IS EDUCATION READY FOR AI AGE?Al-Qabas, Kuwait, March 31
Artificial intelligence has transformed many fields, and some fear its enormous capacity, which is believed to grow at an astonishing pace. ChatGPT, a chatbot developed by OpenAI, is the most famous example of the generative pre-trained AI technology. Adopting this technology is essential for those who wish to remain competitive in their current job, as it can dramatically shift the scope of what is possible for humans to do.
The future for those who do not recognize the potential of these applications looks bleak. Those who do not use AI techniques and applications risk being replaced by those who do. As scientists work to enhance research on the use of generative pre-trained AI for chatbots in medical education, it is clear how traditional education, particularly the outdated approach of teaching and memorization, risks becoming obsolete.
Many educational institutions, from higher to lower levels, face a difficult task in confronting and resisting these technologies and applications. Some have even taken the extreme measure of banning their use, out of fear of fraud, plagiarism and over-reliance. This reaction may be understandable, given the surprise of the technology’s sudden availability to the public, but I don’t believe it is the right approach in the long term. Banning technological tools without considering how they could be used to improve work performance is shortsighted.
In medical education, curricula must be adapted to incorporate the use of these modern technologies; it is also essential to consider the drawbacks of these techniques, which lack emotion and humanity in their output. Moreover, we must discuss issues of data privacy and accuracy. Some of these technologies rely on outdated information, which is unacceptable in the medical field. Teachers must recognize the potential of these technologies and foster continuous learning, analysis and critical thinking. Their use must be transparent, safeguarding intellectual property rights and advancing science and knowledge, rather than digging our heads in the sand.
There are opportunities to be seized through the use of AI technologies. Preliminary studies suggest that generative pre-trained AI could be used to create a “digital tutor,” for example. This would allow for personalized tutoring sessions that are tailored to a student’s individual needs and progress. AI also provides teachers with the ability to monitor student performance and provide personalized feedback.
But the question still remains: Is education ready for the era of AI? Based on where things stand today, I am skeptical. However, this does not mean that we should succumb to pessimism. We must work hard to improve education and ensure that all stakeholders benefit from the cutting-edge technology that is popping up around us. – Dhari Adel Al-Huwail
BUILDING ON THE SAUDI-IRANIAN AGREEMENTAl-Riyadh, Saudi Arabia, March 30
A spirit of optimism has swept the Gulf following the signing of a landmark agreement between Saudi Arabia and Iran, which calls for the restoration of the two countries’ diplomatic ties under Chinese auspices. Political, cultural and religious elites, as well as ordinary citizens, are hopeful that this spirit leads to sustainable peace between Riyadh and Tehran. Of course, this optimism is cautious, and many are praying that both sides have sincere intentions and take action to move forward without any hiccups.
The question remains: Why is this optimism so widespread among citizens of diverse backgrounds in the Gulf? It is a hope for peace that transcends any one group’s interests and unites them in their diversity. Perhaps the main impetus for this moment in the Gulf, Iran and Iraq is exhaustion. People are weary from the political and security tensions that have been mounting. The best way to address these issues is through open dialogue and direct talks between the two sides, in order to put the past behind them and find practical solutions moving forward.
The pressures of this situation have been extreme, combining politics, religion and security, and leading to a number of serious incidents. Terrorist organizations were able to infiltrate and carry out destructive bombings and killings of both civilians and soldiers. Despite their serious damage, these events also highlighted solidarity and cooperation between many citizens, who voiced their opposition to violence, terrorism and sectarianism.
Given recent global economic instability, supply chain issues, inflation, rising commodity prices and the decline of various economies, many citizens of the Gulf feel anxious about the future. These worries are only exacerbated by the ongoing conflict between Russia and Ukraine, as well as the intensifying competition between Washington and Beijing. Thus, the recent Saudi-Iranian declaration, which aims to ease tensions between the two countries and focus on constructive dialogue rather than war, has been met with widespread approval from the public. The people of the region are eager for peace and to move past the policies of tension and “exporting the revolution.”
There is hope that the Saudi-Iranian dialogue will become a lever for change in the Middle East, leading to a reduction in sectarianism and incitement, a decrease in the threat of terrorism, and the preservation of security in waterways and energy supply lines. Saudi Arabia is determined to work toward the success of its Vision 2030 and create an atmosphere of stability and security in the region. To this end, it has opened a dialogue with Iran in an effort to ease tensions, bridge diplomatic divides and create a lasting understanding.
