The future of AI

Promises and pitfalls of the technical evolution that will shape our century

By Hélène Ceysson

Last week’s Web Summit showed the importance of AI in the future of tech with more than 30 talks about its impact on all industries and on consumers life. We started with a talk with Greg Brockman (Open AI – non-profit AI research organisation), Nagraj Kashyapp (M12 – Venture capital work for Microsoft) and Emily Orton (Darktrace – Cybersecurity company), discussing if AI is more hype than reality and if it will improve our quality of life or be under-delivering.

For Nagraj Kashyapp, AI machine learning is an overused term which contributes to the hype. The tech is currently being used loosely and not to its full capacity so what we see at the moment is only the tip of the iceberg in terms of AI’s capacities and impact on our societies.

Young Sohn, Samsung’s CEO, closed the first day of the Summit with his talk, “A better World with AI”. He sees AI as the most important evolution in technology in the last decades. He predicted that the next AI inventions will be even more important than the current ones. As all the small issues AI could resolve (the low hanging fruit) are now gone, AI will now go for the harder issues, for example genomics and this is where the technology will really revolutionise our world. As far as his company is concerned, every object embedded with AI is now becoming a data appliance more than anything else, whether it’s a car or a washing machine. For him, if data is the oil, AI is the engine. Gathering and harnessing data to be processed by AI is more than ever today’s gold rush.

An analysis shared by Yves Bernaert, Senior managing director at Accenture who insisted on the fact that AI will only function properly if the data is correct and free of human biases. In his session about the top 5 trends that will shape our industries in the future, he also talked about an exciting and positive application of AI to diagnose diseases faster than currently possible.

But one of the most eagerly expected talks showed how the development of AI could be both incredibly exciting and scary with Hanson Robotic’s creatures Sophia and Han, who display human like emotions and show they have a mind of their own.

The robots who use a blockchain based AI platform to develop their mind and human-robot interactions were on stage for a talk ominously called “when” will robots rule the world? rather than “if”.

Christopher Wylie, Cambridge Analytica whistleblower was the strongest voice warning against the dangers of AI at this year’s Web Summit, asking citizens and governments to think about what will happen when our houses will be connected to our cars, our fridges, our computers and to the street? What will happen when AI will take most decisions for us? Will they dictate our decisions and which way societies are going? Will giants like Facebook and Google become all seeing, all knowing?

As the web’s inventor Sir Tim Berners-Lee launched his contract for the web on the opening night of the Summit, to ensure users get full control of their data and avoid a dystopian future where we are controlled by AI, there is one thing everybody agrees on: for better or worse, the future belongs to AI.

Interested in knowing more about the Web Summit?

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