Technology is Major Driving Force of Globalisation: ECSSR

  • 22 March 2014

The UAE is one of the first countries of the region to engage in the digital era and transition to an economy based on knowledge, innovation and technology.

The role of technology in education, medicine, governance is the major driving force behind globalisation, Dr Jamal Sanad Al Suwaidi, Director General of the Emirates Centre for Strategic Studies and Research (ECSSR), said.

He was speaking at the ECSSR’s two-day 19th Annual Conference, entitled, “Technology: Impacts, challenges and the future”, which concluded on Wednesday.

Dr Jamal stressed the UAE is one of the first countries of the region to engage in the digital era and transition to an economy based on knowledge, innovation and technology.

“Under the leadership of the President, His Highness Shaikh Khalifa bin Zayed Al Nahyan, the UAE can use informed planning combined with technology to provide innovative solutions to many obstacles,” said Dr Jamal.

The first panel of the conference mainly discussed the responsibility and values of using technology rather than technology itself. While the speakers highlighted the growing role of technology, they called upon governments, institutions, parents and society in general to encourage responsible thinking toward using technology as a tool. The keynote speaker of the conference Princess Rym Ali, founder of Jordan Media Institute, warned to not get dogged by the ‘quantity’ of technological progress but rather focus on the quality of improvement. Princess Rym highlighted the media’s responsibility in this age of technology, saying: “It is crucial to realise that new technologies demand journalists that are even better trained and trained more often and more regularly, that are specialised, therefore immediately capable of appreciating the value of a piece of news and capable of shedding enough light on it. Today, mastering communications technology — or any technology — seems to be at the centre of many education initiatives, which makes sense. It is a mistake, however, to deliver this knowledge without imparting at the same time the knowledge of human sciences.” Princess Rym suggested government media needs to offer a platform for all voices to be heard — a platform that offers proper dialogue between governments and its people.

Prof David Alan Grier, associate professor of International Science and Technology Policy and International Affairs, the George Washington University, US, also questioned actual human progress with regard to technology. He spoke about how innovation in technology has brought about a new level of civilisation.

Prof Linnar Viik, former director, Skype Technologies Ltd and associate professor and member of the board, Estonian Information Technology College, called to encourage critical thinking. He said: “While excellent science and research are necessary, they remain insufficient ingredients for innovation.”

The panel chair Mohamed Nasser Al Ghanim, director-general of Telecommunications Regulatory Authority (TRA), UAE, explained the country’s leadership’s focus in creating smart cities that are more people-centric. Mohamed Ghanim said the UAE intends to add services never seen or heard of before because of the country’s aims of using the various innovation in technology.

Prof Philip N. Howard, Department of Communication, University of Washington, US, recommended the UAE’s smart city approach could incorporate space for civil society actors, for businesses and governments and for faith-based groups. He added that smart cities work when they have education and awareness which help in creativity and innovation.