Is there a role for the Arab world in the field of artificial intelligence and the power of innovation?

Is there a place in the Arab world for AI? (Photo by Adobe)

The centrality of the world is no longer in one place, and the most widespread slogan is "create or die". Ahmad Abdel-Rahman explains.

Artificial intelligence (AI) has become the talk of the entire world. It is the talk of one who knows a lot, one who knows little, and one who wants to know. There is talk about the importance of AI and the services it provides to humanity but there is also talk about its danger from those who contributed to AI's development.

Even a veteran theorist and politician like former US Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, who reached the age of 100, co-authored a book with Eric Schmidt and Daniel Huttenlocher entitled: "The Age of Artificial Intelligence and our Human Future."

The authors of this book believe that AI will have "radical repercussions on military matters, changing principles and battle tactics, and influencing the global balance of power". They even suggest that dictators and other leaders could use AI to shape information. The question they pose is: "In a world where machines are becoming smarter than humans: what does it really mean to be human?"

Nevertheless, Eric Schmidt, head of the Special Competitiveness Studies Project, re-posed the issue from a broader angle, namely, "the power of innovation." He says that what determines the outcome of the conflict and competition between America, China and Russia is "the ability to innovate faster and better in the military, economic and cultural fields".

The common link between innovation and international domination goes back to ancient times. More recently it is reflected in the Russian-Ukraine war. The most important factor in this war is the power of innovation. Isn't President Vladimir Putin betting on the hypersonic "Kinjal" missiles? Didn't Iran spend resources, at the expense of its people's livelihood, building a hypersonic missile? Even the wars of the future, "will start with a cyber strike," according to Schmidt, who believes that war is "the legal midwife for the birth of innovation".

The future

The issue, of course, is not limited to creativity in the field of military technology. What humanity needs is not spending USD2 trillion annually on armaments. Half of the amount is enough to eradicate poverty and illiteracy in the world. What the Arab world needs is not only a transition from militarisation to sustainable development in the economy and education, but also innovation and planning for the future.

The challenge facing the Arab world is to remove the dangerous effects left by the dominance of the extremist and terrorist forces of political Islam over the so-called Arab Spring, and then move towards the future. It is not enough to use technology and AI in education, different areas of work, and state administrations. There is a need to contribute to technological innovation, otherwise Arab countries will remain dependent on what others innovate.

The race between the U.S and China on technological innovation is more important than other factors in the rivalry. It is not unusual for Chinese President Xi Jinping to hope China becomes a scientific superpower  by 2049. This is the year of the first centenary of the victory of the socialist revolution led by Mao Zedong in 1949. The "teacher "Deng Xiaoping, who restored the expression", preceded Zedong. Deng said: "The four modernisations are: agriculture, industry, defense, and technology."

Divisions in the world have evolved over time, from a rich north and a poor south to some countries that knows and others that do not. Indeed, the world has evolved from those inside and those outside the game of markets and banks, to the world of those who use others and the world of those who serve others, not to mention the world of the powerful and the world of the weak. As for the popular slogan, according to Schmidt, it is "innovate or die." Anyone who is deprived of innovation is called "dead-alive", he says. The centrality of the world is no longer in one place.The Arab world must adapt.

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Saturday, 30 September 2023