Date: August 1, 2023
In this Op-Ed by Suresh V Shankar, CEO of Crayon Data, discusses how the Frontier Model Forum’s mission resonates with the UAE’s vision for AI development.
Generative AI – the current big thing everyone talks about. Globally, governments around the world have been reactive. The US, the EU, China, and many other countries have passed new legislation. Even the tech leaders shaping this technology have come together to regulate their creations following rising concerns about AI safety.
The Frontier Model Forum (FMF) is a public-private partnership launched in July 2023 by OpenAI, Microsoft, Google, and Anthropic. The FMF’s mission is to encourage safe and accountable development and regulation of “frontier AI models” and to support research into the potential risks and how to handle them. The FMF has brought together academia, industry, and government experts to achieve these goals.
The UAE has been ahead of the curve in understanding the potential of AI early. It was the first country in the world to appoint a State Minister for AI, while the first national AI strategy was formulated as early as October 2017. In March 2023, the government-funded Technology Innovation Institute (TII) released Falcon 40B. This is an open-source Large Language Model (LLM) with 40 billion parameters and rivals Open AI’s ChatGPT. Over the next 15 years, the aim is to pioneer AI tools, applications, and systems.
The UAE also puts a premium on banking technologies that use AI in innovative ways. The thriving ecosystem of BFSI start-ups and AI adoption is a testament to this. AI-led personalization and revenue acceleration are key areas of interest to many banks and travel companies. Crayon Data’s maya.ai platform has been precisely solving this for major banks in the region. We’ve launched a first-of-its-kind personalized lifestyle marketplace for a leading Islamic bank in UAE. The result: $16.4 M incremental spending annually. In neighboring Africa, we are creating a revolution in fintech, with new AI solutions driving business models like device financing-led wallets and micro-finance. This is expected to ramp up to three countries and millions of customers over the next year.
The FMF model aligns with the UAE’s commitment to promoting AI safety. A Smart Dubai Ethical AI Toolkit was launched back in 2019. It continues to be used by multiple entities to stay on track with their use of AI. In April 2023, the UAE proactively announced a “Generative AI Guide”.
The security and data privacy concerns that accompany all things AI are very real. A key focus area for the FMF is to “establish trusted, secure mechanisms for sharing information [about AI] among companies, governments and relevant stakeholders”. UAE’s active policymakers could well be a pioneer in the FMF’s efforts to shape the regulatory environment for frontier AI.
In all, it is clear that UAE is ahead of the curve in its alignment with the FMF and its mission and is alive to the technology’s potential and pitfalls. And tech pioneers are aligning with the national and global strategy to make AI a competitive differentiator for regional governments and enterprises.