Smart Dubai, a government office helping to transform the city into the “happiest” on earth through technology, has been working on its own ethical constitution to ensure itself and its private sector partners are upholding the UAE’s values.
As artificial intelligence becomes more commonplace in our day-to-day lives, those at the forefront of the technological advancement are wary of its potential to be misused and are looking to safeguard against it.
The UAE has recently embraced the drive to harness AI, appointing the world’s first minister of artificial intelligence, Omar Al Olama, last year. The reason being that technological innovation will make its citizens happier, according to Dr Aisha bin Bishr, director general of Smart Dubai.
But with new technology comes new challenges, which Smart Dubai are tackling head on.
“We have a specific team developing what we call AI principles and ethics,” Dr bin Bishr told The National at a Google “Making AI” conference held in Amsterdam.
She added that those working in the AI Laboratory in Dubai would be taught to use the principles and ethics in their work.
While Dr bin Bishr did not give details about the content of the principles, she said the first draft was “much aligned” with the seven principles set out by Google earlier this year.
The ethics of AI was on the tip of all the speakers’ tongues at the Google conference, which included a talk by the firm’s Ethical Machine Learning team head, Jen Gennai.
The technology giant’s AI wing came under fire earlier this year when it was revealed that the company was developing technology with the US to improve targeted drone strikes.
After a backlash from its own employees, Google released essentially an AI code of conduct, which vowed not to pursue a contract “whose principal purpose or implementation is to cause or directly facilitate injury to people” and said it would not renew its contract with the Pentagon when it expires next year.
The principles outline Google’s commitment to ensuring that its Machine Learning is only applied to applications which are socially beneficial. In a bid to improve its reputation and regain trust, last month, the tech firm announced it would give away $25 million (Dh92 million) to projects that propose to use AI for social good.
In this respect Dubai is already well ahead of the curve, having already committed to using technology to create a more environmentally friendly and safer world. Smart Dubai is helping all Dubai’s government departments to go paperless by 2021. While Sheikh Mohammed bin Rashid, Vice President and Ruler of Dubai, has set out his vision for 25 per cent of all journeys made in the Emirate to be self-driving by 2030, in the hope that this will reduce emissions and road accidents.
Dr bin Bishr believes that technology should never be made for technology’s sake but to add value to the world.
“In Dubai, we don’t take technology as the end goal, it is an enabler,” she said. “We want to be able to promote a happier life for people so we use technology to improve our quality of life.”