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Abu-Ghazaleh calls for invention-oriented education, warns of fallback on artificial intelligence frontier

By Saeb Rawashdeh - Feb 09,2019 - Last updated at Feb 09,2019

Talal Abu-Ghazaleh speaks on the potential impact of artificial intelligence and necessary reform of higher education at Columbia Global Centres, on Tuesday (Photo courtesy of Columbia Global Centres)

AMMAN — The world is embarking on a Fourth Industrial Revolution and knowledge revolution, said Talal Abu-Ghazaleh on Tuesday at “The Brave Knowledge World” book launch event.

The talk, organised at Columbia Global Centres, discussed the dissemination of knowledge and the impact of artificial intelligence on the world in coming decades.

In order to address problems of unemployment and frustration, not only in the Arab world but also globally, Abu-Ghazaleh proposed a complete reform of the education sector and universities.

According to Abu-Ghazaleh, the world has a lot to learn from dropouts who never completed their university education but instead became very successful innovators and entrepreneurs. 

Universities should encompass learning experiences and become learning institutions, not teaching institutions, he said, adding that professors should tell their students how to study and not to teach them the material of the course. 

Students must learn to find and cultivate knowledge, not be given the knowledge or indoctrinated, Abu-Ghazaleh emphasised.

“I had my first computer course in 1965 and that was in a village outside London where IBM had its lab,” the chairman and founder of the Talal Abu–Ghazaleh Organisation recalled.

“Immediately, I realised that was the beginning of something significant because it wasn’t the final product. That ‘something’ turned out to be the Third Industrial Revolution; the Information Technology Revolution,” he underscored.

However, the IT revolution that the world has witnessed since 1960 to this day has now become the infrastructure for yet another revolution; the Fourth Industrial Revolution, as he described it.

“And it will be different from previous revolutions [agricultural, industrial and IT],” Abu-Ghazaleh underlined.

In November 2018, Abu-Ghazaleh wrote a book “The Brave Knowledge World”.

It addresses the questions of knowledge creation and sharing, and its impact on every segment of the society, according to the chairman.

“The three previous revolutions were relatively confined to their own respective sectors,” he said.

But “the fourth revolution will be impactful, all-encompassing and non-sectoral.”

He anticipates that it will have a cross impact on everything; from industry, to commerce and government “but most importantly on us as human beings”, he stressed.

Abu-Ghazaleh said that while he shared a panel with Bill Gates 30 years ago, he heard that artificial intelligence would transform the face of the 21st century.

“I had never heard of that word, back then... Artificial intelligence is not a science or technology, but much more than that. I cannot describe it. It will make some individuals superior to others, and more qualified, even in terms of physical capabilities and life expectancy. Through artificial intelligence we will create better human beings,” Abu-Ghazaleh highlighted.

As a citizen of the Arab world, Abu-Ghazaleh said he wanted to warn the public, he said.

“It is a national duty.”

Through his book, he took on the task of describing the impact of the knowledge revolution on every sector of the society, he said. 

“I wanted to predict how we will live in the future,” the leading business and IT figure noted.

“Our children, in 30 years, will see us as though we came from the Stone Age,” he exclaimed, to highlight the groundbreaking leaps he expects humanity to take in the decades to come, with the Fourth Industrial Revolution. 

IT will just be an instrument of this revolution, merely a vehicle, Abu-Ghazaleh pointed out.

According to the chairman of the UN Global Alliance for ICT and Development, the Knowledge Revolution will be led by inventions; it will be a revolution of inventions.

Because of that: “We have to reassess our educational objectives since inventors employ jobseekers,” Abu-Ghazaleh concluded.

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