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Middle East and West have much to learn from each other to unleash AI’s potential, expert Reza says

Learning about the Growing Use of Intelligent Automation with Generative Artificial Intelligence

Crown Prince Mohammed bin Salman has long recognized artificial intelligence (AI) as one of the most emerging technologies of our time, making the technology one of the cornerstones of his Vision 2030 strategic framework. According to AI expert Ahmed Reza, this bet is likely to result in the Kingdom becoming a major player in the AI ecosystem.

“Saudi Arabia was one of the first countries to recognize the potential of AI as part of a nationwide effort,” says Reza, founder & CEO of AI company, Yobi. “The incorporation of AI into the Vision 2030 strategic framework reflects a forward-thinking approach that has given the kingdom a head start in the global AI race.”

With generative AI models like ChatGPT and Bard taking the world by storm after their developers made them public, governments have struggled to take a stance. For example, Italy initially banned ChatGPT in March. Its decision was based on existing privacy laws that weren’t specifically designed to regulate AI.

“The Kingdom’s plans for the Middle East to become the ‘new Europe’ are reflected by its approach to AI and other technologies,” explains Reza, who has previously talked about the West’s approach to AI. “However, I believe that collaboration is key for us to truly take advantage of the potential that technologies like AI have to change the world,” he added.

Reza’s startup has been working on the development of synthetic agents capable of running marketing, customer service, and sales operations. He also established a reputation as a mentor, community builder, and advisor. Through all of these endeavors and years of experience, Reza has grown convinced that the best way to go when it comes to AI is to learn from each other independently of regional and political barriers.

“It’s been a truly rewarding experience to have the chance to connect and exchange ideas with some remarkable figures in the field – namely, Amr Awadallah, Emad Mostaque, Mohammed Aljebreen, and Abdulsalam Almadani, and meeting with Rayan Fayez at the Milken Summit in Abu Dhabi remains an enlightening moment for me,” says Ahmed. “What’s remarkable about all these individuals is their shared belief in a multicultural approach to AI. All of these thought leaders actively promote a multicultural approach to AI, mirroring the emphasis on diversity in innovation that’s so crucial to the tech industry’s growth,” he added.

Having traveled to Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East, Reza has grown familiar with the local tech scene, experiencing the region’s transformation first hand. One aspect that surprised Reza was the positive attitude by Saudis toward AI products and services, which according to Stanford University is shared by 76% of the population.

“Saudi Arabia and other countries in the Middle East have made significant strides in embracing AI and leveraging its benefits for societal progress. The United States and Europe have the expertise, history, resources, and infrastructure to drive AI innovation, on the other hand.” says Reza. “We need to recognize that progress hasn’t been limited to a single region or cultural perspective. It is not a matter of any given reason ‘winning’ the race.”

Collaboration between the West and the Middle East is already taking place. Not only have AI experts in the Kingdom spent time learning abroad, but Western powerhouses have also come to the East.

In March of this year, Deloitte announced it would be collaborating with MCIT to open the Deloitte Digital Delivery Center in Riyadh, offering students new opportunities. The firm also hosted its Experience Analytics conference in the city, bringing some of the world’s top AI experts to the kingdom.

“Just like AI has immense potential to make the world a better place, there are also challenges that need to be addressed,” concludes Reza, who was in conversation with heads of state in the Middle East in May. “I believe there are a lot of lessons to be learned from Saudi Arabia’s approach to AI regulation and development. Global collaboration is crucial in harnessing the full potential of AI and overcoming its challenges.”

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