The conference included four seminars featuring 22 high-level speakers from across the world, including ministers, leaders, and innovators, who discussed several topics and issues related to the unmanned systems sector. The seminars focused on four main themes, which are Understanding the Changing Unmanned Landscape, Facilitating Trust and Understanding: Human-Machine Teaming and Decision-Making in the Unmanned Age, Optimizing Innovation: Overcoming Adoption and Integration Challenges, and Unmanned Systems and the 4IR: How Technology is Shaping Future Capabilities.
His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi, Minister of State for Defense Affairs, His Excellency Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications opened the conference in the presence of, Her Excellency Mariya Didi, Minister of Defense of the Republic of Maldives, His Excellency João Ernesto dos Santos, Minister of Defense of Angola, His Royal Highness Lieutenant-General Turki bin Bandar bin Abdulaziz Al Saud, Commander of the Royal Saudi Air Force, His Excellency Eng. Awaidha Murshed Al Marar, Chairman of the Department of Energy, Major General Dr. Mubarak Saeed Ghafan Al Jabri, head of the UMEX and SimTEX 2022 higher organising committee, and Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Managing Director and CEO of the Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC) Group, in addition to top-ranking attendees from participating delegations.
In his opening speech, His Excellency Mohammed bin Ahmed Al Bowardi welcomed the participating delegations to Abu Dhabi, the capital of the UAE the home of tolerance, peace, opportunities, and innovations, saying: “Unmanned systems and drones have become synonymous with the real and unprecedented technological revolutions that is putting the future in our hands, and in the UAE, they are a main pillar for achieving the vision of our wise leadership’s vision represented in the Principles of 50 which are based on building the best and highest-growing economy in the world, and strengthen the positive reputation and global stature of the UAE.
“This strategic conference is being organised today in spite of the global challenges and exceptional circumstances in the region sheds light on the capabilities and resources of the UAE, emphasising its pivotal role in enhancing the security and stability of the region, and its efforts for moving forward with developing its advanced technology system to build deterring power, and a security and defence sector that achieves tranquillity and peace,” His Excellency added.
His Excellency said: “The importance of this conference lies in the fact that it is a scientific platform that brings together expertise and skills, that contributes to developing national capabilities, relaying our message to the world which affirms that the UAE is able to confront all challenges, and to realise the aspirations of its leadership and the ambitions of its people to occupy a prominent position among the best countries in the world in all fields, as well as confirming its commitment to developing its capabilities for producing unmanned systems and drones to bolster its defensive capabilities and support its national economy.”
“There is a considerable danger posed by the fact that drones have become a weapon preferred by terrorist groups to their low cost of production, efficiency, effectiveness, and ease of procurement, particularly if there are regimes and countries sponsoring them. Drones can play a number of roles associated with traditional fighter planes, like monitoring, reconnaissance, and aerial attacks, so their use is starting to affect the concepts of credo of aerial operations and defence,” he added.
“Despite the scientific and technological advances that unmanned systems represent, they also entail unprecedented threats and challenges, which is why we must double our efforts to protect international legitimacy and realize international peace and security, and to work together to keep the wheel of progress and prosperity moving forward for the sake of our future generations by elevating our creativity to confront challenges, foster trust and awareness in human interaction with smart machines, and make the right decisions in this unmanned age,” His Excellency concluded.
During his main speech of the opening session, H.E. Omar Sultan Al Olama, Minister of State for Artificial Intelligence, Digital Economy and Remote Work Applications commented, “Today more than ever, we understand the importance of safeguarding our nations by ensuring that these technologies are tools that we can use other than tools that be used against us. But as with all tools throughout history, and with all technologies that has been advanced, we realise as well that they’re not perfect.”
“The first challenge is unnamed systems give us today the urge to increase escalation, especially when we deploy with artificial intelligence. These systems make us feel that there are no humans on the battleground, that we can continue to escalate and push things aggressively forward without thinking of the precautions. If we add artificial intelligence to the mix, in most cases they are going to push for escalation without thinking of certainly variables like strengths and weaknesses. The second challenge, is that fact these systems are much more cheaper and accessible than ever before. At that accessibility, it allows for these systems to fall into the hands of the people that we do not want them to get in the hands of, terrorist groups that can use to terrorise civilians and to impact the global system in a negative way.
His Excellency continued, “The third challenge is the fact that when these systems are deployed with artificial intelligence, have one major disadvantage, which is the fact that they use historical data to plan for the future, so we need to consistently keep the human in the loop. The final challenge is what we are moving into a world of have and have-nots, and that world is going to create a world of discrepancy that might lead people to extremes to ensure that they are still relevant in the battlefield.”
Humaid Matar Al Dhaheri, Managing Director and Group CEO of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC), said: "We witnessed the launch of the conference, organised by ADNEC and in cooperation with the Ministry of Defense in the UAE, in the presence of experts, academic researchers and global thought leaders to exchange views, in the unmanned systems sector.”
He noted that the event contributes to strengthening the position of the UAE as a distinguished global destination for hosting conferences specialised in unmanned systems, simulation systems and training.
“The organisation of these events comes in accordance with ADNEC’s strategy to support vital and promising sectors and enhance the competitiveness of national companies at local and international levels, in addition to transferring and localising advanced knowledge in the country.” Al Dhaheri stated.