x

Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 19 October 2018

AI summer camp stands the nation in good stead to be a leader, not a follower

The UAE is preparing its citizens as much as it can for an unpredictable future

Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, pictured at the Innovation Hub in Dubai. Anna Nielsen / The National
Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, pictured at the Innovation Hub in Dubai. Anna Nielsen / The National

No one can say for sure what a future with artificial intelligence might look like. There has been plenty of speculation and fearmongering about whether AI will make many of our jobs obsolete, render us all lazy and incapable of performing basic tasks – or whether it will open doors to a dynamic new future of possibilities. Omar Sultan Al Olama, the Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, hails from the latter school of thought. He thinks AI could perform extraordinary functions in multiple fields, from healthcare, where it could save lives, to the economy, saving the country billions of dollars and bureaucracy, where it could maximise efficiency. He is a firm believer in artificial intelligence being a force for good and plans to take the rest of the country with him.

This week, Mr Al Olama inaugurated the UAE’s first AI summer camp. The take-up alone – 2,200 applications from university students and government executives, with all places snapped up within 24 hours – alone tells us there is a hunger and an appetite to be part of the futuristic vision of the country. It comes after the announcement that the race to join the UAE’s first astronaut training programme has been whittled down to the final 39, and the news earlier this year that the first batch of 500 Emirati students have begun an apprenticeship in AI.

What is key is that this nation is preparing its citizens as much as it can for a future which cannot be predicted, beyond anticipating a world that will be transformed beyond recognition – whatever that might look like. The impact of AI on all our lives is an inevitable reality. What the UAE is doing is putting institutions and programmes in place to ensure no one gets left behind. That, in turn, stands the nation in great stead to be a leader, not a follower, in a revolutionised world.