The UAE recently made a bold move that is perhaps the strongest demonstration of any government’s official endorsement of Artificial Intelligence technology. An Artificial Intelligence minister has been appointed, implying enough reliance and expectations of reliance on the technology to warrant the position.
The official title will be State Minister for Artificial Intelligence, and the activities of the position will coincide with UAE’s 2031 AI Strategy, a comprehensive government effort that will integrate all AI technologies in the society.
The young appointee is 27-year-old Omar Sultan Al-Ulama, who brings his experience as Deputy Director of the Future Department and now Managing Director of the World Government Summit to the position.
The announcement came on Thursday from UAE Vice President and Prime Minister Sheikh Mohammed, part of a general restructuring of the Cabinet: “We announce the appointment of a minister for artificial intelligence. The next global wave is artificial intelligence and we want the UAE to be more prepared for it.”
“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,” Sheikh Mohammad said, stressing the true purpose behind the restructure as “a renewal of blood, a catalyst for change and a preparation for the next stage of our nation's path”.
With a nod to the AI minister and the Minister of State of Higher Education, Sheikh Mohammed assigned the Education Minister with the task of developing an Advanced Skills portfolio, an acknowledgment of the strong link between AI-assisted machanized labor, economy and education that will exist in the future, saying, “Advanced technology will create new jobs and make half of existing jobs redundant within just ten years.”
Also significant were the appointments of Mariam Al Muhairi and Sara Al Amiri as Minister of State for Food Security and Minister of State for Advanced Sciences, respectively.
“We also appointed Sara Al Amiri as a Minister of State who will be responsible for the Advanced Sciences portfolio. Her task will be focused on research, development and building scientific capabilities. Sara will also be responsible for the UAE Council of Scientists, and she will capably lead the UAE mission to Mars.”
The UAE’s forward-looking approach to embracing and making efforts to integrate vital new technology has earned the country respect from many countries in the world. This is the most evident in the generous support it has put behind developing and supporting a number of various projects centered around solar technology and autonomous cars.
Though the UAE's Centennial 2071 initiative is quite ambitious, this official restructuring of leadership is undoubtedly laying the foundation for accomplishing the aims set forth. The danger is not in Artificial Intelligence itself, but in countries which take on R&D projects for the technology without putting a solid blueprint in place --in other words, solid integrative approach. The UAE is proving with its recent actions that it can be a model in this domain.