Tech moguls predict further advances in AI

2016-03-21 13:18China Daily Editor: Qian Ruisha
Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc, talks with Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd at the China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday. (Photo/China Daily)

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc, talks with Jack Ma, chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd at the China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday. (Photo/China Daily)

Future computers will be smarter than humans, but they 'will never be wiser'

Internet tycoons have reached a rare consensus on the promise of artificial intelligence following the historic victory earlier this month for Google Inc's AI-powered AlphaGo over its human competitor, South Korean Go master Lee Se-dol.

The widely watched five-match series came to a close on Tuesday, with four victories for the machine to the human's one.

Mark Zuckerberg, CEO of Facebook Inc, told an audience at the China Development Forum in Beijing on Saturday that he predicted more great advances for AI within the next decade.

"Artificial intelligence will understand senses, such as vision and hearing, and grasp language better than human beings over the next five to 10 years," he said.

Lei Jun, founder and chairman of Chinese smartphone giant Xiaomi Corp, agreed, describing the win as a breakthrough in artificial intelligence.

"It struck me as shocking news. As a big fan of Go, I never expected AI to be able to beat a human champion at the current stage of development since it's a pretty complicated game," he said. He predicted that "fueled by this victory, capital and talent will flood into the AI sector".

Despite the breakthrough, e-commerce mogul Jack Ma, founder and chairman of Alibaba Group Holding Ltd, said there was no need for human beings to fear machines.

"Machines will be stronger and smarter than human beings, but they will never be wiser," he said, "because one thing's for sure: Wisdom, soul and heart are things that only human beings possess, and machines can never enjoy failure, success, friendship or love."

At the forum, tech entrepreneurs also shared their views on virtual reality, which they said will be the most important computing platform over the next five to 10 years.

"There is a trend toward a more immersive and natural tool that can help us interact with the world every day. And I believe that is virtual reality," Zuckerberg said at the forum.

He highlighted Oculus VR, a VR company that Facebook acquired for $2 billion in 2014, saying that it will soon start to ship its latest products.

In February, Xiaomi set up a new division in a bid to branch into the nascent VR sector, which analysts forecast could rival the size of the smartphone industry in the future.

According to a report by Goldman Sachs Group Inc, the VR market will generate $110 billion in hardware sales by 2025, if the technology is quickly adopted.

But for the next two to three years at least it will remain a niche interest, Lei said.

Self-driving cars will be one of the most important advances in science because it could save a lot of people's lives. There is no reason why a computer that doesn't sleep, that always pays attention and that has good memory, can't be a lot safer to drive the car than people.

The connectivity between people and cars is built upon trust of technology. Companies that can change not only the energy but the technology and the process, will be on top of the competition toward self-driving cars because they will move faster than companies that can't.

Chinese innovation has started to win world recognition as more foreign companies are learning from their Chinese tech counterparts. Compared with US firms that often start with tech advances, Chinese Internet companies place tons of emphasis on user experience, business operation and rapid solutions, which are helping us gain a unique edge.

The Internet Plus initiative is not simply to move traditional businesses online. The essence is big data, which will become part of public infrastructure resources. The government and Internet companies should both open their data.


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