AI is emerging as “hottest” area in public policy in Saudi Arabia and the UAE


There is an open debate about the effects of artificial intelligence (AI). AI skeptics ask to what extent AI represents a "threat" to our privacy, our way of life, and ultimately, our ability to perform.

"It's healthy to approach with a sense of humility, and we've talked about the rise of artificial intelligence since Stanford professor John McCarthy coined the term in 1956," said Sam Blatteis, CEO of The MENA Catalysts, a consulting firm for state innovation and multinational high-tech companies Trustedreviews Middle East,

Blatteis, however, said, "There are people who believe that the disruptive potential of AI will have no less than the social impact of the Industrial Revolution, Henry Ford's pipeline, the invention of escape and the Internet."

Blatteis is the former head of Google Government Affairs for the Gulf States.

"Many believe that there is not a single technology that will shape our world more than AI over the next 50 years," added MENA Catalysts CEO, explaining that the potential of AI is not at all gadgetry. Rather, it has quickly become the hottest area of ​​golf legislation.

The Public Policy Company for the Middle East added that Saudi Arabia has recently unveiled a new National Center for AI, a national AI regulator and a national data management office. The country is already delivering its first AI college.

In the meantime, the UAE is rolling out a wave of AI-focused research institutes, university degrees and bootcamps and already has a cabinet position for AI.

Governments publish national AI plans

Blatteis said, "Worldwide, 42 top international governments have released multi-million dollar (and sometimes billions of dollars) worth of AI plans with new budgets, governments, and employees around the world since 2017 – and this is only the beginning."

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This is the first time that governments around the world are releasing national plans to develop the same territory, MENA Catalysts CEO said.

Asked whether KI will eliminate or create jobs, Blatteis said, "Throughout history, technology usually creates more and better paid jobs than it destroys. The state of AI development is constantly evolving. It is a research area. Would we regulate biochemistry or mathematics? We're still learning what we're dealing with here, and I'm careful to fix something before we understand it, "said the expert.

The challenges, according to Blatteis, are that the rise of big data and AI makes the privacy tools of the company almost superfluous overnight, including traditional "notification by consent", "disabling" of a service and anonymisation of personal information. Things like full names, dates of birth and driver's license numbers.

Legislation will be the key

"How we legislate AI will be one of the defining themes of the next five years," said MENA Catalysts CEO. "From the beginning, we must set strategic" rules of the road "- not over-regulate, but ensure regulatory predictability to attract expertise, ideas and capital."

Blatteis said it is equally important: "In the long term, we have to reinvent education. The world of trade and the economy has changed rapidly, but the educational outcomes do not match, "he said.

"If the Gulf is to develop knowledge industries of the future, education must be redefined here. We need to think about how we can "hack" education to re-program our education system, change course, and design a new education strategy. We should teach kindergartens, robotics and computer programming in physics at every school. There are many bright teachers, but none are trained to teach about the future. The foundation for AI and computer programming has become an area of ​​creativity and wild ideas to realize the long-term plans of the Gulf beyond the usual plans for m-government, e-government and general ICT, "Blatteis said.

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