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Web Summit, Lisbon: Jordan's Queen Rania brings up the disparate treatment of refugees

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Web Summit, Lisbon: Jordans Queen Rania brings up the disparate treatment of refugees
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London: Jordan's Queen Rania Al-Abdullah has urged an increased emphasis on using technology to better the lives of the world's most vulnerable people, warning of the risks posed by humanity's growing reliance on it.

"The real progress we need is not better machines but for all of us to be better humans," she said at the Web Summit in Lisbon on Wednesday, in her keynote speech during a session titled "Battling Built-In Biases," the Jordan News Agency reported

The annual summit, which was established in 2009 and is referred to as Europe's largest tech event, is welcoming Jordan for the first time.

The findings of the Digital 2022 Global Overview Report, which showed that the average daily amount of time spent online had increased in the previous year by four minutes per day, adding up to one extra day per person per year, were used by Queen Rania to support her claim that we have become "hooked" on our devices.

"If someone told us we'd have one extra day per 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 invest them back into our screens?" she asked.

"I am concerned that we're undervaluing the most precious currency of all — our time. I am concerned that, even as virtual reality improves by the day, we're neglecting the needs of our actual reality. And our mental health is suffering, too."

The queen also observed that although the international community's response to the Ukrainian refugee crisis has shown how much can be accomplished through collective action, it also highlights a noticeable "difference in generosity, tone, and urgency" compared with the assistance provided to refugees from Syria, South Sudan, and Myanmar, Arab News reported.

"It's hard not to wonder if skin colour and religion affect the global community's humanitarian instincts and whether the impulse is to lend a helping hand or look away," she said. "Addressing that prejudice isn't an algorithm's job — it's up to us."

Additionally, Queen Rania participated in a conversation with CNN's senior international correspondent Frederik Pleitgen in which they discussed a range of subjects, including the disparities in the international community's responses to refugee crises around the world.

"It is frighteningly simple for the human mind to tune out the suffering of others, particularly when they do not seem to be like us or when they have names that we find difficult to pronounce," she said.

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

The queen called on the tech industry to do its part to lessen the suffering of refugees.

"The biggest selling point for technology is the fact that it transcends borders at a time when our world, unfortunately, keeps erecting them," she said.

"Refugees, on a daily basis, face legal, cultural, linguistic, and economic barriers and you all can develop solutions that can help overcome those barriers."

In addition, Queen Rania met with representatives from a variety of Jordanian companies working in fields like gaming, medical information systems, artificial intelligence, drone-based solutions, and cloud-based video editing.

Jordan Source, a programme created in accordance with the vision of Crown Prince Al-Hussein bin Abdullah, is bringing startup companies from the nation to the Web Summit. In the field of information and communications technology, it seeks to position the Kingdom as a top location for investment and innovation.


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