AI for Good blog

AI Safety, Innovation, and Global Impact

Global Summit

By Celia Pizzuto


The AI for Good Global Summit 2024, held in Geneva, brought together leaders and innovators from various sectors to discuss the transformative potential of artificial intelligence (AI). Among the distinguished speakers was Dr. Najwa Aaraj, CEO of the Technology Innovation Institute (TII) in Abu Dhabi. Dr. Aaraj shared valuable insights into AI’s role in advancing technology, promoting safety and security, and supporting the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals (SDGs).

Dr. Aaraj began by introducing TII as a global R&D institute based in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates, focused on developing cutting-edge technologies. She mentioned that TII has 10 centers specializing in areas such as security, quantum, robotics, and other fields, with a special focus on AI. She highlighted TII’s commitment to pushing the state-of-the-art in generative AI and applying AI across multiple sectors to add significant value.

A key theme of the summit was how generative AI can help achieve the SDGs. Dr. Aaraj referenced a statement by the UN Deputy Secretary General during a recent special meeting of the Economic and Social Council, noting that if applied safely, AI technology can accelerate progress towards the SDGs, enhance decision-making, and drive innovation. This statement resonated with her, emphasizing AI’s potential to drive innovation and solve critical societal issues while acknowledging the need to address its risks.

Discussing AI’s applications, Dr. Aaraj noted its potential across various domains.

“If we think from healthcare to sustainable transportation, to more life-critical situations where today it is unsafe for humans to get in, […] AI powered systems […] can unlock new solutions and provide a new pathway for sustainable development,” she explained.

She stressed that AI could unlock new opportunities and provide innovative solutions to some of society’s most challenging problems.

When asked about the role of robots, Dr. Aaraj highlighted their significance in AI-enabled systems, noting that their brain is an AI program that helps with perception, navigation, control, and manipulation.

“[Robots are] a very useful tool for society in general. […] They can increase efficiency whether it is from an operational perspective or a cost perspective, they can increase safety […] for example driving in unsafe situations, they can even improve the efficiency of surgeries and healthcare [as well as] help you browse through hazardous environments,” she noted.

Dr. Aaraj participated in a panel discussion focused on safety and security in AI. She emphasized the importance of integrating safety and security considerations into AI development.

“For the past few years, we have always been seeing the race in large language models […]. It is the time to start thinking about how trustworthy […] and safe this model is,” she asserted.

She called for transparency in AI models and stressed the importance of protecting data privacy, especially in healthcare applications. She added that privacy-preserving techniques, anonymization, and other methods are crucial to protect medical records and foster adoption.

Highlighting TII’s initiatives, Dr. Aaraj spoke about the Falcon Foundation, which aims to inspire innovation in AI. TII has launched a series of homegrown open-source large language models, called the Falcon Series, which have ranked top among existing models. The Falcon Foundation, established earlier this year, is dedicated to advancing the development of open-source generative AI models and building sustainable innovation. She explained that the foundation has committed $300 million to fund innovative ideas related to model architecture, accuracy, safety, and application layers.

Dr. Aaraj emphasized the importance of collaboration and innovation in AI development.

“We want to bridge the AI divide, […] have AI accessible to all, and we believe in the transformational and innovative power of open sourcing,” she stated.

She highlighted TII’s commitment to fostering a collaborative environment to drive AI innovation.

Concluding the interview, Dr. Najwa Aaraj underscored the transformative potential of AI and the importance of addressing its risks responsibly. Her insights at the AI for Good Global Summit emphasized TII’s dedication to leveraging AI for societal benefit, focusing on innovation, safety, and collaboration. By advancing AI technologies and promoting open-source initiatives, TII aims to contribute to global efforts in achieving the SDGs and solving critical societal challenges. Dr. Aaraj highlighted the transformative power of AI in various fields, stressing the critical role of safety, innovation, and collaboration in its development. Her vision for AI combines technological advancement with a strong ethical framework, ensuring that AI developments are secure, transparent, and beneficial for all. As AI continues to evolve, the strategies and initiatives she emphasized provide a roadmap for harnessing technology to benefit society at large.

Technology Innovation Institute (TII)

Watch the full interview here.

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