Can artificial intelligence aid climate solutions in the Middle East? 


Al-Monitor Pro Members


Dr. Karen E. Young

Senior Research Scholar, Center on Global Energy Policy, Columbia University


Dec. 22, 2023

Bottom Line:

Robotics, artificial intelligence (AI) and automation are relevant to creating change and efficiencies in our energy sector. For oil and gas-dependent political economies, especially those in the Middle East, the notion of increased productivity and automation in small labor forces with gaps in research and development communities is especially attractive. However, expectations that AI might be able to leap-frog current growth trajectories and increase rates of GDP growth and labor productivity growth, specifically in its use by Gulf states and their investment vehicles, may be wishful thinking. There are uses for AI as applied to shared global challenges of climate change. And while there are very real considerations in the risks of AI — particularly in regards to privacy, redundancies in labor markets, and human capacity to manage the evolution of AI outside of its original purpose — the use of the technology is accelerating and diversifying where it receives investment and research attention (and the GCC is now a leading ecosystem of AI), making the international governance of the technology difficult to monitor and police. Moreover, geopolitics in the use of AI and component materials, specifically chips, has become a barrier to cooperation and co-investment for some firms based in the Gulf.  

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