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Economic Watch: Experts at Boao forum express optimism about AI but urge oversight

Boao Forum

Guest speakers of a panel discussion on artificial intelligence (AI) at the Boao Forum for Asia Annual Conference 2024 expressed optimism on the development prospects of AI while also urging efforts to beef up industry oversight.

The performance of the large language models, such as GPT-4, is extremely impressive, said Stuart Russell, a professor of electrical engineering and computer sciences at the University of California at Berkeley.

« It gives us a taste of what it would be like to live in a world where we could access intelligence on tap in the same way that we access electricity anytime you need, » added Russell, who is also co-author of « Artificial Intelligence: A Modern Approach, » which is considered the standard text in the field of AI.

According to the veteran AI researcher, there are still very significant gaps in this technology.

Since ChatGPT took the world by storm in late 2022, tech giants and startups worldwide have been rushing to join the AI race by launching similar AI chatbots as well as industrial applications based on large language models.

The AI fever has kindled high hopes that this technology will have the potential to transform people’s lives and work through the content they generate, known as AI-generated content (AIGC). It also has fanned fear that AI could pose a threat to human beings in the future.

According to Zhang Yaqin, dean of the Institute for AI Industry Research at Tsinghua University, AI can generate not only texts, images and videos, but also a plethora of other content. « There is good news about change, but there are also some concerns about the risks that we have right now. »

Expressing optimism about AI, Zhang said, « I think that there are two kinds of human wisdom. One wisdom is the wisdom of inventing new technologies, and the other is the wisdom of guiding technology toward wisdom. »

He, however, stressed that governance should be in place while the industry is developing.

Spawning a large number of applications for industries and scientific research, the AI boom is driving the development of China’s digital economy and reshaping the economic landscape.

Liu Cong, vice president of China’s AI and intelligent speech giant iFLYTEK, said following the launch of its large language model, the company has launched a number of applications for specific industries, including the education and medical fields.

« The AI plus is very likely to offer us a great opportunity to develop new quality productive forces, » Liu said, adding that its open innovation platform has attracted 370,000 developers for large models.

Speaking at the panel discussion, Frank Meng, Qualcomm China chairman, called for global and industry cooperation in terms of AI state governance, international collaboration, and standard setting that would allow universal use.

Russell called for healthy competition in the AI race. « This idea that it’s a zero-sum game and one team is gonna win and the other team is gonna lose. This is a huge mistake. »

Xinhua

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