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Huawei, a leading global provider of information and communications technology (ICT) infrastructure and smart devices, held an Artificial Intelligence (AI) conference at their third annual Innovation Day on the sidelines of GITEX 2018.

The event attracted industry experts and government leaders, including the guest of honor and keynote speaker, Mothanna Hamdan Gharaibeh, Jordan Minister of ICT, to strategize on the best path forward to bringing AI to the Middle East.

Huawei organized the conference to foster a discussion on how the Middle East can best position itself to benefit from the imminent arrival of AI.

The development of a national AI strategy must become a priority, as AI is a central aspect of national development plans and visions in the region to become diversified, knowledge-based economies. As AI becomes more advanced, it is becoming an all-purpose technology which will drive the development of all industries, creating new venues of innovation and growth.

H.E. Mothanna Gharaibeh, ICT Minister Jordan said: "Investing in AI is an investment in the future. AI has the potential to solve many intractable challenges we are facing across industries today, by transforming the way we approach problems, and completing tasks more effectively and efficiently than humans can. It will also free people from spending our labour on tedious and repetitive tasks, allowing us to use our minds to engage in high-level activities. Investing in Jordan ICT is not only valuable, it is also smart; Jordan is perfectly poised to benefit from the opportunities of AI - we have at our disposal a population of talented and innovative entrepreneurs. By continuing to invest in progressing the ICT industry, and its next evolution in the form of AI, we will open new venues of innovation and economic growth for organizations, and uplift the Kingdom to new heights of prosperity."

Anwaar Al Shimmari, Chief Innovation Officer, Ministry of Infrastructure Development, UAE, gave a keynote about the benefits of AI in meeting global infrastructure demands and the ability of robots to deliver information faster, reduce costs and risks. She said: "Robots will use building facility management and asset management concepts to monitor and control infrastructure assets".

The Middle East is one of the first regions worldwide to import Huawei's recently-unveiled revolutionary AI products and solutions. The AI conference was held just a week after Huawei Rotating Chairman Eric Xu announced the global launch of Huawei's AI strategy, as well as its full-stack, all-scenario AI portfolio. Huawei's AI portfolio includes its new Ascend series of AI chips - the world's first AI IP and chip series designed for a full range of scenarios. The portfolio also includes new products and cloud services that are built on Ascend chip capabilities. With its full-stack AI portfolio, Huawei aims to provide pervasive intelligence to help drive industry development and build a fully connected, intelligent world.

Ten future changes: Driving Huawei's AI strategy:
Huawei predicts that by 2025, the world will see upwards of 40 billion personal smart devices, and 90% of device users will have a smart digital assistant. Data utilization will reach 86% and AI services will be readily available, as prevalent as the air we breathe. According to Huawei, AI has become a new general purpose technology and will change all industries and organizations on earth.

Proactive change is the first step towards a better future in AI. Huawei has defined ten changes that will help pave the way. They include:

  • Faster model training
  • Abundant and affordable computing power
  • AI deployment and user privacy
  • New algorithms
  • AI automation
  • Practical application
  • Real-time, closed-loop system
  • Multi-tech synergy
  • Platform support
  • Talent availability

These ten changes are not only Huawei's hope for the AI industry; they are the inspiration behind its AI strategy.

Huawei's AI strategy has five areas of focus:
Invest in AI research: Develop fundamental capabilities for machine learning in domains like computer vision, natural language processing, and decision/inference, etc. Huawei places special emphasis on machine learning that is:

  • data and power-efficient (i.e., less data, computing, and power needed)
  • secure and trusted
  • automated/autonomous
  • Build a full-stack AI portfolio:
  • Deliver abundant and affordable computing power
  • Provide an efficient and easy-to-use AI platform with full-pipeline services
  • Make the portfolio adaptive to all scenarios, both standalone and cooperative scenarios between cloud, edge, and device
  • Develop an open ecosystem and talent: Collaborate widely with global academia, industries, and partners.
  • Strengthen existing portfolio: Introduce an AI mindset and techniques into existing products and solutions to create greater value and enhance competitive strengths.
  • Drive operational efficiency at Huawei: Apply AI to massive volumes of routine business activities for better efficiency and quality.

Alaa ElShimy Managing Director and Vice President at Huawei Enterprise Business Group, said, "AI is on the verge of transforming industries and organizations across the world, and we are committed to helping our customers and partners make the most of the technology's potential to unlock innovation and economic growth. Right now the priority is for industry and government leaders to discuss which challenges and opportunities AI can most immediately address, to convert this cutting-edge technology into profitability for organizations. This AI conference will help us, and regional governments, succeed in our mission to position the Middle East for success in the age of AI."

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