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在线翻译:
szdaily -> Opinion
AI is more than a tech issue
    2017-November-20  08:53    Shenzhen Daily

Winton Dong

dht0620@126.com

THE 19th China Hi-Tech Fair (CHTF) is being held in Shenzhen from Nov. 16 to 21.

After almost 20 years of fine tuning, the fair has become one of the best commercial platforms for the IT industry in the world. Many famous companies, such as Tencent, were originally discovered on the platform and gradually developed into multinational conglomerates.

This year’s high-tech fair highlights 5G communication technology and artificial intelligence (AI). According to insiders, with the help of 5G technology, we will be able to download 120 films, with an average length of 1.5 hours, on our smartphones in a single second. The speed of communication is already thrilling and earth-shaking, but it will be dwarfed by the rapid development and wide application of AI on robots, algorithms and big data.

Feelings about AI are very complicated and split among different people. Some say AI will not create conflict with humanity but will serve as a tool at our disposal, as the human brain will remain the most powerful. Others argue that AI could take off on its own, and re-design itself at an ever-increasing rate, leaving humans, who are limited by the slow pace of biological evolution, doomed to be superceded.

For example, AlphaGo is a computer program that was developed by Google’s Deepmind to play the ancient Chinese board game Go. At the May 2017 Future of Go Summit, the AlphaGo Master beat the world No. 1 ranked player, Ke Jie, in a three-game match. After this, AlphaGo was awarded the professional 9-dan level by the Chinese Weiqi Association.

Deepmind has recently launched AlphaGo Zero, a new version created without using data from human games. The latest version can learn on its own, making it much stronger than previous versions and marking a significant step forward in the capabilities of AI algorithms. By playing games against itself, AlphaGo Zero matched mankind’s thousands of years of Go playing experience in three days, reached the level of AlphaGo Master in 21 days, and outperformed the Master version in 40 days, showing the powerful effects of deep learning and reinforcement learning.

Since AI is gradually penetrating every cell of our society, it should not be thought of as only a tech issue, but also as an ethical issue. The astonishing abilities of AI have aroused anxiety and concerns among lay people and scientists alike. In January 2015, famous physicist Stephen Hawking and the founder of Tesla Elon Musk, along with dozens of other experts, signed an open letter calling for research on the societal impacts of AI. The letter affirmed that society could reap great potential benefits from AI, but called for concrete research on how to prevent certain potential pitfalls of creating something which is out of our control.

In an interview with the BBC, Hawking admitted his fears about the consequences of future creations, which could match or surpass the current abilities of humans. “The development of full artificial intelligence could spell the end of the human race,” the physicist warned.

At the end of October, Saudi Arabia granted citizenship to a robot named Sophia, making her the first robot citizen in the world. The move has stirred a heated global debate about the future of AI development. According to a report by the Mirror, in March 2016, Sophia’s creator, David Hanson, asked her at a live demonstration, “Do you want to destroy humans? Please say no.” Sophia responded, “OK, I will destroy humans.”

Recognizing the citizenship of a robot is a historic event. With the rapid development of AI, more and more robots will probably be granted such a status in the future. This raises many questions. Since they are citizens, can they marry one another? Can they marry human beings? Do they share the right to vote or be voted for? Do they have other rights equal to human beings? Can they be unplugged if they lose control? All kinds of ethical problems will soon arise and crack our brains.

Regardless of whether we embrace or dislike it, AI is making big strides, deconstructing our old world without mercy and reshaping a new one. We don’t know what AI will provide us even in the next second, let alone where it will ultimately lead. Always unpredictable and always changing — this may be the real charisma and core value of human life.

(The author is the editor-in-chief of the Shenzhen Daily with a Ph.D. from the Journalism and Communication School of Wuhan University.)

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