Humanity can only benefit if AI is open to all, Emirati expert says

Dr Ebtesam Almazrouei tells CogX festival in London safety must be at heart of artificial intelligence technology

AI 'can contribute back with a positive impact to humanity', Ebtesam Almazrouei told the CogX festival in London. Matthew Davies / The National
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Open-source software is the key to the future of artificial intelligence, a leading Emirati expert told a London conference on Tuesday.

Only if all developers have access to AI technologies so they can feed back into the system will it be of maximum benefit, said Dr Ebtesam Almazrouei from the Al Cross-Centre Unit at the Technology Innovation Institute in Abu Dhabi.

AI has thrown up many questions surrounding the ethics of its use, which were raised at CogX, a major festival on artificial intelligence.

“While we are innovating, at the same time we should be committed to responsible use and the quality that we're applying, because it can contribute back with a positive impact to humanity,” Dr Almazrouei said.

“The most important thing is how we develop and deploy AI responsibly and ethically, while at the same time it should be accessible for everyone.”

Many analysts believe this transparent approach will go a long way to dealing with any ethical dilemmas that will arise in the various stages of AI development.

“Be sure that when you build the solution, your heart is committed to safeguarding the AI responsibility,” Dr Almazrouei told the festival.

For many, the advantage of AI is, in essence, speed – the speed of the technology to solve human problems.

The potential that AI presents is enormous in automation, the performance of mundane tasks, assisting in the discovery of new medical treatments and so on, the conference was told.

“If you want to advance in optimising a solution, for example, in drug discovery, instead of spending three years towards finding a solution, you can spend a few days for that solution,” said Dr Almazrouei.

One aspect of AI that is being analysed at CogX is how the technology can help humans with their mental health.

“A lot of the AIs today are smart, but they don’t really get humans,” said Rana El Kaliouby, the deputy chief executive of Smart Eye, a Swedish AI company that develops technology to give insights into human behaviour.

AI must be used 'responsibly and ethically', Dr Ebtesam Almazrouei told the CogX festival in London. Matthew Davies / The National

“And I think that’s a problem because AI is becoming ingrained into every aspect of our lives and the trust isn’t there.

“Clearly a lot of AI scientists are not considering the emotional and social aspects of AI.”

The festival heard from organisers that safety is paramount when it comes to the development of artificial intelligence.

The CogX festival, now in its 7th year, has brought together leading thinkers, scientists and business executives in AI from all over the world.

Expected to be visited by around 90,000 people over the next few days, CogX has grown exponentially in recent years.

This year’s theme concentrates on the immediate future. “How do we get the next ten years right?” said Chris Muirhead, the chief executive of CogX as he opened the festival.

“This has been the year for AI. It promises to bring incredible opportunities, whether it’s in drug discovery, combatting climate change or educational systems.

“But we can only realise the benefits, if we can deploy AI safely.”

CogX is being held at the O2, east London, between September 12 and September 14.

Updated: September 13, 2023, 10:36 AM