UAE minister proposes fatwa on how AI, robots should be used to serve people

He said that there was a need to look at these latest developments with Shariah law

by

Nasreen Abdulla

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Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications. — Supplied photo
Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications. — Supplied photo

Published: Thu 9 Nov 2023, 5:14 PM

Last updated: Thu 9 Nov 2023, 7:46 PM

In a world that is changing by the minute, there is a need for religious-based dialogue to deal with the real-world applications of these new technologies. That is according to Omar bin Sultan Al Olama, UAE Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence (AI), Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications.

“This is a very critical meeting which is important for the region,” he said, addressing scholars as well as scientific and intellectual personalities from around the world at the International Conference for the UAE Council for Fatwa. “We see that AI technology is changing the world,” he said. “Here in the UAE, we are building systems that cope with our religious and cultural needs and meet our traditional requirements.”

He added that there was a need to address these latest developments with Shariah law. “We have to discuss how to make the best use of these technologies,” he said. “We need to have rules and regulations on how to apply it to serve people.”

Shariah is a set of Islamic religious law that governs the daily life of Muslims. It provides religious followers with a set of principles and guidelines to help them make important decisions in their lives.

Enhancing human capabilities

In his speech, Judge Ibrahim Ahmed Al Hosani from the Federal Court of First Instance in Abu Dhabi explained there are several legal implications of AI and other such technologies that must be considered by experts.

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“We have begun using robots in several aspects of our life,” he said. “What happens when these robots make a mistake or there is loss of life because of a robot? There is a difference between human intelligence and AI. Humans understand and feel and they can reach the right decision based on situations. What about robots? Passing a Fatwa regarding this is a task of great significance and needs a detailed analysis.”

Dr. Ibrahim Obaid Al Ali, a member of the UAE Council for Fatwa, gave the example of a person killed by self-driving cars. “The legalities of robots is becoming increasingly important,” he said. “The continuous advancement of technology cannot be left without rules and regulations.”

Of cyborgs and microchips

The panel also discussed the legalities of using microchips in human beings. “With the rapid development in scientific technology, we are seeing microchips being implanted in human beings,” said Dr. Ehab Khalifa, Chief Technology Officer at Future Centre for Advanced Research and Studies in Abu Dhabi. “In such cases, what happens if the person is dead? Do they become a cyborg where their functions are controlled by machines?”

A cyborg describes a human being whose physiological functions are aided or enhanced by artificial means.

Dr. Ehab also said these raised ethical questions if the cyborg wants to get married. “Will they get married to another person?” he asked. “Would that be permissible? These are questions that need to be tackled.”

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