Skip to content Skip to Search
Skip navigation

ChatGPT founder’s visit gets Dubai talking about AI

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, is visiting Dubai as part of a global PR blitz aiming to dispel concerns about ChatGPT Reuters/Lucy Nicholson
Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, is visiting Dubai as part of a global PR blitz aiming to dispel concerns about ChatGPT
  • Sam Altman’s PR blitz comes as regulators scrutinise safety of ChatGPT
  • Calls for pause on AI experiments for development of safety protocols
  • ChatGPT’s ability to write essays concerns education sector

Sam Altman, CEO of OpenAI, the company that created controversial artificial intelligence-powered chatbot ChatGPT, is heading to Dubai this summer as part of a world tour to meet with users, developers and policymakers.

Industry observers say the executive’s stop in the city is recognition of the Gulf’s digital advancement and anticipate that OpenAI will establish an office in the UAE.

Altman’s global PR blitz comes as regulators worldwide are scrutinising safety and privacy implications of ChatGPT after Italy became the first country to temporarily block the popular bot for failing to check the age of users, and the “absence of any legal basis that justifies the massive collection and storage of personal data”.

Last month an online letter, signed by technology leaders including Elon Musk and Apple Computer co-founder Steve Wozniak, called for a six-month “pause” on giant AI experiments, to allow regulators to develop safety protocols.

Rahul Daswani, a Dubai-based independent fintech expert, said he expects Altman’s discussions with UAE regulators to be around “how much and how fast” AI can transform economic development.

“Dubai is now being spoken in the same breath as London or Singapore as a technology and financial services centre,” he told AGBI

“The nation’s builders show clear intent to use these new tools to advance sustainable development goals in the UAE and to export to the larger Asian and Africa continents.

“I would also expect discussion around how data privacy can be maintained using a sovereign cloud, as the country will not want to provide keys to its gene pool and consumer and financial records to private entities.”

Carrington Malin, a consultant in the UAE focusing on emerging technologies, said Italy’s ban of ChatGPT is a “wake-up call” for OpenAI to engage with regulators globally “sooner rather than later”. 

“The more regulators feel ill informed or that laws are being ignored, the greater the risk of further bans,” he said.

“As with any new, little understood, technology, we’re only one big scandal away from a crackdown.” 

The Italian government also banned San Francisco startup Replika’s chatbot – marketed as “an AI companion who cares”– for posing risks to children and emotionally fragile people, and for storing personal data of Italian minors.

Additionally, Replika’s competitor, Chai, is under fire in Belgium after the widow of a man who died by suicide reportedly accused the app’s chatbot of encouraging the user to kill himself.

“Any groundbreaking technology needs about half a generation for us to figure out its implications,” Ashish Panjabi, COO at Jacky’s Business Solutions, said.

“The UAE is ahead of the curve with a sandboxing approach to regulation to continue evolving technology instead of restricting it.”

The UAE’s Regulations Lab was launched in 2019 to proactively anticipate and develop future legislation for emerging technologies.

A federal law was also issued authorising the UAE cabinet to grant temporary licences to test and vet innovations such as AI.

For now, however, rule-makers are struggling to play policy catch-up. 

ChatGPT’s ability to ace exams and write emails, contracts and essays, has sparked widespread concerns across sectors – education, in particular.

An internal paper by the American University of Ras Al Khaimah acknowledged this month that ChatGPT poses a serious threat to academic integrity but called it “futile” to prevent the use of it.

The university said current anti-plagiarism software “is not good at detecting” ChatGPT generated content and recommends educators guide students to employ AI responsibly and ethically.

This week Abu Dhabi University announced guidelines for the use of ChatGPT, advising students that AI-generated content may not be accurate and not to plagiarise texts.

In the corporate world, Panjabi said Jacky’s robotics software partners in the UAE, Saudi Arabia and Kuwait have already begun experimenting with use cases – and he expects the pace of development in the region to draw OpenAI to set up shop in the emirates. 

Altman said on Monday he is considering opening an office and expanding services in Japan after a meeting with Japan’s prime minister.

According to a UBS study, ChatGPT crossed 100 million monthly active users in January, only two months after launch, making it the fastest growing consumer app in history.

“We’re seeing major Silicon Valley investors making rounds in the region and recognising the importance of this emerging market, so it makes sense for OpenAI to support the ecosystem here,” Panjabi said.

In the midst of the global slowdown he also believed “another important factor is the amount of funding available given that our region is home to the world’s largest sovereign wealth funds”.

He added that e&’s recent $400 million acquisition of Careem, which was bought by Uber for $3.1 billion in 2020, is also a “loud testament” to homegrown innovation and the state of deal making in the Middle East.

What is ChatGPT?

ChatgptReuters/Dado Ruvic/Illustration

Developed by American AI research company OpenAI, ChatGPT is an AI-powered chatbot based on the GPT (Generative Pretrained Transformer) language model.

GPTs are a family of large language models (LLMs) that are pre-trained on large datasets, and use deep learning techniques to generate novel human-like responses to text inputs.

While chatbots have existed for years and power customer service and virtual assistants like Apple’s Siri or Amazon’s Alexa, what sets ChatGPT apart from other bots is that its model learns from human feedback, which allows it to produce natural language and to challenge incorrect assumptions, answer follow-up questions, and admit when it makes mistakes.

OpenAI has not monetised ChatGPT on a large scale. It offers a free version of ChatGPT, but does sell the application programming interface (API) on a subscription basis to organisations looking to custom-use the model.

In February OpenAI announced it would launch a pilot version of a paid subscription plan called ChatGPT Plus for $20 per month, which will include access to ChatGPT during peak times, faster response times, and priority access for new features.

Microsoft, which is an investor in OpenAI, is integrating ChatGPT into its Bing search engine to enable more complex and more natural searches.

In response to the threat, Google has announced its rival AI chatbot technology called Bard.

Tesla and Twitter chief Elon Musk has also reportedly approached AI researchers about forming a new research lab to develop an alternative to OpenAI’s ChatGPT. 

Latest articles

Aramco pipelines

BlackRock-led investors to refinance Aramco Pipelines stake

Investors in Saudi Aramco’s gas pipeline network, led by BlackRock, the world’s largest asset manager, are planning to issue $3 billion in bonds to refinance a loan that backed their purchase of a stake in the network.   The consortium of investors took a $13.4 billion bridge loan in 2021 to acquire a 49 percent stake […]

Over the first half of the year Sanad Group signed deals with international airlines including Asiana Airlines and Deucalion Aviation

Mubadala-backed Sanad Group reports 53% revenue growth

Sanad Group, the Abu Dhabi-based global aerospace engineering and leasing company, has seen revenues increase by more than half over the first six months of the year. Figures released to AGBI show revenue totalling AED2.3 billion ($620 million) was reported in the first half of the year, up from AED1.5 billion over the same period […]

Malaysia’s HSS Engineers Berhad and its emirati consultancy HSS signed the deal top oversee construction with the Baghdad municipality

UAE company in joint venture to build Baghdad metro

A Malaysian engineering company and its UAE affiliate have jointly won a $316 million contract to oversee the construction of the new Baghdad metro. The building of the planned 148-kilometre network and its 64 stations across the Iraqi capital was slated to begin this month and end in 2029. This timeline might be delayed, however, […]