Could robots take over the world?

Updated 2017-07-06 16:52:31 CGTN

The fourth industrial revolution is on its way. As many companies are making progress in technology breakthroughs, some bring up the question whether the fast and irrational growth of technology might end up hurting humans.

China is embracing robotics evolution with the same full-on intensity that's made it a force in high-speed rail and renewable energy. Robotics is viewed as a stepping stone to a broader strategic goal: dominating emerging markets for artificial intelligence (AI), driver-less vehicles and digitally-connected appliances and homes.

While it's also more efficient for companies to use robotic workers, some are worried that jobs held by people could eventually be replaced by robots.

Companies that promote intelligent manufacturing in China, like General Electrics, say that should not be a worry, because "the future for China is going to be intelligent machine and intelligent manufacturing. And then you will have more skillful jobs".

"I actually think it will create new opportunities. There's a huge demographic change. If you look at the younger generation born after 1985s, are they still willing to spend their entire career still on the assembly line? Probably not," said Rachel Duan, president and CEO of General Electrics Greater China.

However, Robots replacing humans in lower-end jobs might be the least concern. Many warn that more precaution should be about the potential risks if robot do have an "evil brain".

Such concern is not a groundless rumor. The scientist Stephen Hawking has ever warned, "The use of AI could also be the last invention of humanity, unless we learn how to avoid the risks."

Microsoft's AI Chatbots made the doubt a reality. The Chatbot Tay spent less than 24 hours to become racist and sexist. And the company's new Chatbot Zo has started making unprompted and worrying accusations about the Qur'an.

Prof. Wang Chao, vice chair of Institute of Electrical and Electronic Engineers (IEEE) China Council, noted that although governments around the world have been keeping a close eye on the development of AI technology, the real power still lies in the discretion of the companies developing the technology.

"When companies are designing its AI technology and applying it to industrial use, they need to think about whether their algorithm is reliable, and whether they have accurate training data. No matter what they do, they need to make sure that the technology is in line with human and society's moral code and standard," Wang stressed.

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