INTERVIEW AT AI ASIA 2017

In Asia, which sectors do you see A.I having notable impact on?

Most sectors will be affected by this transformative technology, and the economy and society in particular. Employment is often discussed in this context, as it touches upon all sectors. Automation and virtualization are expected to take over ‘in the middle’ jobs, deepening the gap between low and high-end positions and worsen inequalities. However, these employment deficits come with the benefits of increased health care with accurate surgical robots and diagnostics, improved education with accessible and adaptive systems, and enhanced services. For centuries, humans have been working. We have come to define our place in society according to our profession. Modern economies subsist on the constant exchange of goods and services, but these dynamics are changing, and we must change with them. This is especially critical to Asia, home to over half of the world population, and to some of the most powerful and promising economies.

 

With A.I. operating at the edge, society will experience more direct interactions with autonomous machines. This is especially relevant to Asia, proving highly receptive towards and showing strong demand for intelligent collaborative machines. Personal and routine human-intelligent machine interactions are profoundly altering the way we search, receive, process, and share information. Advanced communication systems are among the core capabilities that distinguish us from animals. This enabled the evolution and coexistence of multiple civilizations. We are introducing a new communicative entity into this system, capable of self-learning. This allows it to both natively communicate with humans and even invent its own language. Communication is the very fabric of society, needed for companionship, trade, and individual and collective realization. Now it is transforming the way we interact with the world around us in new ways that we do not fully understand. This affects every single one of us.

 

What are the top challenges future leaders of A.I are facing today?

Among the myriad of important challenges A.I. leaders face today, are the ability and incentive to create A.I. technologies that are both innovative and beneficial for society. To do so, leaders should move away from the false assumption that innovative and collectively beneficial technologies are mutually exclusive.

 

A.I. leaders are under immense pressure to innovate to maintain their position. Technology is therefore invented and reinvented to fulfill market needs and create new ones. This cycle leaves little time and incentive to account for the long-term implications of the technology we develop. Take smart algorithms with hidden biases, for example, at best, they cause embarrassment and at worst, disadvantage entire populations. And yet, they are developed and deployed extensively, trapped in that exact cycle. In the global race for A.I. dominance, leaders rarely stop to consider that the fact that they can quickly develop a new technology to gain market advantage, means that they should. And at what cost?

 

A.I. leaders create today the technology of tomorrow, and have difficulty imagining future challenges. But luckily for us, A.I. leaders have the most advanced mechanisms to predict and respond to commercial and social needs, by doing market research and constructively engaging with users and regulators. They are therefore best positioned to anticipate the challenges of tomorrow, and address them by building a better, safer, and more sustainable technology today.

These are challenges A.I. leaders must be incentivized to face and overcome now. We are all this incentive. A.I. is ubiquitous, and even though few create and regulate it, we all use it. Innovation and collective benefit are, therefore, mutually necessary. Otherwise, A.I. technology will not succeed in bringing about a positive transformation, and we will all be on the losing side.

 

If there is an advice for key leaders to prepare for the fast changing world, due to the advancement of A.I, what would it be?

Preparing for the future is never an easy task, especially when we don’t fully understand A.I. in the present. However, there are several ways of ensuring that when these advancements occur, we will be better equipped to assess and respond to the situation at hand. Here are four things we can do, which apply to key leaders in government, industry, academia, and the general public.

 

First, become more tech-savvy. Learn about it yourself or be open to expert opinions. A.I. is going to affect every one of us. The more you understand the technology the better prepared you will be to turn this into a positive transformation. Second, be cross-disciplinary. Engage with different perspectives and gain a deeper understanding of how A.I. is going to affect you. There will be many ways: economic, ethical, legal, social, regulatory, and technical. Third, be thoughtful. Think of the long-term economic, environmental, and social implications alongside reaping the short-term benefits of being innovative. We are creating the future we want to live in and pass down to our descendants today. Fourth, be proactive. Don’t wait for the problems to arise before you try to mitigate them, as we have with nuclear and environmental threats. Consider and approach future possibilities and challenges with care, and take preemptive measures to ensure safety and collective benefits. Knowledge informs thoughts, thoughts create actions, actions shape reality.

 

 

BACK TO NEWSROOM

 

Danit Gal

Chair of outreach Committee

 

IEEE

 

 

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