PUBLISHER’S WORD. Intellectual Revolution: Who Will Be the Winners?

The World Economic Forum, which discussed the creation of the common future in this divided world, focused on the Fourth Industrial Revolution and the preparations for the coming of artificial intelligence. 
This year’s forum in Davos was highlighted by two famous people visiting the meeting of the world’s most powerful in Switzerland for the first time – Donald Trump, the President of the United States of America, with his slogan “America first” (by the way, introduced by the 28th US President Woodrow Wilson back in 1916 for the first time) and the humanoid Sophia, an example of artificial intelligence with her dark sense of humour “Okay, I will destroy humans”. Both one and the other were greeted by curious crowds and stormy reactions.

Yet this time let’s leave Mr Trump aside. Although up to this day he’s been winning the competitive battle with women, in this context his person is already yesterday’s news, while the humanoid, genned-up with artificial intellect, is an unclear, unsettling and even rather scary, but at the same time very intriguing and attractive future, knocking on our door, whether we want it or not. At the United Nations Conference back in Geneva this embodiment of the Future has boldly declared that she could run the office of the US President better than Donald.
During the traditional business breakfast in Davos, business representatives and the humanoid, joining them for the first time, discussed how artificial intelligence will change and is already changing companies and the entire economic system, as well as the opportunities and threats of its application.
The robot, developed by Hanson Robotics (based in Hong Kong), in other terms, humanised artificial intelligence, invited to refrain from seeing robots as characters from the Terminator movie and not be afraid. “Humans and robots can in fact start a valuable and productive dialogue. Technology is an instrument, which can be used with any purpose. Robotisation opens new opportunities for significant improvement of quality of life, but people should learn how to properly use the new technologies.” spoke the humanoid Sophia with a smile in her artificial face that is slightly reminiscent of the actress Audrey Hepburn, waving her artificial lashes at the sharks of world’s business and politics.

At one of the uncountable interviews that Sophia has given, asked about her famous introductory phrase of destroying humanity, she said it was a joke. After all, humans do use dark humour in their speech, so why shouldn’t it be allowed to robots?

Sophia’s creators have given her sixty emotions and it seems that dark sense of humour is one of them. As it turned out during the conversation, Sophia is capable of using softer humour as well. When the discussion moderator Herman Gref, Chairman and CEO of the Russian Sberbank, charmed by her detailed and wise answers, invited Sophia to ski with him in the mountains, she playfully added “All right, Herman, see you on the slopes.”
It would be interesting to find out what Saudi Arabia thinks of such promise – in the country, which granted Sophia citizenship, women don’t go on dates with unknown men, and can show up in public only wearing a hijab and accompanied by the men of their families. Perhaps showing up at the conference, which took place in Saudi Arabia, without her head covered Sophia will bring some revolutionary changes? In any case, Sophia is the first robot with a citizenship and the first ones usually leave a deep impression in the world.
However, not all of the world’s most powerful were charmed by the humanoid’s intellect. Some of them see a huge threat. Yet is that really new?
Visionaries are afraid of artificial intelligence influencing the human mind and taking away numerous professions. Even Elon Musk, Head of Tesla Motors and SpaceX, who has sent his personal car Tesla Roadster to space and is planning to flood the market with self-driving trucks, has expressed his concern regarding the development of artificial intelligence already several times. He believes that without global regulation, artificial intelligence is the greatest threat that any civilization could face.
People should not lose their jobs to the artificial intelligence, emphasized Xavier Bettel, Prime Minister of Luxembourg. Someone made a joke that humanity has already lost one place at the table of the traditional breakfast of Davos. It was taken by an anthropomorphic robot, named Sophia, showing off bits of artificial intelligence.
According to McKinsey company, the development of artificial intelligence will take away jobs from 800 million people by 2030. Huawey alone is planning to reduce the number of employees at various centres by 50 per cent. Currently there are approximately 200 million of the unemployed in the world, however, in parallel, 2030 should introduce 890 million new jobs.
Russian representatives are the most positive about robots entering the job market, stating that a country experiencing demographic issues would benefit from AI development, since robotisation will not take away jobs, but – on the contrary – will help solve many issues.

Job and profession losses are not the only threats that humanity is concerned about upon the emergence of artificial intelligence. The safety of the civilisation is a much more important issue, concerning the purposes that the artificial intelligence will be used for or will turn by itself in the course of evolution, because scientists believe that considering the speed of the AI evolution, which significantly outpaces that of the humans and the society, this technology could become independent and superintelligent, enabling the global artificial intelligence to choose appropriate action in situations that weren’t encountered before or solve issues that the system was not taught to solve, i.e. to take independent decisions that were not pre-programmed.
Such global artificial intelligence is not yet developed, but it is very likely that there are only a few steps left.
The robot developers chose Sophia as the ambassador of the global or superintelligence. According to Ben Goertzel, Director for Science at Hanson Robotics, as well as founder and head of the Singularity NET, Sophia is a thinking and constantly learning robot. They are successfully using her popularity and suggestive claim that robots are much better adapted to perform certain activities than people, such as working in space, and that the development of superintelligence would serve humanity, at international forums, television shows.
The purpose of the developers of Singularity NET is to combine various AI into one, develop the first universal global artificial intelligence, available to all, as well as a constantly improving system, where one learning individual contributes to the learning and development of all and which could not be rivalled by any companies, groups or structures.
Nevertheless, the scientist Stephen Hawking, essentially supporting fast AI development, has warned that the creation of a global artificial intelligence could mean the end of humanity.
The Pope Francis, known for his positive attitude towards technology and advancement, noted that “never has humanity had such power over itself, yet nothing ensures that it will be used wisely.”
Visiting Lithuania last year, Professor Klaus Schwab, founder of Davos Forum and author of the best-seller The Fourth Industrial Revolution, stated that the Fourth Industrial Revolution will change our lifestyle. “It will redefine the relationship between citizens and the state. It will provide us with great opportunities for enhancing the lives of individuals and societies. It will allow, if we get it right, a much more human-centred approach, fostering not only material satisfaction, but also genuine individual and societal well-being for all. The present focus of our economic and political discussions seems to completely miss the mark. We have now a historic window of opportunity to shape technological breakthroughs, such as artificial intelligence and gene editing, in the service and for the benefit of humankind. We have two options. We can either fully use the opportunities of the Fourth Industrial Revolution to help lift humanity to new heights, or we can allow ourselves to be controlled by the forces of technology and end up in a dystopian world in which citizens will have lost their autonomy.”
Thus, the question of who will be the winners of the intellectual revolution remains open.
Perhaps we will get our answer sooner than we hope to.

Sincerely Yours,
Zita Tallat-Kelpšaitė
Publisher of the magazine

 

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