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Call for international standards on AI

By JAN YUMUL in Hong Kong | chinadaily.com.cn | Updated: 2023-11-03 19:32

New-age tech offers opportunities but also poses risks, Saudi-hosted cybersecurity forum hears

Majed bin Mohammed Al-Mayzed, governor of Saudi Arabia's National Cybersecurity Authority, address the opening ceremony of the third Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh on Nov 1. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

There is need for greater collaboration among all stakeholders to standardize the use of artificial intelligence (AI), given the rapid technological advancements and the deeper integration of smart devices into daily life, a conference in Riyadh heard on Nov 1.

In an address at the third Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh, which was held under the theme "Charting Shared Priorities in Cyberspace", Majed bin Mohammed Al-Mayzed, governor of Saudi Arabia's National Cybersecurity Authority, said that this year's cybersecurity forum would build upon last year's deep exploration and address the most pressing cyberspace issues, laying the groundwork for collaborative action.

"We are committed to bridging social and developmental divides, making sure no one is left behind and unleashing the potential of cyberspace to ensure that its opportunities are accessible to people all over the world, including our most underserved communities," said Al-Mayzed.

Amin H. Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi state energy giant Aramco, noted at the opening ceremony on Nov 1 that most of the software used today provide real-time access to data "to make better and faster decisions".

"Our collective security requires all collaboration between all stakeholders regionally or globally," said Nasser, also noting that while the world has made great progress in terms of new technologies, it is important to "keep our guard up".

Amin H. Nasser, president and CEO of Saudi state energy giant Aramco, address the Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh on Nov 1. PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

"That's why we must carefully assist every current and new technology to identify whether they can be a potential pathway for hackers to breach our system, and address any vulnerabilities before the technology is deployed," said Nasser.

"This approach enables us to harness the powerful potential of new digital innovation while mitigating the risk, which brings me to my next point — the power of AI. It's new, it's exciting and it's game-changing for many industries, including energy," he said.

With generative AI tools now part of everyday life, the economic potential "is truly astounding", Nasser said, adding that the new tools could add between $2.6 trillion and $4.4 trillion annually to the world economy.

But as with all major innovations, it has its own unique risks, he said, noting that some governments and businesses were taking a cautious risk management approach on the use of generative AI.

"As we consider these powerful new tools, it is important that we assess them carefully, as we have (done with) every other technology," the Saudi Aramco CEO said, informing the audience that Saudi Arabia "has already established robust AI control and guidelines to advance AI capabilities in a safe, secure and responsible way".

The world generated 97 zettabytes — or 97 trillion gigabytes — of data last year amid the digitalization trend, and the volume is predicted to reach 175 zettabytes by 2025, Nasser said.

All of this can be a force for good, helping businesses to serve their customers faster and better. "However, the rapid transformation we are witnessing has also made the world more vulnerable with increasing risks of cyberattacks," he said.

"While every industry faces threats, the energy sector, in particular, is an attractive target for those who want to do harm," said Nasser.

The third Global Cybersecurity Forum in Riyadh kicked off on Nov 1 with the theme "Charting Shared Priorities in Cyberspace". PROVIDED TO CHINA DAILY

In a session titled "Securing Tomorrow: Building Resilience Through Education", Yousef Al-Benyan, minister of education of Saudi Arabia, suggested a new approach in the education sector when it comes to having cybersecurity conversations in schools, which he said needed to be broadened beyond security concerns.

"We need to expand the view on cybersecurity to a different approach", instead of looking at it from a compliance perspective, or a system issue, Al-Benyan said.

The minister said it requires a change in management programs, as he pushed for embracing a more sophisticated transformation awareness protocol.

The third Global Cybersecurity Forum, a two-day event, was hosted jointly by Saudi Arabia's National Cybersecurity Authority and the Saudi Information Technology Company (SITE).

An estimated 150 speakers, industry experts, decision-makers and high-level representatives from various sectors, including the government and academia, as well as representatives from over 120 countries, attended the conference, according to the Saudi Press Agency.


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