Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the Lens of Islamic Economics – V

We can take comfort with the forecast that AI will firmly stay within human control and conveniently, trash the forecast of some that machines will become incomprehensibly smarter than humans with artificial super intelligence (ASI). However, in the event ASI materializes, it will be beyond our control. We can only hope that, before the inevitable…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the Lens of Islamic Economics – IV

Text analysis may be useful, for instance, for a waqf organization to know what the neighborhood feels about the public goods (education, healthcare, orphan care etc.) it provides. An association of zakat organizations in a country concerned about a high rate of “donor attrition” may feel the need for a “feel-good analysis” of donors. A…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the Lens of Islamic Economics – III

When a poor and needy individual (faqir/ miskeen) is wrongly classified as non-poor and deprived of zakat (a case of false-negative) or a rich is wrongly classified as poor and receives zakat (a case of false-positive), it involves ethical dilemmas of varying order. Of course, there are in-built mechanisms within the classification models to address…

Artificial Intelligence (AI) through the Lens of Islamic Economics – I

Intelligence, intellect, rationality may be subsumed under the notion of Aql in Islamic economics. However, when intelligence is artificial, it raises new issues and challenges. This is the first in a series of blogs that touches upon this issue and sets the stage for further discussion on application of AI in Islamic finance. Let me…

Blockchains through the Lens of Islamic Economics

Verifiability, traceability, immutability, validation through consensus, sharing through network, inter-generational distribution - attributes and concepts common to block chain methodology have a root in Islamic scholarship. The “chain” played a significant role in shaping the contours of Islamic economics, by creating the authenticated and tamper-proof records of the words of God and the words and…

The Issue of Anonymity in Digital Zakat

Identity brings in many benefits in the context of zakat distribution (as underlined in my earlier blog). Lack of identity or anonymity on the part of the beneficiaries is certainly not desirable. It should be obvious that a digital environment makes it possible for the zakat organization to collect many types of personal data. Zakat…

The Issue of Identity in Digital Distribution of Zakat

My last blog ended on a note that digitizing zakat payments to beneficiaries would be more efficient, as compared to payments involving hard cash or in-kind payments, by avoiding costs related to leakages, fraud and ensuring greater accountability. This comes with a few qualifiers, however. We assume that the technology and infrastructure is there. And…