Residents of the Gulf Cooperation Council countries are generally kind and friendly and seek to live in peace. They recognize that the stability of their eastern neighbor will be beneficial to their own countries, if Iranian politicians adhere to international norms and laws when conducting foreign relations. By doing so, these hopeful aspirations will become a reality and contribute to the security and development of our entire region. – Hassan Mustafa
SAUDI ARABIA’S STEADFAST OPPOSITION TO THE INVASION OF IRAQOkaz, Saudi Arabia, March 31
At the start of the 1990s, Iraqi president Saddam Hussein invaded Kuwait, resulting in a major breach of Arab national security and a devastating blow to Arab-Arab relations. Despite international pressure, the Iraqi leadership remained intransigent, making a mistake that would send Saddam into direct confrontation with various countries of the world. This led to the war to liberate Kuwait and subsequent blockade of Iraq. US-Iraqi relations since then have been characterized by a pattern of sanctions and airstrikes, most notably Operation Desert Fox.
This year marks the 20th anniversary of the American military intervention in Baghdad; an event that Saudi Arabia had long opposed. Sadly, some voices within the Arab Gulf seek to tarnish the kingdom’s reputation by claiming that it supported the American invasion of Iraq. Several Gulf commentators claimed that Saudi Arabia stood by America’s side and helped plan the invasion.
The Al-Ula Summit, initiated by Saudi Arabia with the goal of enhancing unity among the Gulf Cooperation Council states, has left regional populations and observers increasingly satisfied with the atmosphere of reconciliation that it fostered. Researchers and historians can provide more insight into this context. Reading history is a challenging and laborious endeavor, and it requires competent historians and researchers. To take parts of history and utilize it for political objectives is tantamount to fabrication and misinterpretation, especially when the aim is to disrespect the bond of brotherhood between two Arab nations by issuing baseless accusations.
The Arab Gulf region is going through a new stage in its history. The kingdom will not accept false accusations made against its officials in an attempt to undermine their role in the region. Those who spread lies should be well aware of this fact.
– Rami Al-Khalifa Al-Ali
COMPLEX PATHS FORWARD IN THE ISRAELI POLITICAL ARENAAl-Ittihad, UAE, April 1
Despite the recent developments that forced Prime Minister Binyamin Netanyahu to freeze his judicial overhaul plan, all evidence suggests that Israel is likely to remain in a state of instability for the foreseeable future. Netanyahu still holds many cards in the political game, and the group of hawks within the Likud bloc has not been able to push him to the brink.
Netanyahu has experienced multiple challenging situations in the past, and has managed to weather those storms confidently, which points to the possibility of him coming out of this turmoil stronger and more powerful than he was before. The current divisions in Israel are of grave concern, and President Isaac Herzog is right to pursue dialogue to amend the situation. Behind the scenes, US diplomats are engaging in dialogue in Tel Aviv and Jerusalem to lower the flames.
With the extreme right-wing hardliners removed, a national unity government could be formed, and can ultimately lead to a rebuilding of partisan consensus. To achieve this, there must be a tactical and gradual cessation of controversial laws and legislation. Rebuilding a consensus or finding a way to dissolve the crisis may take some time, but is the most direct solution to move Israel away from its current impasse. Otherwise, demonstrations may increase, leading to a possible civil war. The centers of power in the Israeli regime, mostly within the military and religious institutions, will likely be the first to suggest a partial freeze of the situation.
The reality confirms that Netanyahu needs a greater degree of control over government decisions, despite the recent developments. Faced with no other option, he will turn to consolidating even more power for himself, which may ultimately lead to his vision of dominating the political scene. Thus far, the methods used to address such scenarios have tended to focus on escalation and confrontation, rather than on calming the situation, despite the advice of Herzog and the leaders of the military establishment.
Furthermore, the continuation of confrontations in West Bank cities, as well as the successive occurrence of individual operations in Jenin, Jerusalem and Nablus, has caught the Israeli security off guard, even with the resumption of security contacts with the Palestinian Authority. – Tarek Fahmy
Translated by Asaf Zilberfarb.