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Sun 3 Feb 2019 03:23 PM

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Saudi Arabia's Alawwal Bank training all employees in AI

Alawwal Bank managing director Soren Nikolajsen said that the courses also show the limitations of AI technology and what it can currently do

Saudi Arabia's Alawwal Bank training all employees in AI
Alawwal Bank managing director Soren Nikolajsen.

Saudi Arabia’s Alawwal Bank is training its entire workforce in the basics of artificial intelligence in a bid to educate staff on its applications in the financial sector, according to managing director Soren Nikolajsen.

In an interview with Arabian Business, Nikolajsen said that the online course has been designed by Finnish tech firm Reaktor and also includes workshops led by experts from Reaktor and the Helsinki University.

The course is designed to give all staff members at Alawwal with an overview of AI for employees, including those without a background in digital technology.

“It’s not just for the guys in IT or the guys in retail. It’s for everyone across the board, from senior management all the way down,” Nikolajsen said.

AI experts

While Nikolajsen admits he “wasn’t sure” how the course would be received, he said that the initial courses saw three times the amount of staff members sign up than could actually be accommodated.

Nikolajsen, who personally took the course, said that it “isn’t about making everyone an AI expert.”

“What I got from the course was a lot about what AI actually is, and what it can do in terms of how we use the technology,” he said. “What it also did is highlight what AI is not. There is an enormous amount of hype.”

Among the potential applications for AI technology, Nikolajsen said, are Know Your Customer (KYC) applications, help Saudis with financial literacy and help the bank process the vast amount of data it collects.

However, Nikolajsen said that AI still has “enormous restrictions.”

“It can’t think and it has no conscious,” he said. “It can only do what we tell it.”

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