Home » WGS: AI evolution, Palestine and the energy transition in focus on day two 

WGS: AI evolution, Palestine and the energy transition in focus on day two 

by Madaline Dunn

On day two of the World Government Summit, as the rain eased, delegates gathered once again to discuss a wide range of focus areas, from the Palestine crisis to the energy transition.

Likewise, AI was once again in the spotlight, with discussions exploring its potential as a new frontier, its applications in education, and the need for oversight. 

ESG Mena runs through today’s highlights, key announcements and topical discussions.

The Palestine crisis

The number of Palestinian lives taken by the ongoing Israel-Gaza war continues to soar, and according to research from Oxfam International, the death rate in Gaza is now higher than any other major 21st-century conflict. 

Just a few days ago, the health ministry in Gaza shared the latest shocking figures, that since October 7th, at least 28064 Palestinians have been killed, and 67611 have been injured.

The conflict has been an issue of discussion at WGS across the last two days, especially in light of the recent strikes on Rafah, the location where Israeli forces told displaced Palestinians to take shelter.

Today, at WGS, a number of parties, again, called for a ceasefire, including Turkish President Recep Tayyip Erdogan.

“If Israel wants lasting peace in the region, it must stop pursuing expansionist dreams and accept the existence of an independent Palestinian state based on the 1967 borders,” he said. 

“Every step taken will be incomplete, and the problem will remain unsolved without the establishment of an independent, sovereign and geographically integrated Palestinian state within the 1967 borders, with Jerusalem as its capital,” he added. 

The issue was raised again in a talk titled, “Dialogue on Regional Challenges and Future Opportunities, where His Excellency Ahmed Aboul Gheit, Secretary General of the League of Arab States, and His Excellency Jasem Al Budaiwi, Secretary General of the Gulf Cooperation Council, outlined that the Palestinian crisis has become the biggest challenge facing Arab and GCC countries. 

Both called on Israel to stop the war in Gaza and return to negotiations.

The AI revolution incoming?

Elsewhere, a topic that received a significant amount of attention on day two was AI. 

One session hosted a conversation between Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI and Founder of ChatGPT and H.E. Omar AlOlama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications, UAE, the world’s first minister of AI.

Speaking about AI’s potential, Altman said: “Imagine a world where everyone gets a great personal tutor, a great personalized medical advice, and how we can use these tools to discover new sciences and build healthy environments.”

Adding: “You will be able to use these tools to do things that the people in the generation before you couldn’t imagine.”

Alongside this, however, he also called for a global AI regulatory body, and suggested the UAE could lead the way here, as the world’s regulatory sandbox. “I often use the example of the IAEA, the International Atomic Energy Agency, as a model for handling the impact of the most powerful AI systems. Establishing auditing and safety measures before deploying superintelligence or artificial general intelligence (AGI) is crucial.”

“For various reasons, the UAE would be well-positioned to lead discussions on this matter.”

Likewise, Altman said that ahead, AI will be completely different: “In a few more years, the technology will be much better than it is now and, in a decade, it should be remarkable.”

Elsewhere, in another session exploring AI’s current capabilities, Dr. Yann LeCun, Turing Award Laureate, Vice President and Chief AI Scientist at Meta, said that at present, AI’s cognitive abilities are less sophisticated than that of a cat, and said the technology is still a way off from contending with the abilities of the human mind. 

Of course, just last year, headlines were awash with AI experts warning of AI’s “existential threat,” with an open letter signed by 1,100 AI experts calling for a six-month moratorium on the training of AI systems more powerful than GPT-4.

Today, the session with LeCun aimed to unravel some of the myths and misconceptions around AI and address the fears of an “AI-driven apocalypse.”

Today also saw His Excellency Al Olama inaugurate the “Building Responsible Artificial Intelligence Forum (BRAIN).”

There, His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama said: “Approximately 97 million people are expected to work in the field of artificial intelligence which underscore the importance for governments to recognize the potential of this transformative force. Understanding its capabilities is crucial for bringing about fundamental changes and adapt to its various trends to achieve the best possible utilization of these technologies for the development of the digital economy.”

Peak oil demand, the energy transition & climate change 

The energy transition was another topic of discussion across different panels and sessions today, and in one discussion, OPEC Secretary General Haitham Al-Ghais said that current oil demand means that peak oil demand is “probably something way far out.” This is at odds with the IEA’s prediction that global demand for oil, natural gas and coal will peak by 2030, forecasting the beginning of the end of the fossil fuel era. 

Al-Ghais, on the other hand, said the world cannot “just unplug from the current energy system overnight.”

“We have to deal with energy transitions with pragmatism,” he said, while also outlining that Opec see’s world oil demand reaching 116 million barrels a day (bpd) by 2045.

This projection is far from what climate experts say is required to maintain global warming at 1.5 degrees. Indeed, at the opening of COP28, UN Secretary-General António Guterres himself said that 1.5 is only possible if we “ultimately stop burning all fossil fuels.”

Today, looking ahead to COP29, H.E. Mukhtar Babayev, Minister of Ecology and Natural Resources, Republic of Azerbaijan, and COP29 President, said that realising a sustainable and equitable future requires the “mobilization of finance for mitigation, adaptation and loss and damage” with joint efforts by countries, international organisations and the private sector.

Meanwhile, in another session today, HE Saeed Mohammed Al Tayer, MD & CEO of Dubai Electricity and Water Authority (DEWA) outlined how the transition to renewable energy is “reshaping global power dynamics.”

He highlighted the solar-rich countries in the Middle East and the wind-rich countries in northern Europe as gaining strategic importance in the global energy landscape while also emphasising the importance of energy storage in enabling grid integration of renewable energy. 

He also reiterated the IEA’s conclusion from its recent World Energy Outlook 2023 that while “extremely difficult,” the path to limiting global warming to 1.5 degrees is still available.

Agreements signed & reports released

Today also witnessed the release of a number of reports, from the Deloitte “Government acceleration and transformation,” report and the Global Economic Diversification Index, to the WGS-Bain & Company report on filling the ambition and action gap.

Various agreements were also signed, including a cooperation agreement between Dubai Municipality and the United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) to support the ‘Artificial Intelligence in Dubai: Pioneering Urban Intelligence for a Comprehensive and Sustainable Future’ project.

The UAE also signed agreements focused on investment and taxation with the State of Kuwait, the Kingdom of Bahrain, the Arab Republic of Egypt, and the World Bank.

Tune in tomorrow for ESG Mena’s coverage of the third and final day of the World Government Summit. 

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