Sunday, January 22, 2017

On the Disruption of Artificial Intelligence - Notes from Davos

  • Last week, the World Economic Forum released comments about artificial intelligence in “The Global Risks Report 2017” which included: “Every step forward in artificial intelligence (AI) challenges assumptions about what machines can do. Myriad opportunities for economic benefit have created a stable flow of investment into AI research and development, but with the opportunities come risks to decision-making, security and governance. Increasingly intelligent systems supplanting both blue- and white-collar employees are exposing the fault lines in our economic and social systems and requiring policy-makers to look for measures that will build resilience to the impact of automation … Tasks such as trading stocks, writing sports summaries, flying military planes and keeping a car within its lane on the highway are now all within the domain of [AI]. As [AI] applications expand, so do the risks of these applications operating in unforeseeable ways or outside the control of humans
  • Comments from attendees at the organization’s annual Davos gathering included:
  • Salesforce.com CEO Marc Benioff - “I think now about how artificial intelligence will create digital refugees and how people will be displaced from jobs, tens of millions of people across the planet, because technology is moving forward so rapidly … This is the moment, I think, when we have the highest level of anxiety because we can see advances in AI that are beyond what we had expected … It’s happening at a rate and a capability that we are worrying about how it will impact the everyman, the broad range of workers around the world … There is no clear path forward”,
  • Hewlett Packard Enterprise CEO Meg Whitman -  "Jobs will be lost, jobs will evolve and this revolution is going to be ageless, it's going to be classless and it's going to affect everyone",
  • Procter & Gamble CEO  David Taylor -  "If we don't own responsibility (for the problem of displaced workers), it's only going to get bigger", 
  • Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella - “Is the surplus [benefit] that is going to be created because of breakthroughs in AI . . . only going to the few or is it going to be more inclusive growth? That is a very pressing challenge … I think we’ve got to talk about how the surplus is distributed.”


MY TAKE
  • Regardless of the concerns shared by some Davos attendees, the use of AI will become more pervasive as businesses integrate it into various products and services to improve efficiency and lower costs.
  • Those hoping that populist-driven policy initiatives will address technology disruption will likely be disappointed.

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