AI Start-ups In The City
As part of Dubai’s drive to become the smartest smart city in the world, US$270 million (AED 991,780) has been ploughed into the Dubai-based Future Endowment Fund, which invests in innovation and means Dubai is now incubating dozens of emerging start-ups.
Green-tech start-up Facilio uses AI for its facilities management software to make buildings smarter. Founder and CEO Prabhu Ramachandran says Dubai has a “booming” real estate sector; Facilio is already installed in “multiple” sites in Dubai and the company has an “aggressive” growth plan for the city.
Flochat, which has offices in Silicon Oasis, is aiming to revolutionise communication with an instant messenger that allows users to use third-party apps and services - including Zomato, Groupon and Uber - to book, order and transact. In-app AI Floda helps it adapt to user behaviour and preferences. UAE managing director Zoya Bilgrami says Dubai is “riding the AI technology wave”, with communication “central to everything we do in life”.
Robocop Now A Reality
No part of the public sector is embracing AI more than the city’s police force. Dubai Police aims to be fully AI-powered by 2031, using AI to reduce crime rates by 25 per cent. As far back as 2016, it began using Minority Report-style crime prediction software to analyse patterns from police databases.
Now it is trialling a life-sized robotic policeman, equipped with cameras and facial recognition software, to scan and check faces and vehicle licence plates against a police database.
In its separate Project Oyoon (Arabic for ‘eyes’), Dubai Police is putting tens of thousands of AI-equipped surveillance cameras into Dubai, with an innovative aquarium tunnel of cameras at Dubai Airport scanning faces and irises.
Dubai Police was one of the key participants at the World AI Show in 2018, held at The Address, Dubai Mall, in April. In all, more than 200 attendees from 20 countries came for the inaugural event.
Industry Leaders Converge At AI Show
Susan Oh, the chair for AI at the United Nations General Assembly, took part in a panel discussion at the event, while Mohammed Saleem, chief executive officer of event organiser Trescon, says the highlight of the show was the presentation of US AI company Sparkcognition’s DeepNLP, which can allow machines to use and understand language just like humans, to classify and retrieve data from documents.
As Dubai ramps up for this AI-led future, Oracle is training 500 Emiratis in AI for their future jobs, with a view to creating AI-related degrees. It ran its own Global Artificial Intelligence Summit in the city in January, while the annual World Government Summit in Dubai also introduced a global forum for AI governance in 2018.
The Dubai and UAE governments are “amongst the first in the world to have proactively taken AI initiatives,” says Oracle’s Steve Miranda, executive vice president for applications product development. AI, he says, has the power to be “more transformative than any other technology in recent history”.
Oracle predicts that, by 2019, cognitive computing, AI and machine learning will be the fastest-growing segments of software development. AI is expected to contribute US$15.7 trillion (AED57.67 billion) to the global economy by 2030, according to PricewaterhouseCoopers (PwC), and US$96 billion (AED352 billion) to the UAE’s economy.
Levtech Consulting, headquartered in Jumeirah Lake Towers, uses AI and machine learning to enable business transformation for its customers. AI allows us to analyse and make sense of data to generate “actionable insights”, says CEO Anilesh Kumar. In retail, that means personalising shopping while in real estate it helps landlords understand the needs of every tenant. AI will, Kumar says, play a key role in driving “mass personalisation”.
Levtech is proud, he says, to be based in Dubai and contributing to the city’s AI strategy. “It is one of the fastest growing cities globally and the technology gateway for the Middle East,” he adds. “The rapid pace of digital transformation, which the government is spearheading, is phenomenal.”
Already on a mission to lead the world in artificial intelligence (AI), the city played host to the first edition of an innovative World AI Show in April 2018 with a view to becoming an annual event.
AI, says Saleem, started with automation and is no longer a “pipe dream”. But he saw a “visible absence” of platforms such as the World AI Show to discuss futuristic technology.
Why hold it in Dubai? Saleem points to the country’s “eagerness” to implement and develop AI. As an example, he highlights the UAE creating a dedicated AI ministry in 2017 - a world first - and appointing Omar bin Sultan Al Olama as Minister of Artificial Intelligence, at the age of 27.