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Tue 24 Feb 2015 12:53 PM

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Money talks

Why some need monetary gain to inspire creativity, says Tamara Pupic

Money talks

As many of the Gulf residents flock to Swiss ski resorts these days, I imagine a typical snow covered Heidi’s cottage. A family relaxes in front of a fireplace, and the doorbell rings.

Since this cottage is in a remote village, far from popular ski resorts, and the Swiss family doesn’t expect guests since their Emirati friends have already arrived, it must be the local postman.

Despite technological advances, the Swiss traditionally take pride in their postal service sector.

A handwritten Christmas card is being mailed to me (wherever I might live that particular year) every year only by my Swiss friends.

Everybody else has switched to emails and we don’t even know anymore whether post offices still tend to be extremely crowded around Christmas time or not.

The doorbell rings again. The father opens, and an unmanned aerial vehicle - or drone - drops a letter in front of him. The father takes the letter, the drone flies away.

The Emirati guest asks: ”Is that the company which won our Drones for Good Award a few years ago?”

His host answers: “Yes. Without you, our local postman might not be sitting in his cozy and warm living room at this very moment.”

Let’s set this story sometime in the future in, for example, late 2020s.

The question is would the local postman have been made this happy that year, if the UAE leadership hadn’t offered a $1 million prize for the best innovation in civilian drone technology in 2014?

“Our message is that we can use [them] for the good of people all over the world,” said an official when the competition was announced last year.

In addition to this everyday life example of the beneficial uses of drone technology, the drones on display at the first UAE Drones for Good competition, held recently at Dubai Media City, covered a wide range of more important uses.

Those include landmine detection, package delivery, urban planning, search and rescue, police missions, reforestation and wildlife monitoring, among many other issues addressed within 800 submissions from 57 countries.

Recently, Sheikh Hamdan, the Crown Prince of Dubai, launched a new international competition to generate the best ideas for artificial intelligence and robots that can serve humanity.

The top prize is again AED1 million ($272,257) at the national level and $1 million at the international level.

Many wonder whether it really works to offer monetary gain to inspire innovation or motivate the real innovators. Steve Jobs or Leonardo Di Vinci did not need a carrot to aim for in order to be motivated.

However, not only does the success of this year’s drone competition prove that the social application of new technology is important, but it has paved a new avenue for entrepreneurs with an idea to get fast tracked.

Therefore, in my opinion, the UAE leadership shouldn’t care about naysayers as long as its efforts encourage all those with an idea to try and make it a reality.

Thus, the Emirati guest answered to his Swiss host: “Hamdullah.”

Arabian Business: why we're going behind a paywall

Fintan Corrigan 5 years ago

I don't know if drones will ever deliver Christmas cards but there is plenty of great uses for drones which this article shows. Drones saves lives, time and money for sure.

Using drones for landmine detection, package delivery, urban planning, search and rescue, reforestation and wildlife monitoring benefit everyone.

Girish 5 years ago

Technology has its own advantages and disadvantages.
Use it wisely for peace its a good tool, use it unwisely it becomes a wepon.
Close monitoring / licencing is needed of drones if feel like the vehicles.