Artificial Intelligence (AI) is transforming UAE’s economic and social landscape like never before. Digital transformation is taking the nation by storm, and security forms a core area of AI applications. AiTech4U, a company which made its presence in the country only recently, has been making waves with its security solutions and other AI-based products. Dr. Essam Mitwally, CEO and Founder for AiTech4U speaks to Anita Joseph about all this and more.
How is Artificial Intelligence changing the landscape of the country and the region? How is the UAE adapting to the rapid changes in technology, especially robotics and automation?
AI is mainly a fundamental component of Digital Transformation involving technologies, culture, people competences, and most importantly leadership. The wise leadership of the UAE is paying much attention to ensure AI policies and strategies are in place. It has solid foundation in UAE. For many years, the country has been recognized as the regional leader in most global technology indexes such as e-Government Development Index (EGDI #21 globally), Networked Readiness Index (NRI #26 globally). AI is expected to contribute further improvements in performance and efficiency to such indexes. UAE is the first nation globally to have a Minister of AI and to develop a National Ai Strategy. A 2018 PwC study indicated that the UAE’s adoption of AI will increase the GDP by $96 billion by 2030 (part of the 15 trillion globally). Accenture estimates that the largest verticals to boast growth from AI solutions in the UAE are Finance ($37 billion), Healthcare ($22 billion), and Transportation and logistics/warehouses ($19 billion).
The UAE anticipates that AI will contribute to annual government cost savings of 50% through the elimination of 250 million paper transactions, 190 million of manual labor hours, and 1,000 million kilometers for conducting government related transportations.
What are some of the main areas in which the UAE has incorporated AI?
As expressed before, Finance, Healthcare and Transportation are the most active sectors in adopting AI based/enabled products and solutions. For example, Dubai’s RTA is conducting Proof of Concept trials on Autonomous Taxi and smart AI based Intersections. Also, there are ongoing trials on detection of traffic violations and distracted drivers using AI techniques. However, almost all other sectors of the nation are also evaluating their strategies with respect to digital transformation and the adoption of AI based/enables products, such as Agriculture and Security. Many agencies such as police already have positions for “Director Artificial Intelligence”.
What about AI in security? Can you tell us something about this area?
AI is playing a vital role in security. This resulted mainly from advances in computer vision, image processing, machine learning (particularly deep learning) and adoption of new sensors such as Light Detection and Ranging (LiDAR). Combining LiDAR with cameras in an AI security platform can automate existing CCTV security systems by focusing on the instance of the crime or situations preceding the crime, thereby preventing the crime.
On the other hand, AI can allow the fusion of video images, social media activity, travel records, and personal identity into a “security data base.” This integrated database enables authorities to keep track of criminals, potential law-breakers, and terrorists.
What are some of the AI in security products that your company offers today?
AiTech4U which was established only 5 months ago, has two AI-based security products at the moment:
“Accur8vision” is an AI-based product to protect critical infrastructures such as Airports, Seaports, Oil&Gas, Nuclear Power Plants, Prisons and Residential Compounds. The area to be protected is modelled in 3D, where location of cameras and lidars are determined. Then scenarios for violations and alarms are defined, including AI tools. This facilitates automation of the surveillance and not merely the manual monitoring of TV screens.
“Prophecy” which is an AI-based system of total awareness, perception, cognition and prediction, with multidata source for auto detection, identification, prevention and preemption of crimes and terrorists. It facilitates the combination of video images, social media activity, structured data bases, and identity information into a single command and control system. This system enables authorities to keep track of and capture criminals, potential law-breakers, and terrorists.
How would you evaluate the job scene in the country/region once technology and AI is fully implemented? Is it true that human beings will become completely redundant? Or will humans and robots be able to work side by side?
UAE and other GCC countries who follow similar steps as UAE will take advantages of AI as new tool empowering people similar to preceding ICT evolutions, namely: the Internet, Mobile, Broadband, IOT, Cloud, Smartphones and Smart Cities.
The main concern about AI is the perception of being a faster revolution that could generate redundant people before being displaced into new jobs. The job scene will be safe when AI is well understood and incorporated into the national strategic plan and integrated within sectors’ Digital Transformation strategies. Having an AI Minister and National AI strategy defining its vision, mission, preparedness and regulatory/policy ecosystem will ensure proper coordination that would take care of AI impacts on job dynamics. H.E. Omar Bin Sultan Al Olama, the Minister of AI in UAE explained roles of government in addressing this issue by planning the upgrade of people to the new jobs and making sure that there will be no graduates to jobs that will disappear.
In a panel discussion on AI at Dtec last December, I was asked what my advice would be to a student who is just entering the University? My answer is that he should study the domain that he likes best, be it medicine, agriculture, business, engineering….etc. Ideally, there will be courses in his domain curriculum that explain the use of AI in such domain.
One wise view is that AI, Robotics and Automation will free people from repetitive, boring and complex tasks that are better and more accurately done by machines, while let decisions, supervision and high level more exciting human tasks to be performed by humans.
According to Gartner prediction 2018, over the coming 2 years, AI will become a positive net job motivator, creating 2.3 million jobs while eliminating only 1.8 million jobs. Therefore, with proper “fair” and “intelligent” planning the net job outcome could be made positive.
How would you describe future of AI in the region? What will some of the major trends be?
In addition to the economic contribution described before, “Customer Experience” is considered by most leaders as the prime factor driving the deployment of AI. I may include the following AI benefits and products that will be experienced in the coming 5 years:
1. Speed and efficiency of financial and government transactions resulting from AI enabled virtual assistants and chatbots,
2. Autonomous types of vehicles such as autonomous taxis and autonomous delivery,
3. Autonomous chairs in Expo2020, airports, malls, hotels, residential compounds, and ultimately in
Makkah & Madinah.
4. AI enabled better and faster health diagnostic machines assisting doctors
5. Special AI-based care for the elderly
6. AI based retrofit for vehicle safety
Any other information about AI that you would like to add
I would like to point out that AI technology has been there for many decades. During my PhD at the Royal Institute of Technology, Stockholm, Sweden, where i studied a book written in 1969 named “Brains, Mathematics and Machines – by Arbib” which included most of the theories and mathematics about AI. The challenge was to use the computer power to understand the model of the brain, and consequently develop computer architecture that perform similar to the brain model!! Today, the current AI algorithms used in deep learning are attempting to emulate aspects of human brain. This became real in recent years due to the availability of large volumes of data combined with high processing power and innovative algorithms.