AI enabled machines are now penetrating almost every aspect of life, transforming work processes and the way we live. But while there's consensus on the benefits of AI, technology is growing so rapidly that it's outpacing our own ability to understand it. AI is changing the world as we know it. So should business and society embrace AI in all its glory or be afraid? How do we harness the power of AI as we are moving towards the future?
Dr. Sutapa Amornvivat, CEO of SCB Abacus, the pioneer in harnessing AI technology to create business value, recently expressed her views on the advent of AI as one and only Thai executive at Bloomberg's Sooner Than You Think Tech Summit, a landmark international event that brings together some of the world's most innovative minds. She joined a panel discussion with Soo Boon Koh, Founder and Managing Partner, iGlobe Partners; and Steve Leonard, Founding CEO, SGInnovate, where they exchanged opinion in a debate on AI on the topic: Great Leap Forward or Existential Threat.
The discussion began with a controversial question: Is it possible for the fully developed AI machines to completely replace the human resources? Dr. Sutapa gave a skeptical reply. "The current development of AI far from truly replicating human brain, but it's programed with some personality that allow it to interact naturally with humans. So far, AIhas improved and will exponentially improve human productivity. What we should be aware of, however, is technologies that weaken human key success, like collaborating among each other, connecting to other humans in an emotional level, or even simple tasks like memorizing directions. AI as we know it now is used to help improve human productivity, create new jobs and allocation of human resources to these jobs with ease and in no time."
AI creates a notion that robots will replace humans for many jobs. What is the right movement to handle this frightful scenario? Dr. Sutapa elaborated that "AI enabled machines not only replace traditional jobs, but also complicated jobs like information processing. The point is how we manage the allocation of human resources to new jobs. Some people might see the potential treat of AI in increasing technology equality by widening the gap between those whose own it and those who don't. One thing that we can do on a larger scale is promoting digital literacy among people, equipping them with required skills like searching information online, evaluating and scrutinizing the accuracy of the information they received, understanding data security etc. This is key to help bridge the digital divide."
As AI is changing the world as we know it, who should be responsible for regulating the development of AI? "If you look at the trajectory of every technology that has ever come out of human history, it always starts with innovation that no one knows where it goes, before it moves into mass adoption, then comes social responsibility and regulations follow. For example, the invention of car in 1880s. It took up to 20 years before mass production of automobile happened. And 60 years later, safety belt law was passed. AI is following the same path, though faster. Now is the first moment in history that adoption of AI affects nearly all walks of life. Direction of AI going forward will come from social pressure for more responsible adoption. The last point is that it depends on regulators' choice between control and collaboration. If they choose control, there is a high chance that they achieve none. If they go for collaboration, it is possible to get both."
The final question, if there's one skill that we should have to survive and have a job in the future, and will never be replaced by AI, what should it be? "The ability of abstract thought. This is the most important thing and probably the most distinctive trait we have as human race," Dr. Sutapa simply replied.