Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 July 2019

Kulture Symposium Weimar 2019: International cultural event opens with praise for the UAE

The Emirates' investment in renewable energy has been lauded as a key case study at a conference

The UAE has invested billions into renewable energy sources. AFP
The UAE has invested billions into renewable energy sources. AFP

An international cultural conference in Germany has opened with high praise for work being done in the UAE to invest in renewable energy sources.

The Kulture Symposium Weimar 2019, run by the Goethe-Institut, opened yesterday in the town of Weimar. The conference invites an international group of experts, artists and speakers to discuss a range of social and global issues across a series of events.

Anab Jain, co-founder and director of foresight and design company Superflux, used her opening keynote address to highlight the work in renewable energy being done in the UAE.

She said Superflux, a company that specialises in creating models of the future, was asked by the UAE's Ministry of Energy and the Prime Minster’s Office, to help them understand how their energy strategy would affect life in the Emirates in several decades' time.

Superflux created large city models that visualised five future worlds and predicted what air pollution would be like in the UAE in 2030; from one situation where there was 0 per cent investment and use of renewable energy sources, to a scenario where all Emirati energy needs only came from renewable sources.

Their technology could even simulate how Dubai might smell in the year 2034 if residents continued to use cars for the same amount of journeys as they do today.

This then influenced the decision of the UAE Government to invest billions of dollars into renewable energy, Jain said.

“Giving a whiff of what the air would smell like in 2030, the smell brought home a point that no amount of data can. The next day the government said it would invest billions into renewables, changing the energy policy to mitigate the scenario," she said.

The three-day conference will look at how rapid technological development is producing fundamental changes in society, culture and the economy.

“The most powerful way to effect change is when people can get emotional experience of change," Jain said.

In the keynote address, Jain also said that, in the future, drones will be used for much more than they are today. One day, they will become instant revenue generating machines and could be able to write instant automated news stories using video footage.

She also said banks will use face recognition to assess credit worthiness, and pointed to the fact that smartphones are no longer a tool being used by humans, but we are "already working for the machine", inadvertently improving artificial intelligence and the ability of humans to be manipulated.

But it wasn't all doom and gloom. Jain suggested that by looking at the potential cultural, as well as physical, impact of these predicted futures, as the UAE has done, governments worldwide can be used to change policies to build a better future.

KultureSymposium Weimar 2019: Recalculating the Route runs from 19 to 21 June.

Updated: June 20, 2019 05:00 PM

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