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Effective collaboration crucial for harnessing full potential of AI, says Rabdan Academy President

Effective collaboration crucial for harnessing full potential of AI, says Rabdan Academy President
26 May 2024 16:15

SARA ALZAABI (ABU DHABI)

Legality, ethics, morals and personal privacy are crucial considerations in shaping the use of artificial intelligence (AI) in the fields of safety, security, and defence, said H.E. James Morse, President of Rabdan Academy.

In an interview with Aletihad on the sidelines of the ISNR 2024 Conference, Morse stressed the importance of cybersecurity and artificial intelligence in the realms of safety and security, highlighting the necessity of effective cooperation between organisations.

As part of its efforts to foster collaboration among various stakeholders, Rabdan Academy is organising the ISNR 2024 conference as an academic partner to the International Exhibition for National Security & Resilience “that brings together international players in the safety, security, and defence fields”, he noted.

The academy provides security professionals with a multidisciplinary learning environment that fosters specialised, strong, and long-lasting national capabilities for the protection of the UAE and the international community.

As a key outcome of the conference, Morse highlighted the launch of the Rabdan Security and Defence Institute by His Highness Lieutenant General Sheikh Saif bin Zayed Al Nahyan, Deputy Prime Minister and Minister of Interior – a Think Tank that will focus on defence and security issues by leveraging a high-level network of senior researchers, academics and experts.

Rapid Evolution of AI – Friend or Foe?
"We are witnessing the rapid evolution of the use of artificial intelligence in current wars, most noticeably in unmanned systems," Morse stressed.

He noted that a major advantage of AI is its ability to process huge volumes of data, something that the human brain does not have the capacity to achieve.

"AI has the ability to process unbelievably large volumes of data very quickly, which a human cannot. Human brains often rely on heuristics — mental shortcuts that assist in making rapid decisions based on limited information. Conversely, with AI, decisions can be made rapidly based on vast quantities of data, and, if used correctly, potentially with fewer human biases and prejudices that often accompany such decisions."

However, an issue arises when AI algorithms are based on small or already biased databases, he warned.

Elaborating further, he highlighted that a challenge stems from the potential for bias in an algorithm when the majority of data on which it has been taught comes from limited sources. This situation could potentially distort the AI system’s analysis, for example when it has been taught on limited data due to security classification or availability.

"This idea of bias within an algorithm becomes a significant concern, particularly if you are going to reach the point of allowing AI to make judgements and decisions," he said.

On the ethical use of AI in battlefields, he mentioned that significant concerns persist regarding the potential implications, particularly in determining who lives and dies.

"Do we really understand the algorithm and the data well enough to enable AI to make life and death decisions? There is extensive debate of this issue, whether with regard to unmanned systems, targeting systems and even in the field of nuclear deterrence, where there are obvious concerns about artificial intelligence making decisions with respect to weapons of mass destruction. Before AI, in the early days of automation, human judgement has luckily saved us from some very dangerous situations."

Providing an example, Morse said: "I am concerned that the realities of conflict often push the boundaries of what is legally and ethically acceptable, and add pressure to utilise AI before it is fully understood and ready. There are international laws and frameworks to govern such issues, but there is always the risk that in conflicts, some people might push and sometimes step over these boundaries as they fight for their lives and causes."

As for solutions, Morse outlined how Rabdan Academy promotes collaboration through training and education, fostering trust and networks between individuals and within organisations, and bridging boundaries to deter conflict and assist combat other threats to societies, such as organised crime and terrorists.

Honing Potential of AI in Education
AI is a crucial component of the Rabdan Academy's programmes, Morse said, highlighting its importance for the younger generation who must be able to use it as a tool and understand how it is changing the wider world. The Academy also taught students how to use generative AI, as part of their education and to give them the skills required in their future employment.

"We need to be preparing students for AI on a personal level, teaching them how to engage with AI, what it means, and ensuring they understand both its limitations and benefits." 

He also drew attention to AI’s potential to revolutionise the education system by providing a powerful tool for more engaging teaching.

"For example, if you are writing in your second language, AI can significantly improve the way you articulate and make arguments. It can help by analysing a larger range of sources, as long as you understand its functionality and constraints, reference it accordingly and consider the coherence of its output," Morse said.

Commenting further, he noted that virtual and augmented reality offer another powerful tool for supporting students and faculty, as it has the potential to transform education by offering immersive and experiential learning experiences, significantly improving on the previous use of less realistic simulation and synthetic environments.

The Academy President believes that over the next few years, AI will significantly impact teaching, for both students and faculty.

"I think the initial results of using these techniques show significantly higher student engagement. The younger generation is accustomed to working in gamified environments and virtual reality worlds, and they interact well with them," Morse stated.

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