Machine intelligence must go hand-in-hand with human wisdom, Alibaba Group founder Jack Ma said Thursday.
Speaking at the World Artificial Intelligence Conference, Ma said that humans should strive to better understand themselves and the Earth, especially in the face of a global crisis like the Covid-19 outbreak.
“This pandemic has shown us how little we know about ourselves and how little we know about the Earth. Because we don’t know ourselves, don’t know the world we are living in, don’t understand the Earth and don’t know how to cherish and preserve the Earth, we have created many troubles and disasters,” Ma said via video message. He added that, despite the resources, wealth, knowledge and technological prowess enjoyed by society today, human wisdom was still the key to addressing the world’s challenges and was needed to “enhance communication and cooperation” to find impactful and long-lasting solutions.
With the theme of “Intelligent World, Indivisible Community,” the three-day conference features presentations, keynote speeches and panel discussions with prominent global figures from the realm of science and technology, including Turing Award winners Yoshua Bengio and Andrew Yao, Director General of the United Nations Industrial Development Organization Li Yong and Tesla CEO Elon Musk.
In his speech during the opening ceremony, Ma said that while the technologies of the past improved our way of living, the technologies of today and tomorrow should help humankind survive better.
“During the pandemic, people have used internet technology to survive, not just for themselves, but also for others,” he said. “There are many cases: going to school, having a meeting, shopping, visiting a doctor – all of these activities rely on digital technology. To innovate in order to survive is the strongest and most irresistible force.”
He also pointed to an AI algorithm that Alibaba’s research and innovation institute DAMO Academy developed to help diagnose Covid-19. Informed by data from thousands of computed-tomography scans and trained by deep learning, the algorithm can accurately detect the virus in 20 seconds, vastly shortening the time it takes for doctors to review CT scans, confirm cases and move on to treatment and supportive measures.
Ma said that such innovations were indicative of the quickening pace of digitalization in the world.
“Technological transformation will come earlier and its speed will accelerate. We need to be ready,” he said.
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