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Experts discuss Artificial Intelligence at ESCWA

Beirut, Lebanon

Beirut, 1 July 2019 (ESCWA)— United Nations Under-Secretary-General and Executive Secretary of ESCWA Rola Dashti today said that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is the future and a must to achieve Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs). AI applications, with their ability to acquire information, analyze, and take prompt decisions, will uphold productivity and competitiveness of agricultural sectors, promote local industrial development, enhance industry efficiency and economic growth. Dashti’s remarks were delivered by ESCWA Deputy Executive Secretary Mounir Tabet during the opening of the expert group meeting on “Artificial Intelligence (AI) and Local Industrial Development”.
The opening session also featured statements by the Director General of the Arab Industrial Development and Mining Organization (AIDMO) Adel Sakr, and the owner of the largest intellectual property company Talal Abou Ghazaleh. Participants in the meeting included government officials, experts in the fields of industry and applications of AI, representatives from civil society, private sector, innovators and inventors, and academia.
Dashti added that “this cross-bordering technology is our way to join the Fourth Industrial Revolution (4IR). If we take advantage of the enormous opportunities it offers, we will advance in achieving sustainable development, but if we fail to do so, we will be marginalized.” She called for drafting guidelines for policymakers to make use of when developing national policies and strategies harnessing AI in a safe and productive way, and also for taking legislative, regulatory and innovative measures in various fields, such as education, employment, empowerment of women and youth, institution-building, infrastructure and governance.
For his part, Sakr pointed out that 4IR will impact all the aspects of human activity as a result of technology development related to large data, AI, four-dimensional printing, internet of things and the fifth-generation cellular network technology. He added that keeping pace with the 4IR progress in the world has become dependent on how fast societies and economies can cope with these developments. He said that AIDMO is keen to keep pace with the future industries that are based on knowledge as a major pillar in the growth of Arab economy through formulating and implementing specialized programs and events.
In his statement, Abou Ghazaleh pointed to the painful non-political situation in the Arab region, referring to the challenges faced by the education sector. “In the midst of the technology revolution, only 1 percent of the schools teach AI. Schools are causing harm to young generations as they only prepare them to find work at a later stage and not to be creative and innovative in the future, that’s why we need a revolution in the educational sector,” he said. He added that as the world is heading towards the knowledge revolution, students at the Talal Abou Ghazaleh University College have to present an innovative project to obtain their degrees.
The meeting, which will last till Tuesday 2 July, will focus on the contribution and impact of AI on local industrial development. Experts in the field of AI and Frontier Technologies will discuss topics related to AI and productivity, labour force impact and employment, and talent investment and infrastructure.


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