Two Takeaways from ReCode Media Podcast Interview with Kai-Fu Lee



Recode Media published a podcast interview with Kai-Fu Lee today. Kara Swisher asked the questions. My two big takeaways are as follows:

  1. Further reasons why AI developers here in the States need to think about methods other than Deep Learning to deliver AI:

Mr. Lee extolled the value of Deep Learning. He went on at some length explaining why China, in particular, is well positioned to push further forward with this method:

Chinese people are substantially less sensitive about the need for data collection. So China presents a much richer opportunity than the US for AI development built on Deep Learning. There will be a lot more data collection in China and, therefore, Deep Learning algorithms will have the plentiful supply of data they need to do their work.

But it makes a lot of sense for the people in the US/the Americas/Europe to be very fussy about just how much of their personal data is collected. Given the reality of this pervasive concern about personal data collection, a method of delivering AI without the need for massive amounts of personal data should be found.

2. Mr. Lee spoke in what can only be called a measured, matter-of-fact tone about an enormous number of jobs he envisions disappearing very soon as AI solutions are implemented. Ms. Swisher, for her part, also sounded “cool, calm, and collected” on the topic.

But wholesale elimination of jobs for humans will, undoubtedly, precipitate enormous social unrest. The topic, therefore, should not be treated as a trivial matter.

Unfortunately the question of whether it would make sense to hold off on the implementation of AI solutions unless/until change management has been handled and society is truly ready to embrace the elimination of these jobs, was not raised.

Other “AI prophets” (for example, Ray Kurzweil in his “The Singularity is Near”) share Mr. Lee’s calm demeanor on this topic. This complacency should give cause for concern.

I finished listening to the interview wondering if the Chinese government has reached a conclusion their population is ready to give up their jobs sometime soon. I hope this isn’t the case, but given Mr. Lee’s presentation, the skeptic in me is waving a caution flag.

Source: Deep Learning on Medium