence (AI) will play,
so on October 19, the UAE became the first nation with
a government
minister dedicated to AI
. Yes, the UAE now has a minister for
artificial intelligence.

“We want the UAE to become the world’s most prepared
country for artificial intelligence,” UAE Vice President and
Prime Minister and Ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed
bin Rashid Al Maktoum said during the announcement of the




The first person to occupy the state minister for AI post is
H.E. Omar Bin Sultan
Al Olama
. The 27-year-old is currently the Managing Director
of the World Government Summit in the Prime Minister’s Office at
the Ministry of Cabinet Affairs and the Future, and he holds
degrees in Project Management and Excellence from
the American University of
 and a Bachelor of Business
Administration from the American University of Dubai.

Just days prior to the announcement of this position, on October
16, Sheikh Mohammed officially
 the UAE’s AI
strategy. According to the
government’s official webpage
, it is the first of its kind in
the world.

AI as ubiquitous as tech

A man looks on as the flying taxi is seen in Dubai, United Arab Emirates September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Satish Kumar
man looks on as the flying taxi is seen in Dubai, United Arab
Emirates September 25, 2017. REUTERS/Satish


The goal is also to make the UAE a leader when it comes to AI
research, development, and innovation. “In the UAE, we
understand the positives and the potential for AI,” Al Olama told
Futurism. “We have visionary leadership that wants to implement
these technologies to serve humanity better. Ultimately, we want
to make sure that we leverage that while, at the same time,
overcoming the challenges that might be created by AI.”

Concretely, the UAE’s AI strategy covers development and
application in nine sectors: Transport, health, space, renewable
energy, water, technology, education, environment, and traffic.

The technology’s impact on education, in particular, could be
quite dramatic, according to Al Olama. “With the internet, we’ve
seen a generation that has so much knowledge,” he
said. “Imagine if AI was able to help
us deliver that content in a way that makes people understand it,
memorize it, and be thought leaders in it. I don’t think the
future will have tests, exams, or strict memorization. AI will
help us actually make a more collaborative and personal learning

He continues by noting that AI can do more than just help us
learn new skills — it can help us learn what skills we have a
natural aptitude for: “It will help us be able to identify what
each person is good at, and then allow us to determine how to
make sure that everyone has the information delivery method that
they need in order to excel.”

For the UAE and Dubai, the potential for AI is obvious,
and education is just the beginning. They hope to ensure
that the tech eventually makes its way to all sectors of society
that can benefit from it — including almost every single facet of
modern governance.

In the official

, the UAE notes that the ultimate goal is to
“provide all services via AI and [fully integrate] AI into
medical and security services.” According to the same release,
harnessing the power of AI would translate to a 50 percent
savings in annual government costs by streamlining the nation’s
250 million yearly paper transactions, which currently require
190 million hours and 1 billion kilometers (621 million miles) in
travel. Of course, AI’s potential as far as governance is
convened goes beyond just this. The UAE’s strategy also includes
the creation of a “new vital market with high economic

Building the future

dubai roman logov unsplash
bird’s eye view of Dubai.


The UAE hopes its AI initiatives will encourage the rest of the
world to really consider how our AI-powered future should look.
“AI is not negative or positive. It’s in between. The future is
not going to be a black or white. As with every technology on
Earth, it really depends on how we use it and how we implement
it,” said Al Olama. “People need to be part of the discussion.
It’s not one of those things that just a select group of people
need to discuss and focus on.”

To that end, they hope to bring governments, organizations, and
everyday citizens together. “At this point, it’s really about
starting conversations — beginning conversations about
regulations and figuring out what needs to be implemented in
order to get to where we want to be. I hope that we can work with
other governments and the private sector to help in our
discussions and to really increase global participation in this
debate. With regards to AI, one country can’t do everything. It’s
a global effort,” Al Olama said.

Today’s biggest tech companies, led by Google and Amazon, want to
put AI at the core of their businesses, and the UAE and Dubai
hope to do the same for an entire nation.

Disclaimer: The Dubai Future Foundation works in
collaboration with Futurism and is one of our sponsors.

Read the original article on Futurism. Follow Futurism on Facebook. Copyright 2017. Follow Futurism on Twitter.


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