Unexpected Virtues of AI: A Solution for Lebanon?

A picture of a human and robot fist bump

The Lebanese people are in the middle of their biggest crises in years: there is a political crisis, an economic crisis, a sanitary crisis, and a personal crisis on an individual level. To solve that issue, some people think that a continuation of protests is necessary, others think that economic reforms must happen. One solution that not many people in Lebanon think about is the total inclusion and proper use of Artificial Intelligence (AI). Many people think that AI is bad because it “steals” people’s jobs and makes them lazy, but AI can help people be more efficient and it creates jobs.  

AI can create jobs directly and indirectly. The direct jobs that AI is creating are jobs related to its development which include programmers, data analysts, and many others. We can compare AI to smartphones (and almost any other technological advancement). Before smartphones existed, when people wanted to take photos, they would have an analog camera. This meant that they would need to take their film to the shop to develop it and see the photos taken on it. Clearly, digital photography  shrunk the market for analog photography. However, it created millions of jobs. It created jobs for the people working in mines to get the necessary metals and for people who work in factories to assemble these materials. There was a boom in jobs like app development and content creation, and it led to shops that, for example, fix phones and other digital devices. Likewise, AI can create many jobs, especially programming jobs. Lebanon can benefit tremendously from AI because the demand for AI is growing everywhere around the world (especially in developed hubs). In these hubs, salaries are high and the companies there are likely to outsource their programming to a cheaper place. India is typically known for its low costs and good quality programming, but now that Lebanon is in crisis and that our currency is devalued, maybe we can try to benefit from it and work in programming for all hubs around the world. In addition, we have many young people who are highly educated and speak three languages fluently who are unemployed. These people are ideal programmers for industries abroad.

Indirectly, AI creates jobs by boosting productivity. When AI boosts the productivity of a company, it produces more and serves its client better which is more efficient for both the client and the company because it saves them resources (time, energy, etc.). These extra resources can be used by the client or the company to create more value and they can employ more people. For example, if Amazon uses AI within machines in its warehouses to do a task instead of hiring people to cut costs, it would cost people their jobs. However, the extra money that Amazon is going to make would be invested  in something else like research and development on packaging, for example. The money used for research and development is going to pay for salaries for researchers and, depending on the research done, could, for example, have a good environmental impact and reduce costs for the customer. If we want to see the whole image it seems that, in that case, some jobs are lost due to AI, but other jobs are created and there is going to be a positive impact on the environment and on customers. This scenario can be applied in Lebanon: if companies that use AI invest their resources in Lebanon, jobs are going to be created. However, that might not be the case directly because many companies are not ready to invest their resources in Lebanon.

AI can help us in our daily lives. Many applications on our phones already use it, and it can facilitate things for us. When you open the explore page on Instagram, the recommendations are based on what you like and what seems interesting for you which is much better than having random recommendations. With these recommendations, you can know more about things that interest you and meet people you wouldn’t have met. To meet these people before AI one would either have to do extensive research by asking friends, reading newspapers… or simply not meet them. It is clear that AI is saving us tremendous amounts of effort and time and that we as people should reinvest this time and effort into what is good, like personal development. In this case, AI can help the Lebanese people on an individual/personal level especially that right now we all need personal development. However, it is important to note that we are the ones controlling AI, which means that what we do AI follows and it adapts to us. If we use AI for things that are vain and not very useful, we won’t benefit from it. It is important that we take advantage of this opportunity and that we use Artificial Intelligence as a tool to help us reach our goals. AI can give us a reason to be lazy but it is up to us to choose not to be and to try reaching our goals.

In conclusion, while AI seems to be dangerous and threatening to some people, it is, in fact, beneficial for the economy on a local level and for us on a personal scale. AI is not the only solution to solve the economic crisis but it is at least a part of it. On a personal level, AI can help us, but it is up to us as private individuals to know how to control AI and to make good use, because our Intelligence that comes from God is always better than what’s artificial.

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