UAE appoints first State Minister for Artificial Intelligence

Minister of Artificial Intelligence Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama

United Arabs Emirates has appointed the first State Minister for Artificial Intelligence is 27-year-old Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama.

His Highness Shaikh Mohammad Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Vice-President and Prime Minister of the UAE and Ruler of Dubai, unveiled a new Cabineton Thursday tasked with making the UAE the world’s best prepared for artificial intelligence and other advanced technologies.

According to Gulf News, Olama is one of six newly appointed ministers, three of whom were women, who represent a new phase in the UAE’s pursuit of “future skills, future sciences and future technology, as the country prepares for the centenary to ensure a better future for our generations.”

“The new government will catapult the UAE into its prosperous centenary which aims for fostering knowledge, science and research as well as engaging the youth in the leadership of the nation,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

Shaikh Mohammad tweeted that a new shake-up came after the government’s recent annual meetings and the launch of the UAE Centennial Plan 2071.

“We want the UAE to become the world’s most prepared country for artificial intelligence,” Shaikh Mohammad said.

For some time now AI has become a central part of operations in UAE and the city of Dubai specifically. For example in October 2016, Smart Dubai Government Establishment and Dubai’s Department of Economic Development (DED), in collaboration with IBM, launched “Saad”, the city’s first government service utilising artificial intelligence, powered by IBM Watson.

The service was launched to allow entrepreneurs and investors ask questions related to setting up businesses in Dubai, and to get real-time responses on various topics, including business licensing requirements and registration processes.

“Saad” is designed to understand natural language and ingest and comprehend massive amounts of data, learn and reason from its interactions, and provide responses that will aid users in deciding on correct courses of action.

The city also invested heavily in AI having put in place plans to put robot cops on the streets by 2030 as well as  get autonomous vehicles on the city’s roads.

The move by UAE, comes months after the Government of Germany drafted the world’s first set of ethical guidelines for self-driving car programming. The guidelines were developed by the Ethics Commission at the German Ministry of Transport and Digital Infrastructure.

The report stipulates 15 rules for software designers, to make “safety, human dignity, personal freedom of choice and data autonomy,” a priority, according to Professor Udo Di Fabio, chairman of the authoring ethics committee.

The move symbolizes that the Governments are starting to understand the importance of AI.

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