Har­ness­ing Tech­nol­ogy

Is Ai a threat or as­sis­tance to fu­ture hu­man de­vel­op­ment?

ChinAfrica - - PROS AND CONS - By Xia Yuanyuan

in sci­ence fic­tion movies like West­world, ro­bots are awak­ing; in Blade Run­ner, the con­scious­ness of ro­bots is ris­ing; and in The Ma­trix, peo­ple are trapped in a vir­tual world by ro­bots. In the real world, we haven’t yet reached these lev­els of so­phis­ti­cated au­to­ma­tion. How­ever, rapid ad­vance­ment in the field of ar­ti­fi­cial in­tel­li­gence (AI) in re­cent years is caus­ing some con­cern that tech­nol­ogy may one day take con­trol of hu­man des­tiny. AI’S power has been am­ply demon­strated, for ex­am­ple, by the suc­ces­sive wins of Google’s Al­phago over the best hu­man Go play­ers in 2017, which made in­ter­na­tional head­lines. Go is an ab­stract strat­egy board game for two play­ers. In the same year, Saudi Ara­bia granted cit­i­zen­ship to a hu­manoid ro­bot called “Sophia,” that is ca­pa­ble of de­tect­ing and un­der­stand­ing mo­tion, fa­cial ex­pres­sion and speech, and re­acts in hu­man fash­ion.

On the com­pany’s June-18 an­niver­sary this year, Chi­nese e-com­merce gi­ant JD brought its au­tonomous de­liv­ery ve­hi­cles to the streets of Tian­jin Mu­nic­i­pal­ity to be­gin au­to­mated de­liv­ery op­er­a­tions. It’s hard to imag­ine an in­dus­try that won’t be im­pacted or even dis­rupted by AI in the next decade, ev­ery­thing from trans­porta­tion, real-es­tate and fi­nan­cial ser­vices to con­struc­tion, fast­food and cus­tomer ser­vice.

With so much spec­u­la­tion and con­spir­acy the­o­ries, the ques­tion needs to be asked can AI re­place hu­man be­ings in the fu­ture?

Ex­ten­sive ap­pli­ca­tion

AI has been rolled out in var­i­ous ar­eas. It not only has lib­er­ated hu­mans from triv­ial and repet­i­tive work, but also can sat­is­fac­to­rily ac­com­plish tasks that are oth­er­wise un­achiev­able by hu­man be­ings, due to ei­ther phys­i­cal or in­tel­lec­tual con­straints.

Com­puter vi­sion, or the sci­ence and tech­nol­ogy of ma­chines that see, is one of the most rapidly de­vel­op­ing ar­eas in AI, and re­searchers have made break­throughs in re­lated tasks. For ex­am­ple, in image clas­si­fi­ca­tion tasks, the most ad­vanced neu­ral net­work model has reached about 80

per­cent ac­cu­racy.

Be­sides, AI is ca­pa­ble of per­form­ing tasks such as speech recog­ni­tion and trans­la­tion as well as hu­mans. AI ma­chines can also do many tasks where learn­ing and judg­ment is re­quired, in­clud­ing self-driv­ing cars, in­sur­ance as­sess­ment, stock trad­ing, ac­count­ing and hu­man re­sources.

The AI tech­nol­ogy em­ployed by Equbot, a San Fran­cisco-based com­pany, can process more data than the port­fo­lio man­agers whom it has “gen­er­ated un­bi­ased de­ci­sions un­der a set of in­vest­ment cri­te­ria,” ac­cord­ing to the com­pany.

So is the world ap­proach­ing a job­less fu­ture, or will new jobs re­place the ones that are lost?

Re­place­ment or sup­ple­ment

De­spite AI’S rapid de­vel­op­ment, the jury is still out on whether it will re­place hu­mans.

Elon Musk, CEO of both aerospace man­u­fac­turer Spacex and elec­tric car pro­ducer Tesla, has pre­dicted a fu­ture sce­nario where “su­per AI” will pose real threats to the very ex­is­tence of mankind, and hu­man be­ings will have to face that chal­lenge.

How­ever, Satya Nadella, CEO of Mi­crosoft, views AI as some­thing to be em­braced and not feared.

He said that it is up to hu­mans them­selves whether AI would prove to be an aid to hu­man­ity or end up de­stroy­ing it.

Li Feifei, Chief Sci­en­tist of Google Cloud AI and Ma­chine Learn­ing, also be­lieves that hu­mans have ul­ti­mate con­trol over AI and are able to make it work in har­mony with peo­ple. “Ma­chines don’t have in­de­pen­dent value. The value of ma­chines is the value of hu­man be­ings,” Li said in an in­ter­view with Xin­hua News Agency.

Ac­cord­ing to Lei Yanan, As­so­ciate Pro­fes­sor of School of Physics at Pek­ing Univer­sity, de­spite the as­tound­ing achieve­ments of AI, for the time be­ing, its use is still lim­ited to iso­lated fields and lacks uni­ver­sal ap­pli­ca­bil­ity. In most in­dus­tries, pro­fes­sion­als are still needed and de­mand for these skilled peo­ple is high. These pro­fes­sion­als are needed to mon­i­tor and main­tain the op­er­a­tion of AI sys­tems. AI will there­fore be a sup­ple­ment for hu­man skills rather than a re­place­ment, says Lei.

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xyy@chi­nafrica.cn

The Apo­long can per­form driver­less op­er­a­tions such as ob­sta­cle avoid­ance and swerv­ing

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