Presenter: Nicolas Economou, Chief Executive, H5 Moderator: Ana C. Rold, Publisher, Diplomatic Courier As the Fourth Industrial Revolution continues to see technology advance at unprecedented rates, it can be argued that it is artificial intelligence that is moving at the fastest pace—and perhaps with the most promise. Indeed, while artificial intelligence seems like a technology of the distant future, it is in fact already disrupting every facet of life, from law to warfare to the very concept of what it means to be human. At the recent IMF/World Bank Spring Meetings—specifically, the IMF’s New Economy Forum—Nicolas Economou, Chairman and Chief Executive of H5, argued that due to the rapid transformations artificial intelligence is beginning to create, it is absolutely critical that we begin discussing the governance of AI and the framework by which societies should delegate decisions to machines in an effort to mitigate the impact of risks as we move forward—lest we begin to see the beginnings of a dystopian-like future. Moderated by Diplomatic Courier’s own Ana C. Rold, here are the key takeaways. There is a plethora of definitions of artificial intelligence. Artificial intelligence today is broadly defined as big data-driven, massively computerized, machine learning-centric algorithmic systems. However, such definitions fail to account for unexpected sources of innovation and also remain inaccessible to the ordinary citizen. Therefore, it may be preferable to define artificial intelligence in simpler terms as the science and engineering of intelligent systems. Despite these working definitions, however, it is most likely futile that we’ll come to an all-agreed definition of AI anytime soon. After all, we still don’t have a settled definition of human intelligence after 3,000 years of scientific and philosophical debates. “Artificial intelligence is many things to many people—but artificial intelligence is not artificial humanity.” – Nicolas Economou The more important question is what artificial intelligence is NOT. Rather than focusing on the complexity of what AI is, it may be more useful to keep in mind what it is not. AI does not have empathy—it cannot mourn a deceased family member, for example. AI cannot feel nostalgia about its childhood, dream about its future, or feel any of the joys and sorrows that are so central to the human experience. Therefore, it is important to remember that while artificial intelligence may be many things, it is not artificial humanity—a crucial aspect to take into consideration when thinking about how to govern AI. There are different types of artificial intelligence. While the AI of today can be extremely well suited to certain discrete tasks—such as playing chess—modern AI’s inability to intuitively solve a range of versatile problems makes it unlikely that artificial intelligence will reach a level of cognition similar to human intelligence anytime soon. Artificial general intelligence (AGI) will most likely not be realized in the foreseeable future, but more narrow forms of AI will continue to evolve at a rapid pace, with progressively less human supervision. The Fourth Industrial Revolution is different in many ways from past industrial revolutions. While the Fourth Industrial Revolution is similar to past revolutions in its system-wide impact and universal disruption of power, there are many new challenges we must also face.
- There is a difference in magnitude and velocity. During the First Industrial Revolution, there were approximately one billion people alive; in the 1970’s, that number increased to around three billion. Today there are seven billion people worldwide, with artificial intelligence set to affect them all in immense ways. More importantly, the speed at which this transformation is happening is unprecedented, with McKinsey predicting that by 2030, 30% of the workforce in the developed world will need to adjust to new or different types of work due to the Fourth Industrial Revolution.
- The tolerance for violence is different. During the First Industrial Revolution, the distress and disruption caused by dramatic changes in the manufacturing process brought about a great deal of suffering—most of which society was able to tolerate. Today, societies’ tolerance for violence is far lower, which raises considerable public policy and public order questions in how citizens may respond to radical change.
The views presented in this article are the author’s own and do not necessarily represent the views of any other organization.