Ideas Abu Dhabi 2018 Ideas Abu Dhabi 2018

Ideas Abu Dhabi 2018 took place on 2-3 March 2018 at New York University Abu Dhabi (NYUAD), Saadiyat Island. The Forum tracks examined the new era of globalization; increased polarization in society; the ending of cancer; and the transformative power of Artificial Intelligence.


Featured sessions Featured sessions

Yann LeCun, VP and Chief AI Scientist at Meta, explored the potential applications of artificial intelligence, along with its limitations.

Tracks Tracks

The Modern Silk Road:a new era of globalization
Polarization: Increasedpolarization in politics and society
Artificial Intelligence:our super-intelligent friend?
Cancer:An end in sight?

While the developed world can seem increasingly ill at ease with globalization, China is emerging as a vocal advocate. With major investments in innovation and infrastructure both inside and outside its borders, is China shifting the locus of globalisation east? Creating new systems of trade and cooperation to match? What are the wider implications for the global economy, regional security and public diplomacy?

Powerful trends that empower our lives also create space for greater fragmentation and even polarization between us. From the ubiquity and capability of modern communications; to the growing ease and affordability of travel; to greater general affluence – we can transcend and traverse our associations as never before. While often positive, we must learn to cope with the negatives. From online ‘echo chambers’; to polarisation in politics; even to an alleged ‘clash of civilisations’ – it can often seem that the forces of moderation are on the back foot. What can be done to reverse this fracturing while still embracing the many benefits of modern life and technology?

Artificial intelligence platforms have existed for decades but only recently, with the advent of machine and deep learning techniques, has AI evolved into a more widely used and valued tool. From Google’s DeepMind to IBM’s Watson to Elon Musk’s OpenAI to Facebook’s AI bots, some of the greatest minds and companies are racing to define the next era of computing. Yet as with the discovery of nuclear fission, many fear that unleashing the full potential of AI could become an existential threat to humanity. How can AI further transform our lives? How can we be sure it stays friendly?

Over 14 million people each year are diagnosed with one or more of over 100 types of cancer. After 250 years of cancer research and major advances in cancer detection and drug development, where are we now? Does the answer lie in developing personalized drugs tailored to our individual DNA? What will it take and how long could it be before the world is cancer-free?


H.E. Noura Al Kaabi
UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development

Her Excellency Noura bint Mohammed Al Kaabi was appointed as the UAE Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development in October 2017. As Minister of Culture and Knowledge Development, Her Excellency is responsible for the promotion of all UAE cultural fields on both a national and international level. She previously held the post of Minister of State for Federal National Council Affairs. Her Excellency also holds the position of Chairwoman of the Media Zone Authority – Abu Dhabi (MZA) and twofour54, the home of media and entertainment in Abu Dhabi. She is Chair of Abu Dhabi Media Company and Chair of Abu Dhabi National Exhibitions Company (ADNEC Group). In 2014, she was named as one of Forbes Middle East’s 30 Most Influential Women in Government; and was awarded ‘Business Woman of the Year’ at the Gulf Business Industry Awards.

Gabo Arora
Co-Founder and Creative Director, Tomorrow Never Knows

Gabo Arora is a multi award-winning immersive artist, filmmaker, thinker and humanitarian. His work has been heralded by the LA times as “game-changing” and “transcending all the typical barriers of rectangular cinema” and has exhibited at festivals, museums and fora around the world, including the White House, Museum of Modern Art in New York and the World Economic Forum in Davos.

