Gulf IT Exhibition in Dubai

GITEX 2021: Four technology trends that will define our future

Gulf IT Expo Dubai is a sprawling business space with thousands of exhibitors from all over the world.

It can be hard to get a gauge of broader tech trends, in part because every two minutes you fly over a robot or meet a hologram.

Topics like cybersecurity, cryptography, artificial intelligence, and the data economy dominate the popular narrative, but is humanity actually making progress?

Are we moving to a brighter future inhabited by collaborative robots? And self-driving vehicles? And when will humanity collectively stand up and let machines do the hard work?

The National spoke to several experts at Gitex to find out.

Many exhibitors and speakers at GITEX focus on how close we are to the singularity - the hypothetical point in time at which technological growth becomes uncontrollable and irreversible, leading to unexpected changes in human civilization.

"This is a historic moment in human history because we have never tried to replicate or replicate our intelligence," said Tanya Gagal, a Dubai-based futurist and artificial intelligence expert.

So when will it happen? Nobody knows, but there are a lot of companies at Gitex trying to figure out what this technological age means for humans on an individual level.

Masumzadeh suggested that films like Terminator and RoboCop depicting rogue robotic characters entered the public consciousness and inadvertently turned people away from robots and made them afraid of AI.

"I think there is a lot of bad publicity regarding AI and its capabilities," he said.

“We can't be a computer but humans have logic and common sense. We have to teach a robot that common sense and it will stay that way for a very long time.

"The robot needs to learn and we're still - right now - doing all the teaching."

A man uses an augmented reality headset at the du booth at GITEX at the Dubai World Trade Centre. Leslie Pablo/The National
Over the next few years, Ms. Jejel said, we will redefine our perception through tools such as virtual reality and augmented reality.

Dozens of companies are displaying their systems at GITEX, where exhibitors encourage visitors to don virtual reality goggles to instantly join a new world.

“You will see a lot of startups here and a lot of big organizations also investing in technology like this,” Gagal said.

“Over time, I think we will fully see the proliferation and democratization of these technologies, and they will completely change the way we interact with each other.”

Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg certainly agrees. He's previously talked about creating a "metaverse" or online world where people interact, work and play games in a virtual environment, often using VR headsets.

The Facebook CEO described it as "the internet embodied where you are in it rather than just viewing content."

So in the future, 2D meetings will not take place with each person appearing in their own rectangle, but in 3D, where you feel like you are in the meeting room physically via an avatar or a 3D image.

Internet speed, better processing power and technological advances allow more people to be innovative and creative.

“We no longer have to follow a linear path of human progress, we can all come together and do amazing things,” Gagal said.

"We're actually on a really good path where humanity, governments, businesses and private organizations are really collaborating to make sure that we move forward and Gitex is proof of that."