Saudi Arabia recently announced its plans to join in on the artificial intelligence (AI) revolution. On Friday, King Salman bin Abdulaziz issued a royal decree to establish a National Authority for Data and Artificial Intelligence. Under it, the country will see the opening of a National Center for AI and a National Data Management office.
The order came among several others including one that is set to see the kingdom create a new ministry for Industry and Mineral Resources, which will be called the Ministry of Energy.
This is the first time the kingdom officially announces its shift towards AI technologies. Here's all you need to know about its futuristic authority:
1. The new authority is set to launch Saudi Arabia into the digital world
The kingdom's Minister of Communications and Information Technology Abdullah Al-Sawaha said both the AI authority and center will enhance the country's "drive toward innovation and digital transformation." He added that the establishment of the center reflects the country's determination to develop its digital capabilities and build a future based on AI and innovation.
Al-Sawaha also explained that AI would have a positive impact on all sectors in the kingdom because it can boost productivity and decision-making processes across. This will, in turn, render services provided to Saudi citizens more efficient. In addition to that, building an AI-centered future will open new horizons to motivate entrepreneurship and support young people.
2. The authority comes in line with Vision 2030's goals
3. The National Center for AI will be handling tasks until the authority is ready to take over
It's going to take quite some time to get the authority up and running. Until it officially launches, the kingdom's National Information Center, which is organizationally linked to the up and coming government body, will take over its tasks and responsibilities.
This will continue until the statutory procedures necessary to enable the authority and its entities to carry out their powers, tasks, and responsibilities are completed.
4. The authority is tasked with overseeing the kingdom's AI revolution
The authority is expected to launch the kingdom into a futuristic, technologically-driven era. It will oversee the country's AI budget, contributions, and investments. It will also be focused on implementing programs aimed at training young Saudis in the field.
Saudi Arabia has been heavily investing in new technologies over the past few years. The country is said to have invested a whopping $135.2 billion (12.4 percent GDP) in AI alone.
A published report by AI consultancy firm Oxford Insights in collaboration with the International Development Research Center (IDRC) found that the kingdom and neighboring Gulf states including the UAE and Qatar "have all shown a strong commitment to developing their AI capabilities."
In 2017, the kingdom became the world's first-ever country to grant AI-powered humanoid robot Sophia citizenship.