SHAP­ING A SMART WORLD Tech executives re­lease new books in China on the fu­ture of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. Xing Yi re­ports.

China Daily (Hong Kong) - - YOUTH -

The next decade will be­long to ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence. This is what Kai-fu Lee, a for­mer ex­ec­u­tive with tech com­pa­nies such as Google Inc and Mi­crosoft Corp, said at his com­mence­ment speech to stu­dents at Columbia Uni­ver­sity on May 15.

Lee makes his point clearer in a new book, Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, which he co-au­thored with Wang Yong­gang, a for­mer soft­ware engi­neer at Google.

The book was pub­lished in Chi­nese in May.

Af­ter get­ting his PhD in com­puter science from Carnegie Mel­lon Uni­ver­sity in the 1980s, Lee de­voted three decades in AI re­search.

“In the next 10 years, all fi­nan­cial com­pa­nies will be turned up­side down, with AI re­plac­ing traders, bankers, ac­coun­tants ...” Lee said dur­ing his speech, jok­ing that he would fire his pri­vate banker be­cause his in­vest­ment al­go­rithm has proved to be more ef­fi­cient than hu­man bankers.

In their book, Lee and Wang pre­dict that about 50 per­cent of the jobs held by hu­mans now — jobs that re­quire “less than five sec­onds of think­ing” — will be re­placed by AI in the near fu­ture.

The most promis­ing fields where AI will play a greater role, Lee spec­i­fies, are auto driv­ing, smart fi­nance, ma­chine trans­la­tion and com­puter-aided clin­i­cal di­ag­no­sis.

Does that mean AI will make more peo­ple un­em­ployed?

Lee’s an­swer is: Yes, inevitably.

But he also sees an up­com­ing change in the types of jobs that peo­ple will soon pur­sue in re­sponse to the chal­lenge from AI.

“At least half of the peo­ple should find their new po­si­tions in a fu­ture of man-ma­chine col­lab­o­ra­tion,” they write in the book.

While list­ing many tasks in which AI pro­grams out­per­form peo­ple, the au­thors also in­clude a chap­ter on what AI can­not pos­si­bly achieve — log­i­cal de­duc­tion and ab­strac­tion across dif­fer­ent fields, imag­i­na­tion, aes­thetic eval­u­a­tion and hu­man emo­tions, and self-con­scious­ness.

“The un­em­ploy­ment prob­lem caused by the use of AI pro­grams and ro­bots won’t be as se­ri­ous as many have been wor­ried,” ac­cord­ing to the book. “Sim­ple jobs will be re­placed, and new jobs will be cre­ated.”

In another new book, In­tel­li­gence Rev­o­lu­tion: Em­brac­ing the So­ci­etal, Eco­nomic and Cul­tural Changes in the Age of Ar­ti­fi­cial In­tel­li­gence, Li Yan­hong, the founder of Baidu Inc, paints a sim­i­lar pic­ture but with more de­tails.

Pub­lished in April, the book is crammed with tech­no­log­i­cal terms, com­pany prod­ucts and the Chi­nese tech com­pany’s AI vi­sion.

It tries to tell those who are in­ter­ested in the com­pany how it will chart the course into the next big mar­ket, just as the book’s ti­tle goes — “em­brac­ing the so­ci­etal, eco­nomic and cul­tural changes in the age of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence”.

The com­pany is one of the fore­run­ners in AI re­search in China, and in his book, Li is urg­ing the govern­ment to do deeper and wider AI re­search on a na­tional level.

In his book, Li ad­vo­cates us­ing AI and big data to solve prob­lems of child traf­fick­ing and traf­fic con­ges­tion, among other is­sues. He also made the pro­posal to the Chi­nese Peo­ple’s Po­lit­i­cal Con­sul­ta­tive Con­fer­ence, the coun­try’s top ad­vi­sory body, dur­ing its an­nual session in March. He is a mem­ber of the CPPCC.

Liu Cixin, the ac­claimed science fic­tion writer, has writ­ten the pref­ace for In­tel­li­gence Rev­o­lu­tion.

Liu thinks that there are two pos­si­bil­i­ties of how hu­man so­ci­ety will em­brace the age of AI.

First, it may not adapt it­self quickly to the wide use of AI, caus­ing all kinds of so­cial, eco­nomic and po­lit­i­cal prob­lems.

“The world will be trou­bled by the waves of un­em­ploy­ment and the end­less conflicts en­sued,” he writes in the pref­ace.

Sec­ond, peo­ple make a suc­cess­ful tran­si­tion, and it will be the big­gest change ever in peo­ple’s lives.

Con­tact the writer at xingyi@ chi­


Li Yan­hong calls on peo­ple to em­brace the AI era.


Kai-fu Lee en­vi­sions more op­por­tu­ni­ties in tur­moils of change.

Ar­ti­fi­cialIn­tel­li­gence by Kai-fu Lee and Wang Yong­gang.

In­tel­li­genceRevo­lu­tion by Li Yan­hong.

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