Building our intelligent future

With each generation, technological change seems to be happening more rapidly and the pace of technology-driven social, cultural and economic shifts shows no sign of slowing down.

Young people entering the workplace today have seen the internet grow from a nascent technological promise to the infrastructure that holds much of the modern world together. Their parents remember a time when personal computing was merely a dream. Their children will inherit a world driven by a new generation of thinking machines, computers that potentially match and even outpace the smartest humans and which are connected to billions upon billions of sensors, delivering an almost unfathomable stream of data.

We must assume that this sea change is coming – the path of innovation will march on, driven by a competitive global economy and an innate human desire to create and improve. As technologists, however, we must take responsibility and ensure that we’re creating the best possible version of this future – one in which artificial intelligence works for us, making our lives more prosperous, more fulfilling and more free.

At Huawei, we have chosen to be part of this movement and help ensure that we’re guiding the next generation of technological change down a path that will better the human condition. We have already had the privilege of connecting millions across the globe and these connections form the backbone of the world of tomorrow. Part of our ethos has always been to deliver technology with humanity at its core – devices that are not only efficient, but pleasant to use and designed to enhance the user’s life. From beautiful hardware aesthetics, to intuitive UI design, to partnerships with leading lifestyle brands, Huawei has always put a premium on delivering the best experience to our users.

Future is the Connected World

This type of expertise becomes so much more important once we start approaching an AI-driven world. When machines are expected to be as intelligent as a human being, they should be as approachable as one as well. We spend a lot of time talking about the connected world and the era of “big data” – and it’s truly impressive – each day we create 2.5 quintillion bytes of data. But that data is only worthwhile if it can be parsed and translated into something that human beings can understand and learn from.

So much of the pop-culture vision of AI is characterised by years of Hollywood horror stories – from 2001, to The Terminator, to The Matrix, we know all too well the stories of AIs gone rogue and the supposed danger they pose to human beings. Now, these dystopic visions are more than likely overblown – but, that doesn’t mean that creating ethical AI is not important. As we build towards this intelligent future, we need to ensure that we’re instilling the best of human values in the thinking machines we create – a regard for life and wellbeing, an appreciation for culture and beauty, an understanding that long-term outcomes can trump short-term gains. An AI that only knows ruthless efficiency will be, by definition, ruthless. As technologists who will help build this likely inevitable world of thinking machines, we must serve as a guiding hand to ensure they reflect the best values of their creators and not the worst.

At Huawei and throughout the technology industry, we have the great privilege of existing in a revolutionary moment for the human species. Never before have we been so connected, so aware of the world around us and so primed to take a massive leap into a new era of human consciousness. In just a few short decades we've watched as computers moved from simple, static calculating machines to an interconnected digital nervous system that touches nearly every aspect of our lives.

The pace of change is ever accelerating and our children and their children will inhabit a world that’s potentially unrecognisable to those of us helping build it. We have a chance – and a responsibility – to ensure that future is the best it can be for humankind.

Kevin Ho, President of Huawei's Handset Business