PAI in the Smart City — Can Personal AI Shine in the World’s First Fully Integrated Smart City?

2017 has been a banner year for the blockchain industry. Along with the meteoric rise of Bitcoin, Ethereum, and other cryptocurrencies, there’s been a public awakening among companies and governments regarding the potential uses of blockchain technology. Some businesses like IBMMicrosoft, and Oracle have already rolled out blockchain services in addition to their regular offerings, but no other city or government has committed as many resources to pursuing blockchain integration like Dubai has. With the blessing of Vice President and Prime Minister of the United Arab Emirates and ruler of Dubai His Highness Sheikh Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum the government of Dubai aims to lead the world by becoming the first fully integrated smart city, and they’re doing it with AI and blockchain.

My co-founder Adam and I recently attended the World Blockchain Summit in Dubai to present ObEN’s mission of using Personal AI (PAI) on the blockchain to allow people to create independent avatars that can accomplish tasks and interact with other PAIs and services online. We left the conference very impressed with what we saw and heard there. While quite a few governments around the world have talked about blockchain and AI, with some even convening exploratory committees to study the subject further, Dubai’s leadership has already launched initiatives to push the adoption of these technologies across the city.

ObEN is one of the earliest adopters of Project PAI, the world’s first decentralized platform for intelligent avatars, and we are currently building applications using our Personal AI (PAI) technology on the PAI blockchain. Our proprietary technology lets anyone create their own intelligent avatar with a simple selfie and a few recorded lines. These intelligent 3D avatars look like you, speak in your voice, and can even think like you. When attached to the blockchain, every PAI interaction serves to improve the individual users PAI, as well as the collective PAI community. With more use, the PAIs become smarter and more useful to their owners. Eventually these PAIs will be able to perform a myriad of tasks on your behalf, saving you time and energy. They will even be able to pick up skills that their user may not possess, like communicating in multiple languages.

Dubai’s smart city project is a perfect place for 3rd party PAI applications to be developed and implemented. The city has already established the Dubai Future Foundation to foster technological advancements that aim to improve the lives’ of the city’s residents. Launched in October of 2016, Dubai’s plan for blockchain integration has three pillars to guide the development and integration of the technology: government efficiency, industry creation, and international leadership — each pillar of which can potentially benefit from PAI on the blockchain.

To make their government more efficient, Dubai is switching to a paperless model whereby all government transactions are recorded on the blockchain, creating an immutable record. This will make government services much easier to access for citizens and visitors, and also considerably reduce the labor required to provide these services, while simultaneously reducing bureaucratic opacity and the massive CO2 footprint of prevailing paper-based record systems. With all government services moving to an online digital format, a PAI avatar in this environment would be able to handle the majority of service requests without an individual having to spend any time waiting in line or filling out forms. For people that have had to navigate the often maddening maze of government bureaucracy, this will make obtaining these services incredibly easy by comparison.

In order to meet their goal of creating blockchain businesses in Dubai, the government has launched a two pronged program to both develop and nurture local human capital and entrepreneurs, as well as attract talented professionals and innovators from abroad. This includes the formation of the Global Blockchain Council, dedicated to sharing and exploring the potential applications of blockchain technology with other governments and leading innovators from around the globe. The theoretical solutions get turned into practical ones through the Dubai Future Accelerators program, which has created partnerships with leading government agencies including the city planners, police, road and transport authority, health authority, university system, and the main Dubai holding company. These organizations propose challenges and invite companies to submit proposals and work with relevant authorities to develop prototype solutions that are then tested in one of the most dynamic urban environments in the world.

Integrating blockchain throughout an entire city creates an unprecedented opportunity for a network of PAIs and PAI users to digitally interact with everything from healthcare providers (personalized healthcare advice 24/7 through your doctor’s PAI) to transportation systems (PAI’s can plan travel routes and navigate through traffic before you even step out the door). A plethora of personal, business, and government interactions can all occur autonomously and securely with verified PAIs. Dubai’s leadership anticipate technology leaders taking advantage of this unique opportunity, and have already laid out a strategy for sharing and utilizing data submitted by citizens, visitors, and government agencies — data that will be vital to refining and improving PAIs across the network.

As part of their plan for global leadership, Dubai is using blockchain verification and security to pre-approve visas, driver’s licenses, transportation, accommodation, and other services for international travelers. An international visitor will arrive at the airport and immediately be able to interface with the services available in this smart city. With application of PAI technology, before a visitor travels to Dubai their PAI can coordinate their itinerary, fill out all relevant forms for visas and other documentation, secure business services, and ensure access to healthcare — all without the actual person lifting a finger. While in Dubai, their PAI can help find local restaurants and hotspots, provide information on the city’s rich culture and history, and even interact with local PAI’s to gain more familiarity with the city.

I admire the vision that the leaders of Dubai have shown in embracing technology and knowledge as the means to ensure a brighter future for their citizens. Their plan to become a smart city via mass integration of blockchain solutions can potentially provide unparalleled convenience, comfort, and security to the cities residents and its visitors. I look forward to exploring everything Personal AI can do for citizens and visitors in the world’s first smart city.


About the Author: Nikhil Jain is the co-founder and CEO of ObEN, which creates Personal Artificial Intelligence (PAI) that can look, speak, sing, and even act like the user.


ObEN is an artificial intelligence company that creates complete virtual identities for consumers and celebrities in the emerging digital world. ObEN provides Personal AI that simulates a person’s voice, face and personality, enabling never before possible social and virtual interactions. Founded in 2014, ObEN is a Softbank Ventures Korea and HTC Vive X portfolio company and is located at Idealab in Pasadena, California.