How ChatGPT has the potential to change our view of the Arab world

Technology expert and author Mo Gawdat says the world needs richer Arabic content that can be harnessed by artificial intelligence

ChatGPT is set to change how people obtain information, posing a challenge to content creators in the region. Photo: Reuters
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Artificial intelligence programs including ChatGPT can deliver more nuanced information about the Arab world, if more thoughtful Arabic content is available online.

That's the message from Mo Gawdat, former chief business officer of Google X, the tech company's innovation arm, and author of Solve for Happy: Engineer Your Path to Joy.

Speaking to The National this month at the International Congress for Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries event in Abu Dhabi, the author laments the lack of rich Arabic discourse on the internet.

Gawdat believes there is a risk that information about the region harnessed by AI applications will lack sufficient depth.

"There are a lot of megabytes of Arabic language online that are very empty. The initial versions of AI will reflect whatever it is that we put out there," he says.

“The later versions of AI, however, will eventually be smart enough to know that reality, and differentiate between the real information and fluff."

Mo Gawdat at the International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries event in Abu Dhabi. Photo: Arabic Language Centre

Gawdat urges Arabic content creators – from authors and publishing companies to cultural and educational institutions – to produce richer material for future AI tools to mine.

"The problem we are facing is that we are creating an impression that knowledge of the Arab world is shallow, in comparison to the incredible wisdom that is really coming from the region," he says.

"So we need to create content with depth and with more intellectual value."

With future AI programs leaning towards more authoritative sources of information, Gawdat calls for educational institutions to make available more of their Arabic research online.

"With AI utilising the Arabic content that we put in, it is our responsibility to put the right kind of content out there," he says.

“This will ultimately determine the quality of Arabic artificial intelligence driven content.

"I look at it as the same way as parents being aware of how they act in front of their children. Their actions will teach children how to deal with you and the world in the same way."

The International Congress of Arabic Publishing and Creative Industries in Abu Dhabi. Courtesy: Abu Dhabi Arabic Language Centre

With ChatGPT set to revolutionise the way we obtain information, Gawdat says researchers and content creators need to rethink their approach to their craft.

"It can be a threat when it comes to AI's capability in producing content, especially for publishers who are producing content relying on human authors," he says.

"However, it can also be an opportunity. As an author, I have learnt to no longer define myself as someone who is supposed to write words on paper.

“My job definition now is to provide interesting human perspectives and inspiration regarding certain topics.

“Through whatever knowledge is available to me and in whatever form, I am trying to find a way to connect with other humans and communicate what I believe needs to be communicated.”

Updated: May 28, 2023, 8:44 AM