The Artificial Intelligence (AI) & the Digital Phenomenon was a key topic for discussion at the recent World Economic Forum (WEF) Middle East and North Africa Conference that took place in Jordan from 19th – 21st May.

The conference was themed on ‘Enabling a Generational Transformation’ and bought together the foremost business, government and civil society leaders. Together, with my colleague (Head of our Middle East office) we represented Sia Partners, and were delighted to be part of this conversation and stimulating debates.

When Stephen Hawking, one of Britain’s pre-eminent scientists, said that efforts to create thinking machines pose a threat to our very existence – the world listened. In 2014 he told the BBC “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race.” His warning came in response to a question about a revamp of the technology he uses to communicate, which involves a basic form of Artificial Intelligence.

AI, however is not what it was portrayed to be when I was growing up on TV (mainly robots!) but in fact is anything from Instagram’s hashtag algorithms, Googles search engine, automated technology that greets us at Heathrow T5 (what happened to all those people and all those jobs right?), SIRI to self-driving cars. In fact AI is progressing rapidly. So rapidly that the language we were hearing at the World Economic Forum (WEF) was – Man, Woman, Machine.

And so it seems although the AI right now perform deep but still somewhat narrow tasks, the future of AI will take us to a landscape that’s not only deep but broad. In fact, in the future, AI will be so sophisticated it will outperform humans at every cognitive task.

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