Daily Review: The Arab World Is Embracing Its Digital Future

How is the future of computing likely to impact the Arab world? Ghida Ibrahim, Data Scientist – Network Infrastructure at Facebook, UK, offers an answer encompassing the founding pillars of modern societies with an emphasis on how advanced technologies will impact the Arab world and its digital-first future.

Pick #1. The Digital Arab World: Understanding and Embracing Regional Changes in the Fourth Industrial Revolution

As the world moves at a fast pace towards the Fourth Industrial Revolution, the evolution of computing becomes even more problematic. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is characterized by the explosion of highly diversified data coming from humans, objects & all kinds of digital records, and the rise of machines, which will use this data to augment their intelligence in order to perform operations as complex as predicting and diagnosing a rare disease, or driving a car without human intervention.

The Fourth Industrial Revolution is expected to impact every industry: healthcare, transportation, agriculture, education, retail, multimedia, finance, etc. The Arab world is no exception, particularly with the emergence of a strong tech startup scene in countries like the UAE, Egypt & Tunisia, and the futuristic drive of many local governments; the Dubai government in the UAE being a shining example in this context.

Here are some of the main impact areas:

  1. Retail: Machine learning is shaping online retail as it allows enhancing consumers’ retail experience based on their online behavior through targeted advertising and item recommendation, among other techniques.

  2. Finance: With many Arab citizens struggling to access basic financial services, particularly in rural areas and in refugee camps, blockchain holds the promise of opening the access to transactions such as storing, transferring or borrowing money to the most vulnerable Arab populations.

  3. Healthcare: Precision medicine refers to the use of a mix of data, including genesis data, lifestyle data from social media and contextual data such as geographic data to predict individuals’ odds of getting different types of diseases. Given the volume and variety of involved data, precision medicine is computationally complex to achieve.

  4. Education: After digitization, education is tending towards customization where every student will be offered a learning experience that is tailored to his/her learning capabilities and interests. Metrics such as course viewing time, viewing frequency, time to answer questions and grades can be used to assess the students’ strengths & weaknesses, as well as to recommend customized learning paths. Detecting these patterns requires sophisticated machine learning models and adequate computing resources underneath.

Read more in the white paper published by the World Economic Forum.

Pick #2. Improving Identity Verification on Coinbase

We are now using machine learning for ID verifications. In most cases, verification will now take seconds – not hours. We have also integrated an additional ID verification vendor to help with increased loads during periods of peak demand. We’re excited to share that we are now successfully verifying nearly 90% of all customers who submit an ID. – AJ Asver, Product Manager, Coinbase

Read more.

Pick #3. Goldman Is Close to Buying Personal-Finance Startup Clarity (For Marcus)

Goldman Sachs is in discussions to acquire PFM startup Clarity Money, with plans to fold it into its Marcus online lender. Clarity is an app founded by Adam Dell. It uses artificial intelligence to help consumers make better financial decisions by canceling or lowering bills, finding a better credit card or creating a savings account. The firm, which started just over a year ago, has about 50 employees and more than 500,000 users.

Goldman Sachs earlier acquired Oakland, California-based credit card startup Final, which offered customized card numbers to cut down on fraud. It has also partnered with Intuit Inc., the maker of financial and tax-management software, to offer loans to customers.

Read more.