UAE calls for global coalition to police artificial intelligence

AI and Digital Economy Minister Omar Al Olama says technology oversight must extend across borders

UAE minister calls for global coalition to regulate artificial intelligence

UAE minister calls for global coalition to regulate artificial intelligence
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The UAE has called for a global coalition to regulate the development and use of artificial intelligence around the world, comparing the oversight needed to how nation states are monitored for nuclear arms proliferation.

Omar Al Olama, Minister of State for AI, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, said the world urgently needs to come together to police AI.

“If a country starts to enrich uranium to weapons grade, whether they disclose or not, the world knows,” he told The National's Connectivity Forum.

“There are certain parameters, certain systems, certain mechanisms that allow us to know 'OK, we are concerned that this country is moving towards weapons-grade uranium'.

“We need to have the same level of rigour, the same level of oversight on AI.”

Technology, and AI in particular, is at an inflection point: as large language models become more pervasive and sophisticated, experts are raising alarm over potential dangers.

Since late last year, when OpenAI launched its generative AI platform ChatGPT, attracting more than 100 million users in less than a few months, companies are racing to bring AI-powered products to market.

On Tuesday, US Congress held a hearing to grapple with how lawmakers might regulate AI.

Sam Altman, chief executive of OpenAI, told a Senate panel that regulating AI was “critical”, and encouraged Congress to act.

Mr Al Olama, who became the world's first AI minister in 2017, said countries including the UAE cannot afford to wait for private business leaders such as OpenAI chief executive Mr Altman or Microsoft chief executive Sundar Pichai to hash out a plan with lawmakers.

The dangers of a technology that has been in the hands of consumers for over a decade, but is now rapidly accelerating, cannot be regulated at the national level, he said.

“Even if we were the most progressive, most proactive country on Earth and put in place the best guardrails and safeguards, if [AI] goes off on the wrong tangent in China, or the US, or the UK – or anywhere else – because of our interconnectedness, it is going to harm our people,” he said.

Updated: May 19, 2023, 12:31 PM