Technology, AI imperative for prosperous societies: Ali Muhammad
Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan participates in a a day-long National Conference on Technological Transformation in Pakistan: An Asset or Liability, jointly organized by Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan and Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS)

ISLAMABAD, Feb 22 (APP): Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan Monday said focused economic development through technology and Artificial Intelligence (AI) was more imperative for better and prosperous societies.

He was speaking as the chief guest during a day-long National Conference on Technological Transformation in Pakistan: An Asset or Liability, jointly organized by Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan and Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS).

Minister of State for Parliamentary Affairs Ali Muhammad Khan speaking as the chief guest during a day-long National Conference on Technological Transformation in Pakistan: An Asset or Liability, jointly organized by Hans Seidel Foundation (HSF) Pakistan and Center for Global & Strategic Studies (CGSS)

“AI has changed the world more than anything else due to its multi-dimensional impacts, including time efficiency and accuracy,” he said, adding the Pakistan Tehreek-e-Insaf Government was taking efficient steps to introduce technology and innovation in various sectors.

He said Germany, China and Japan had stood on their feet again due to their focused economic development through technology, which had resulted in rapid economic growth within their societies.

“We have aptly invested in health and education during the past years. Our youth are doing great and if we have not performed in the last seventy decades, we surely have the vigour and energy to do it now. We have great potential to deliver to the world and we should not be overwhelmed by any challenges.”

Addressing the conference, Dr Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative of HSF Pakistan said an algorithm was a mechanistic formula that automatically produced an answer for each new case that appeared.

“This happens with no or with very minimal human intervention. Algorithms are marking the current age of technology. However, algorithms face serious limitations,” he added.

Dr. Steffen said Artificial Intelligence was still far away from having real super-human abilities, and it was important not only to see its potential, but also the limitations.

He said as it was unlikely that the AI would be able to replace human beings completely, the later should adjust their skills through education and training as per the needs of future society.

Replying to a question posed by APP about the scope of digitalization, he said Pakistan, with a young and tech-savvy population and a high rate of smartphone penetration, had immense potential for technological transformation especially when it came to the digital economy.

Dr Steffen Kudella, Resident Representative of HSF Pakistan talking APP’s Journalist Shabbir Hussain giving insights of the conference later in the event

“Pakistan’s digital landscape is a thriving one and it was one of the few sectors to grow despite the global COVID-19 pandemic in 2020,” he added.

Pakistan, he said, needed to embrace the latest technological innovations and ride the digital wave to economic and social prosperity through IT friendly policies and enabling legislation. At the same time, it needed to steer this technological development in a way that it served the benefits of all the people of Pakistan.

Earlier, in the opening remarks, former secretary information, and CGSS Senior Member Board of Advisors Ashfaq Ahmed Gondal said technological transformation was a very significant topic as things were changing very rapidly vis-à-vis technological development.

“Technology is an asset as it opens new avenues of development and prosperity on a broad level. It is a powerful tool for business growth if used prudently. If we fail to use it in its true essence, it can become a liability.”

Barrister Waqas Aziz Qureshi, Managing Partner of Transact Advisory, said Pakistan was inclined towards traditional investment patterns. “Technology has not transformed our economy because of our lack of interest in its development,” he added.

The government, he said, had taken steps to match pace with the world in this regard.

He recommended that special economic zones for technological development should be set up for economic boost. There should be technology-based companies which should benefit from government’s incentives and initiatives.

Amir Zafar Durrani, President of Reenergia (Expert of renewable energy, development, trade and connectivity), in his presentation, said the biggest compression of technology was happening in the region, with life patterns changing and job opportunities drying up.

“Unfortunately, we are teaching our kids everything but cognitive thinking which, in the long run, can be extremely dangerous and counterproductive for us,” he added.

He aid it was an era fast emerging East because of the Chinese widespread investment in its immediate geographical vicinity and beyond.

“We need to train our people and must stand as a nation to protect CPEC (China Pakistan Economic Corridor), which is virtually the economic lifeline of our country in times to come. If technology is not used efficiently and prudently, it can become a lability. If we handle our resources and youth smartly, technological transformation has all the elements in it to become an asset.”

Ammar Jaffri, Director General of Center of Information Technology (CIT) deliberated on the topic of Technological Transformation in Pakistan through BRI & CPEC”.

He said ,”Challenges are present and we need to have joint platforms for facilitating and bringing technology in Pakistan. As for the government, it must regulate and introduce suitable environment and should keep a strict check”.

He said Pakistan’s biggest opportunity and trump card were its youth. “They have passion and I have faith in them if are guided well. Our universities must deliver the right manpower.”

Jawad Majid, Director of Silk Bank highlighted the “Impacts of Technological Transformation on Pakistan’s Financial Sector.”

He said that there are several opportunities that are present for the youth nowadays vis-à-vis this topic. “We can include youth by giving them initial capital to induce them towards financial betterment via technical development in monetary and banking sectors. Private banks can collaborate and work together cohesively with the government institutions and other stakeholders related to technological sector for exponentially boosting prospects of better technological development of Pakistan in due course of time”.

Tariq Malik – Former Chief Technology Officer, GHQ presented speech on the topic “Challenges to Social Security under the Technological Transformation in Pakistan.” He stated that millions of jobs are expected to be lost or displaced during the coming decades because of the technological development happening today and fear of losing job is rampant.

He said “Artificial Intelligence can revolutionize segments of life and can bring new opportunities. If technology is not understood and adopted, unemployment is not far away. When we are part of the global economy, we ought to change ourselves. We need to understand destination jobs for tomorrow. On the other hand, if technological development is embraced with open arms and is allowed to sensibly grow in our country, many job opportunities can emerge”.

Bareerah Fatima, Programme Liaison Officer Associate, Pakistan Council of Research in Water Resources (PCRWR) gave a glimpse of usage of digital technology for various multifaceted purposes vis-à-vis water conservation and management. She stated that at the moment, water conservation in agriculture sector requires quick improvement through technological development.