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| 12 February, 2018

'Virtual countries', uploading your mind to a computer and job losses - UAE minster on artificial intelligence

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Image used for illustrative purpose.
The United Arab Emirates has appointed a minister for artificial intelligence.

Image used for illustrative purpose. The United Arab Emirates has appointed a minister for artificial intelligence.

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Mohammed Al Gergawi, the United Arab Emirates’ Minister of Cabinet Affairs and the Future and chairman of the World Government Summit, told delegates in a speech on Sunday they will witness a lot of development in the field of artificial intelligence in the coming years.

“74 percent of jobs are expected to disappear in the future due to artificial intelligence,” Al Gergawi said, adding that everyone should be prepared for a future where technology “would penetrate minds and feelings” and create “virtual countries”.

“By 2045, we will be able to transfer and upload the contents of the human mind to a data centre. Governments must be prepared for these coming changes. The aim of this summit is to find answers and set priorities to meet these challenges and opportunities,” he added, according to a report by Arab News.

Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chairman of the World Economic Forum, said technology will be the backbone of any economy in the future and he called for more international cooperation on technology.

“We can shape change. We have to imagine the future. We have to design the future,” he said.

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Michio Kaku, physicist at the City College of New York told the audience to imagine a future of robo-cars and contact lenses that do instant translations. He said technologies will eliminate a lot of intermediary jobs, urging employees in such careers to work harder and faster to adapt to the new ways of working or they “will go bankrupt”.

He gave the example of a stockbroker, a manual job which he said will shift away from selling stocks and evolve into providing analysis and insights to investors.

The UAE has embraced artificial intelligence and in October last year the country’s first Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence was appointed as part of a cabinet reshuffle.

Soon after his appointment, the new minister announced he will develop legislation and a framework to regulate the use of technologies in government and federal institutions.

A report earlier this month by consultancy firm PwC estimated that artificial intelligence will contribute $320 billion to the Middle East economy by 2030 - the equivalent to 11 percent of gross domestic product.

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(Reporting by Yasmine Saleh; Writing by Shane McGinley; Editing by Michael Fahy)
(yasmine.saleh@thomsonreuters.com)

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