“By some estimates, 47% of existing jobs in the US could be replaced by automation,” said Wendell Wallach, Scholar, Interdisciplinary Center for Bioethics, Yale University, USA. “When the World Bank used similar methodology, it came up with 69% in India, and 77% in China. If that’s truly the case, we are talking about tremendous jobs being lost,” he added. The central concern is: what are we training our children for in the future? How should they be cooperating with these technologies to go beyond what any machine alone can realize and perhaps bring about super intelligence, he asked.
Lee Sedol, Grand Master, Korea Baduk Association, Republic of Korea, pointed to the need to think ahead and focus on solving disruptions brought on by technologies such as driverless vehicles. “We will see driverless cars become a reality in the future, but that will not cause too much confusion. Humans and self-driven cars can coexist. But, if there are many such cars in 20-30 years’ time, we will not need drivers anymore.” Lee was defeated in a historic Go match with artificial intelligence software earlier this year.
Turning to his globally watched face-off with AlphaGo, created by artificial intelligence firm Google DeepMind, Lee said a rematch in future is unlikely, as he did not enjoy the experience of playing against the software. “If I were to play again, with the knowledge and experience I gained from that match, I would have more opportunities to win. But I don’t think I will play with AlphaGo again. There was no exchange of emotions when I played against it. However, in the game, the level of pressure was out of my imagination. It’s very difficult to play without feeling and emotion.”
On lessons that can be drawn from that match, the panel agreed that software such as AlphaGo has many practical, applications in areas with massive amounts of data that the human mind is unable to compute, such as analysing recurring patterns for national disease intervention programmes, for example.
Dileep George, Co-Founder and Chief Technology Officer, Vicarious, USA, noted that there is no shame in machines defeating humans in games. Pointing to the example of chess software, he said that it has not stopped humans from engaging in the game, nor have spelling-bee competitions disappeared because computers can spell better. Such technology developments have had the unintended and positive impact of forcing people to connect more with one another, he argued.