I couldn’t resist a wry smile at the doomsday predictions of a future AI jobs apocalypse from the Bank of England’s Chief Economist yesterday after listening to senior Chinese government officials and university professors wax lyrical about the benefits of the future AI society at our China Children’s Computer Contest.
No doubt the objective of the Chief Economist was to issue a much-needed wake-up call for Britain to get serious about AI with his warning of impending disaster. The problem is, however, that these days we hear of so many “existential threats” to life and liberty in the universe as we know it from politicians, media, and self-proclaimed experts that we immediately tune them out and get on with our lives while little is done to solve the alleged issue. Emotional appeals for action do not good policy make.
The China government’s approach towards AI is a lot more positive and constructive: namely to embrace the potential of the technology and work to make sure that everyone from students to business executives and officials is equipped to make the most of it through extensive investments in education, R&D, and infrastructure. Since the AI wave is inevitable, best not to waste precious time and resources attempting to resist it. Better to make sure that the nation is ready to ride it.
The China Children’s Computer Contest closed on a similarly positive note with the announcement of the establishment of an AI Education Research Institute comprised of leading technology and pedagogical experts in China. As part of this initiative, we have also sponsored the establishment of model AI labs in twenty schools throughout the country with the final goal of setting up one hundred.
The future of AI will depend on whether we are smart enough to identify and harness its potential benefits for the good of society. It’s great to have the opportunity to play a small part in helping to make this happen through this initiative.