Baidu chief scientist, Coursera co-founder, and Stanford adjunct professor Andrew Ng spoke recently about how artificial intelligence is transforming industry after industry…
Chief scientist at Baidu, Coursera co-founder, and Stanford adjunct professor Ng spoke at the Stanford MSx Future Forum. The Future Forum is a discussion series that explores the trends that are changing the future. During his talk, Professor Ng discussed how artificial intelligence (AI) is transforming industry after industry.
“We’re making this analogy that AI is the new electricity,” Ng said. “Electricity transformed industries: agriculture, transportation, communication, manufacturing. I think we are now in that phase where AI technology has advanced to the point where we see a clear path for it to transform multiple industries.” Specifically, Ng sees AI being particularly influential in entertainment, retail, and logistics.
“Just as electricity transformed industry after industry 100 years ago, I think AI will do the same,” Ng claims.
|The Virtuous Cycle of AI|
Ng explains how machine learning (ML) can now make use of powerful enough computers and very large data sets to create new opportunities. One of these opportunities is actually when AI opportunities feed into themselves the virtuous circle of artificial intelligence. Ng describes how products that are the best rise to grow in larger and larger user bases, which feed more and more data into the machine learning system, helping to make it better and better. We see this with companies like Google, Baidu and Amazon, where the assistant software keeps seeming to get better at tasks like face recognition and speech recognition.
“Just as electricity transformed industry after industry 100 years ago, I think AI will do the same.”
“This becomes a positive feedback loop,” explains Ng. “That often means that the biggest and most successful products, often has the most users, having the most users usually means you get the most data, and with modern ML, having the most data sometimes, usually means you can do the best AI.”
In another interesting portion of Ng’s talk, he outlines a software development process for dealing with artificial intelligence projects. According to Ng, product managers need to provide examples of human behaviour to the development team so that machine learning can be taught desired outcomes.
For Ng, the biggest opportunities for AI are in financial technology (FinTech), speech recognition, computer vision (which Ng says will take off a bit later than the others), facial recognition and he is personally very bullish on the the use of AI in healthcare. “If you are planning for a 40 year career in radiology, I would say that is not a good plan,” he quips.
For Ng, the biggest issue AI will cause is job displacement. Otherwise known as technological unemployment, he shares the concern of many others that automation and AI will cause more societal changes due to the jobs it takes over rather than any other factor. “I think we should own up to it,” admits Ng. His solutions include basic income, but paired with a new type of education.