Rt. Hon. David Cameron
Rt. Hon. David Cameron, Former Prime Minister of the United Kingdom
Anthony Geffen
CEO and Creative Director, Atlantic Productions

Anthony Geffen is one of the world’s leading documentary film makers and a pioneer in multi-platform storytelling. He has won four British Academy awards (BAFTAs) and eight American Emmy Awards. He followed Ang Lee and James Cameron to be presented in Hollywood with the Charles Wheatstone Award for his outstanding contribution to film and television. His diverse films include eleven projects with Sir David Attenborough including the BBC series The Great Barrier Reef, the theatrical film The Wildest Dream: Conquest of Everest and the recently acclaimed The Coronation with The Queen. He is considered by the media as a visionary for storytelling across different digital multi-platforms in 3D, interactive apps, and now immersive VR, AR and AI experiences. These include Space Decent, The Munduruku, First Life and Health VR. In 2007 he received the first British Academy Award for VR storytelling. Anthony is a fellow at St. Cross College, Oxford University.

Sir Lynton Crosby
Chief Executive Officer, The C|T Group

Sir Lynton Crosby is a renowned campaign strategist and Co-Founder of international campaigns consultancy, the C|T Group. His track record includes successful campaigns for Australian Prime Minister John Howard, and, against the odds, securing two terms for Boris Johnson as Mayor of London. At the 2015 UK General Election, Sir Lynton steered the Conservative Party to a historic victory, taking the party from a 12-point deficit to a near 7-point lead and returning them to government with an increased share of the vote for the first time since 1955. Drawing on skills and experience acquired over a lifetime of political campaigning, Sir Lynton has also advised some of the world’s leading businesses, ensuring they are armed with the research, strategy, messaging and campaign execution with which to achieve their goals.

David Rothkopf
CEO, The Rothkopf Group

David J. Rothkopf is CEO of The Rothkopf Group (TRG), a diversified media and advisory firm focusing on international issues. TRG is co-creator and co-presenter of CultureSummit, a global event convening international leaders from the policy, culture and tech communities each year in Abu Dhabi. It is also convener of The Policy Forum events and web platforms and presenter of the Deep State Radio Network where he hosts the acclaimed Deep State Radio podcast. Additionally, David is a visiting scholar at the Carnegie Endowment for International Peace, and a Senior Fellow at the School of Advanced International Studies (SAIS). David is the author of numerous internationally acclaimed books, including The Great Questions of Tomorrow, Power, Inc., Superclass, Running the World, and National Insecurity: American Leadership in an Age of Fear. He is a frequent contributor to leading newspapers, magazines and media outlets, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, the Financial Times, the Los Angeles Times, MSNBC, CNN, Time, the National (UAE), Ha’aretz and many others.

Ed Williams
CEO - UK and Ireland, Vice Chairman - Europe, Edelman

Ed leads Edelman’s UK and Ireland business, and is also Vice Chairman, Europe. Before joining the firm in 2011, he oversaw communications for two global media companies: the BBC and Reuters. He advises senior executives on corporate communications and strategy as well as issues and crisis management. As a former TV and print journalist, he still likes to turn his hand to speech and op-ed writing. Ed serves on a number of boards, including the Royal College of Art, the Woolf Institute and Crisis Group’s International Advisory Council. A graduate of Harvard Business School’s AMP, he is one of the Evening Standard’s 1,000 most influential Londoners.

Amb. Nancy Brinker
Global Consultant, Hologic Inc. and Founder of Susan G. Komen

The Honorable Nancy Brinker is the founder of Susan G. Komen for the Cure, the world’s largest network of breast cancer survivors and activists fighting to save lives, ensure quality care for all, and energize science to find cures. Nancy has also been named Goodwill Ambassador for Cancer Control for the United Nations World Health Organization. Nancy earned wide bipartisan praise in serving as the U.S. Ambassador to Hungary and United States Chief of Protocol during in the George W. Bush Administration. In 2009, President Barack Obama honored Brinker’s lifetime dedication to service by presenting her with the Presidential Medal of Freedom. In 2010, Brinker because a best-selling author with her personal memoir, Promise Me. Nancy has also served on numerous nonprofit and corporate boards. In addition to being a lifetime member of the Council on Foreign Relations, she is a Global Advisor on Breast Cancer to Hologic, Inc.

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