UAE has added another feather to its cap. After appointing the world’s first artificial intelligence minister, Abu Dhabi has established the world’s first graduate-level and research-based AI university at Masdar City.
The country is aiming to empower human capital with knowledge and scientific thinking.
Dr. Sultan Ahmed Al Jaber, UAE Minister of State and Chairman of the Mohamed bin Zayed University of Artificial Intelligence (MBZUAI) Board of Trustees, said that the world has entered a new era of technological innovation driven by AI and this new era will pave the way for “unprecedented opportunities”.
“AI has become an evident priority across industries with new technologies being introduced at an incredibly fast pace. It is already difficult to keep up with the implications of this quickly evolving field,” he said.
“Leveraging AI will help us overcome today’s challenges and better prepare for an AI-driven future. To achieve this, he said the world needs more human capital in the field of AI to bridge any possible gaps”.
Masdar City facility will offer Masters (two years) and PhD (four years) in three key main areas – machine learning, computer vision and natural language processing.
Graduate students can now apply to MBZUAI from this month while registration will begin on August 2020 and the inaugural class will commence on September 2020.
“This university will help us equip necessary AI ecosystem to enable us to leverage the full potential locally, regionally and globally in a bid to develop innovative apps for businesses and governments,” Al Jaber said.
Abu Dhabi has the opportunity to lead the world in AI
Experts from around the world have been selected for the University’s Board of Trustees and include MBZUAI Interim President, Professor Sir Michael Brady, professor of Oncological Imaging at the University of Oxford, UK; Professor Anil K. Jain, a University Professor at Michigan State University, US; Professor Andrew Chi-Chih Yao, Dean of the Institute for Interdisciplinary Information Sciences at Tsinghua University, Beijing, China; Dr. Kai-Fu Lee, a technology executive and venture capitalist based in Beijing, China; Professor Daniela Rus, Director of Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Laboratory (CSAIL), US, and Peng Xiao, CEO of Abu Dhabi-based Group 42.
Brady, who had published an AI research paper 44 years ago, said that Abu Dhabi has the opportunity to lead the world in this disruptive technology.
“Following decades of research into machine learning and artificial intelligence, we are now at a turning point in the widespread application of advanced intelligence. That evolution is, among other things, creating exciting new career opportunities in nearly every sector of society,” he said.
Lee, who has been working on AI for over 30 years, said that AI is now creating a tremendous amount of wealth and value around the world.
“We see AI as the new electricity. It is the new technology upon which many apps will be built and which will change the world, disrupt and improve and amplify all kinds of professions and industries in the next 10 or 15 years,” he said.
With the establishment, he said that it will push UAE ahead and the country has the most forward-thinking strategy in AI.
“UAE will become one of the strongest countries in the world in the next decade. Value of data is incredibly important and China is fortunate that it has a large population and that fuelled its rise. But the UAE has recognised this well ahead of many countries and the country has a lot of data processing capabilities,” he said.
Data is the food for AI
Xiao said that data is the food to feed AI while machines have the muscle to power the learning.
“There are three Vs to Big Data – volume, velocity and variety. The UAE may not have the volume of data but the velocity and variety of data are world-class,” he said.
Over the next decade, AI is set to have a transformational impact on the global economy, with experts estimating that, by 2030, AI could contribute nearly $16 trillion to the global economy.
Over the next few decades, Rus said that humanity has some huge problems to contend with such as climate change, curing diseases, ensuring sustainability and eliminating poverty.
“We see potential in what the technology has given us. Today, computing is so pervasive and we don’t notice how we depend on it. In the future, we will continue to expand the field to create robotics, ML, AI systems to help people with cognitive and physical works,” she said.
However, to solve the problem, big and small, “we need a human capital and it is good to train people and have a facility with new technologies to empower the next generation with tools and the knowledge the problem”.