Queen Rania of Jordan highlights differences in treatment of refugees during speech at Web Summit in Lisbon


LONDON: Queen Rania Al-Abdullah of Jordan has warned of the dangers posed by humanity’s growing reliance on technology and called for greater emphasis on its use to improve people’s lives most vulnerable people in the world.

“The real progress we need is not better machines, but that we all be better humans,” she said Wednesday at the Web Summit in Lisbon, in her keynote address at a session titled “Battling Built-In Biases,” the Jordan News Agency reported.

Jordan is taking part in the annual summit for the first time, founded in 2009 and described as Europe’s biggest tech event.

Queen Rania argued that we have become ‘addicted’ to our devices, citing findings from the Digital 2022 global summary report that the average daily time spent online has increased by four minutes a day over the past year , which represents an additional day per person per year.

“If someone told us that we would have one extra day a year, would we conclude that the best thing we could do for our families, for our communities, for our world was to take those extra 24 hours and reinvest them in our screens? she asked.

“I fear we are undervaluing the most valuable currency of all, our time. I fear that even though virtual reality is improving day by day, we are neglecting the needs of our real reality. And our mental health suffers too.

The Queen also noted that while the international community’s response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has demonstrated just how much can be achieved through collective action, it also highlights a “marked difference in generosity, tone and emergency” in relation to the aid given to refugees from Syria, South Sudan and Myanmar.

“It’s hard not to wonder if skin color and religion affect the humanitarian instincts of the global community and if the impulse is to lend a hand or look away,” she said. declared. “Tackling this bias is not the job of an algorithm – it’s up to us.”

Queen Rania also took part in a discussion with CNN Senior International Correspondent Frederik Pleitgen, during which they covered various topics, including inequalities in the global response to refugee crises around the world.

“It is frighteningly simple for the human mind to ignore the suffering of others, especially when they don’t seem to be like us or when they have names we have trouble pronouncing.” she declared.

“That kind of ‘choosy’ compassion, that kind of selective empathy, has real and tragic geopolitical consequences. It’s a blind spot in our humanity; it determines where we look and what we see.

The Queen urged the tech community to work to help alleviate the suffering of refugees.

“The biggest selling point of the technology is that it transcends borders at a time when our world, unfortunately, continues to erect them,” she said.

“Refugees, on a daily basis, face legal, cultural, linguistic, economic barriers and all of you can develop solutions that can help overcome these barriers.”

Queen Rania also met with representatives of a number of Jordanian startups active in the local and global tech scenes, in sectors such as gaming, medical information systems, artificial intelligence, drones and cloud-based video editing.

Startups from across the country are participating in the Web Summit as part of Jordan Source, a program developed in line with the vision of Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah. It aims to promote the Kingdom as a leading destination for investment and innovation in the information and communication technology sector.


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