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Relax, AI it isn't really a threat to humans

Filed on April 26, 2018 | Last updated on April 26, 2018 at 10.09 pm
Relax, AI it isnt really a threat to humans
A panel discussion with Sunil Gupta, president and COO of Paladion Networks; Asif Javed, managing director for technology at Accenture Middle East; Mark St John Qualter, head of AI at Royal Bank of Scotland; and David Hardoon, chief data officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, during Artelligence 2018 in Dubai.

(Photo by Dhes Handumon)

One thing that will remain unchanged in a world that is increasingly adopting new tech is a well-trained workforce

The recent explosion in new-age technology such as artificial intelligence, which is today being integrated in systems across various industries, has raised concerns about how safe societies across the world are.

However, experts at Artelligence - The Artificial Intelligence Forum 2018 pointed out that AI in itself is not a threat to humanity, rather a threat emerges when it is used for immoral purposes. Speaking in a panel session at the event, several global experts highlighted the latest advancements in AI technology, and how the future is rich with opportunities.

Artelligence was presented by Khaleej Times, the UAE's first English-language newspaper, and MIT Sloan Management Review GCC, with Smart Dubai as the official government partner.

Asif Javed, managing director of technology at Accenture Middle East, noted that there has been a lot of debate in recent years on what type of jobs across various industries will be rendered obsolete with the arrival of AI. However, the topic of the conversation should focus instead on how many more and newer jobs AI will create, he said.

"We are confident that there will be an uptake in opportunities in the market in the future," he said. "There is going to be an explosion in possibilities. We have a lot more technology that is available to us today, and this is an undisputed fact. This has allowed us to innovate and improve experiences."

Mark St John Qualter, head of Artificial Intelligence at RBS, added to Javed's observation and pointed out: "Human beings are very good at adapting to adverse situations and circumstances, and this is something that we have seen throughout history as technology has become more and more commonplace in our lives."

Citing the example of the industrial revolution and how many people feared that they would be laid off, Qualter pointed out that many factory workers simply learned to adapt to the change that technology had brought to their workplace. However, what ultimately ended up happening was that a lot of the workers were taught how to use the technology that was available to them to become efficient. Qualter says that there is no reason to believe that the situation with AI today would be any different. "Overall, we feel that AI is a very positive thing," he said. "We will need to re-train people in the workforce to adapt to using what is available to them. People often feel that technology will solve all their problems and that it will have the answers to all their questions. However, you have to be cautious in the approach that you are taking."

One thing that will remain unchanged in a world that is increasingly adopting new tech is a well-trained workforce, Javed added.

David Hardoon, chief data officer at the Monetary Authority of Singapore, said that the drive in the adoption of new technologies is accelerated in regions where there aren't as many legacy systems. "You will be surprised at the progress that is being made in places such as India and in many countries across Africa," he said.

"Adoption rates are amazing in those areas because the technology is there to fill a need. When there is a need, you will by default have a workforce that specialises in providing those services. We have seen that innovation often thrives in places where there is not enough infrastructure."

Hardoon also revealed that threats are often greater in places where there are legacy systems combined with advanced infrastructure. "The threat comes from how we use technology; there is a chance that it might implode. This is especially true in places where there are legacy systems."

Sunil Gupta, president at COO of Paladion Networks, added that while there has been an explosion in data in recent years, there is still more that needs to be done to understand how to properly use it. "We have the data, but there is still a need to analyse and process the data faster. This is what is necessary to improve the user experience."

"We need to think about innovation with an open mind," Javed concluded. "There is also a need for greater and stronger collaboration, and transparency as the technology evolves in the coming years."

- rohma@khaleejtimes.com


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