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Fujitsu CTO: AI is inevitable, but needs to be nurtured

Artificial Intelligence (AI) is undoubtedly one of the most talked-about topics in technology at the moment. Organisations in all manner of industries are taking an interest in it and even the UK government is getting in on the act.

“AI is inevitable,” said Fujitsu’s Chief Technology Officer Dr. Joseph Reger at Fujitsu Forum in Munich last week, and some of the figures being thrown around make it hard to argue with this statement. For example, Dr. Reger cited an Accenture study which suggested that “AI could double annual economic growth rates in 2035” as well as increasing labour productivity by “up to 40 per cent.”

Dr. Reger explained: “There are a number of arguments why [AI] is going to be totally attractive. Look at the technology market and you will see that large tech companies have enough money to invest and the technology is providing amazing results these days. AI projects have immediate applications in business.”

In terms of the development spectrum, we are currently at the “artificial narrow intelligence” stage, where “the systems that we produce are as smart as human experts in a very particular field.”

“The next level is artificial general intelligence. We will have that when the systems are as smart as humans in most fields, but not all of them. And the third level is dubbed artificial super intelligence, in which the systems might become smarter than any human in any field.”

This third level is the source of many people’s concerns around AI technology, as “when systems are smarter than humans in any field, that includes the design of next generation AI systems. The concern is that the preferences of such a system might not coincide with our human preferences.” Here, we get into sci-fi territory, where machines effectively outgrow humans and become the superior ‘being.’

So, how do we stop this from happening? Dr. Reger’s suggesting is to nurture the development of AI as a parent would a child, teaching it “moral frameworks, behavioural patterns and ethical standards” in an effort to align it to our principles. “There is no guarantee that any child will live like that but in general it seems to work,” he said. “This is the responsible upbringing of children, so I argue that artificial intelligence is a question of evolution and we should treat it like one of our creations, one of our children. Teach it moral frameworks and ethics and raise it to be a responsible adult.”

This may all sound a bit far-fetched but, with the pace of technology innovation constantly accelerating, it isn’t as far off as you might think. AI could spawn unparalleled benefits or machine overlords, all we can do is raise it right.

Image source: Shutterstock/PHOTOCREO Michal Bednarek