Political leaders and dignitaries from all across the globe have gathered in Dubai for the sixth annual edition of the World Government Summit. The three-day event aims to examine and explore how digitalization of traditional industries will transform and completely revolutionize societies as we know them.
The landmark event attracted more than 4,000 participants from 140 countries, including heads of state and governments, as well as top-tier representatives of 16 international organizations.
Hosting more than 130 speakers across 120 interactive sessions, WGS 2018 featured six distinct forums that examined the challenges of vital sectors for the future with a view to finding the best resolutions for the greater global good. Furthermore, over 20 specialized global reports spanning key sectors and topics of the summit were launched during the event
The opening address at this year's World Government Summit was delivered by Founder and Chairman of the World Economic Forum in Davos, Professor Klaus Schwab. He praised the UAE for being a pioneering nation in terms of how it has embraced technology and digital transformation in order to improve the lives of its citizens. Professor Schwab stated that the acceleration of technological development over the past decade had been supersonic and unlike anything we had seen before, and he predicted that trend to continue with the emergence of 5G.
However, he did stress that income disparity and cybersecurity were both real issues of concern that need to be resolved and addressed in order to ensure that all of society and not just those of affluence benefited from these revolutionary technological advancements.
Professor Michio Kaku, a theoretical Physicist and Futurist, was next up on stage at the World Government Summit to deliver his keynote address which was entitled ‘Are Governments ready for a dynamic future'?
His phenomenally engaging and informative presentation wowed the crowd as he predicted how the future will look when digitalization has matured across all industries.
He declared that healthcare would be completely revolutionized due to the emergence of both robotics and augmented reality. He said that technological advancements are equipping medical professionals with the ability to map the human brain.
Professor Kaku said, "The next century could give us the "Connectome Project", which will enable us to map the human brain and eliminate mental illness. We've also created a pill, which once taken orally can convey pictures from inside your stomach to determine what exactly is inside your body. This means men no longer have to have uncomfortable colonoscopies."
The charismatic and colorful self-labelled ‘futurist' claimed that the world was moving towards ‘perfect capitalism', which basically cuts out the middle men and reduces the friction of capitalism. He also declared that new liquid biopsies had been created to tackle cancer by enabling people to detect if they had cancerous cells years before they would ever be diagnosed with the illness.
"In the future your toilet will be able to tell you if you've got cancer. Once you take the liquid biopsies, your bodily fluid can indicate if you've got cancer cells. The capsules have magnets inside the liquid biopsy which can identify if you've got cancerous cells. The word tumor will disappear from the English language."
In addition to this, he claimed that we can now upload memories into the human brain, something which was once considered preposterous. However, following successful tests on mice and apes, this method is now being used in some cases on Alzheimer patients. He also said that the internet of the future will be labelled Brain Net.
The professor concluded that AI will undoubtedly revolutionize our world and create millions of new jobs in the process. He played down the threat of robots overtaking humanity, stressing that robots were not yet self-aware. However, he did concede that by the end of this century they could develop self-awareness and if they do then that will pose a serious threat to our existence.
He said, "AI will create new industries and jobs. It will revolutionize our society. However, some are afraid that robots will take over. But they won't become a threat until the end of this century. They need to develop self-awareness in order to be a threat to humanity.
On the second day of the World Government Summit 2018, Director General of Dubai Municipality, His Excellency Eng. Hussein Lootah delivered a brilliant presentation which was entitled ‘Building the future of creative cities'. During his address the Director General officially announced that Dubai Municipality plans to launch a data collection satellite - which will be utilized to monitor the UAE from space - and will convey vital information that identifies various environmental factors ranging from marine conditions to air quality.
The Director General of Dubai Municipality said, "For a city to thrive in the future, the government has to look at current challenges facing its vital sectors and consider how the application of cutting-edge technologies can become an alternative solution. Dubai has focused intently on innovations in the fields of artificial intelligence, data analysis and enhanced connectivity that will be the cornerstones for decision-making. These technologies will help support the government in developing the infrastructure that can withstand the challenges of the next century. We must never forget that attaining excellence requires continuous work and effort."
In addition to this, H.E. Eng. Lootah disclosed that Dubai Municipality is actively pursuing innovative filtering processes in its attempts to increase salinity in sea water - and is engaged in smart sustainable waste management which will see autonomous smart bins replacing existing bin collection units as part of the Dubai 10X platform.
Eng. Lootah added, "One such challenge for the UAE is the increased salinity in sea water. Dubai Municipality has taken on this challenge by working on alternative means of sourcing potable water, and leveraging new filtration processes. We have also started building power plants that harness energy from waste through sustainable means, which are also an innovative method of waste management."
Under the direction of the Director General, Dubai Municipality has evolved into a center of excellence and innovation through integrating advanced information and communication technology into the city's infrastructure and operations. The institution is spearheading Dubai's transformation into one of the smartest cities in the world.
Richard Quest of CNN then moderated a panel discussion with CEO of du, Osman Sultan and the President of The Foundation for Futuristic Cities Karuna Gopal in an interactive session which was entitled ‘Technology and the future of smart living.'
CEO of du, Osman Sultan said that it was critical in this era of digital transformation that governments from all over the world consulted with each other in order to resolve and address concerns raised by technological advancement. He claimed that if the government and private sector collaborate and engage in dialogue then the uncertainties presented by digital opportunities can be utilized to improve the lives of citizens on a global basis.
He said, "In today's digital environment, nations need to talk to each other as technology issues become increasingly generalized in a hyper-connected global world. We need to ask the right questions and seek to find the right answers in a world full of uncertainty. If governments and the private sector properly embrace this uncertainty through dialogue and collaboration, we can turn it into digital opportunities for all through smart technologies and ultimately enhanced quality of living."
The sentiments of Mr. Osman Sultan were echoed by Mrs. Gopal who also urged on the government and private sector to engage in discussions in relation to emerging technologies in order to successfully implement the structures required to achieve success.
She said, "Smart living started more than a decade ago and things have advanced at a tremendous level in recent times. Today, what is needed is extreme collaboration, even more than just protocols achieved through memoranda of understanding. To maximize future opportunities that have been introduced through smart technologies, we need to ensure governments collectively engage in dialogue and focus on collaboration to achieve results."
When pressed by Richard Quest on whether or not we should be worried about the potential negative impact AI may have on employment with 40% of current jobs expected to disappear due to the emergence of AI - and the pace in which technology is currently evolving, Mr. Osman Sultan eased fears by saying that this was a ‘normal trend'.
The CEO of du said, "I don't think we should be concerned. Technology is evolving at a much faster pace than ever before, I accept that. But I think it's a normal trend throughout history. In the past when we developed the technology, we corrected it, we regulated it and we moderated it. We'll do the same with emerging technologies like AI, Robotics, Blockchain, 5G and the Internet of Things."