Shaping a smart world

Updated 2017-07-06 09:52:30 China Daily
Li Yanhong calls on people to embrace the AI era.

Li Yanhong calls on people to embrace the AI era.

Tech executives release new books in China on the future of artificial intelligence.

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.

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