Chinese Business Leaders on the Future of Technology at Boao Forum for Asia
The unprecedented rapid development of science and technology is accelerating the transformation of labor production and human life. Today, artificial intelligence is no longer a distant concept, but a gradually penetrating element into everyday life. As 5G networks are about to enter the phase of practical application, the interconnection of all things has brought more imagination.
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In the 2018 Boao Forum for Asia (BFA), artificial intelligence, 5G, smart driving and other frontier technologies have become the focus of the topics.
The development of new technologies has brought more opportunities and challenges. Healthcare, education, finance and other industries will usher in greater innovation; smart driving, new retail and other new industry formats are also gradually being fostered. At the same time, science and technological progress is a double-edged sword, urging people to be alert to the risks.
What changes will science and technology bring? Where will it lead us and how should humans deal with it? The following are answers to these questions from the BFA guests.
5G and AI are reshaping our lives
From 2G, 3G to 4G, and now to today’s much-talked-about 5G, the rapid improvement of communication networks is constantly refreshing people’s online experiences. As the leader of the smartphone industry, Apple has accelerated the arrival of the mobile internet through the iPhone series. Isabel Ge Mahe, Apple’s vice president and managing director of Greater China, believes the upcoming 5G era may change the dominance of the smartphones today.
According to Isabel Ge Mahe, the throughput of big data, short time delay and hardware interconnection of 5G network will turn augmented reality and virtual reality into reality. It will also realize remote control over medical devices, as well as real-time feedback of data, making hardware products more intelligent and more interoperable. All of this will make wearable devices more and more popular.
Shen Wei who is the founder, President and CEO of Vivo Communication Technology also expressed his opinion on 5G technology. He believes that the 5G research and development at Vivo is still focused its mobile applications at present. Shen Wei also said that artificial intelligene (AI) will play a very important role in the future development of mobile phones. In the upcoming 5G era, mobile phones will act more like personal assistant, handling the users’ relationships with the virtual and the real world.
Shen Wei is not the only guest to mention artificial intelligence at the forum. In fact, artificial intelligence is the mostly talked about new technology at the BFA this year. According to Baidu‘s president Zhang Yaqin, the prerequisite of developing artificial intelligence is to ensure that it can serve humans and the society.
Most of the guests very much agreed on the tremendous impact artificial intelligence will have on our society.
Zhang Yaqin believes that the rapid development of artificial intelligence has transformed and will continue to transform search engines and the internet industry. Machine learning and artificial intelligence will soon be applied to finance, health care, education and other industries. Intelligent driving and new retail have attracted much attention, and artificial intelligence will certainly drive the development of both industries, but with some time.
According to Shen Hui, founder of Weltmeister Motors, autonomous driving will be safer than human driving, the problem now is that we do not have enough data. When the amount of data reaches a certain level, machine driving will be safer than human driving.
Rugged path ahead: dilemmas in the application and regulation of technology
Industries such as self-driving, health care and smart communications that are booming around advanced technologies such as AI, big data, quantum computing, 5G networks and more, show us a vision of a smarter, safer and fairer world. In the present, this unknown path to has also led to pragmatic concerns: how to apply the technologies, how to deal with the existing supervision and how to deal with its impact.
The smart manufacturing industry closely related to the traditional manufacturing pays special attention to the application of technology. The Chairman of Xiaopeng Motors, a Chinese electric vehicle startup, said that future transportation-related entrepreneurial activities in the cars, railways and even outer space areas, from both a technology and a policy standpoint, will develop based on the increase of people’s travel radius.
He said that frankly, China’s smart car market is still limited in the development of the underlying technology, and the current applications and manufacturing in China rarely start from the bottom. He believes that quality building is the basis, and what young people really expect from smart cars stems from both the demand level and the underlying technology level. This is what is left to be solved in the future.
After the first step of industrial application is solved, how to deal with the existing supervision becomes the second threshold to overcome. The collision between new technology and existing order determines how soon we will embrace “life in the future”.
In the sub-forum on the future of communications, Apple and Huawei was compared and discussed. When asked about the potential difficulties in obtaining 5G-related licences in China, Isabel Ge Mahe said that iPhone is a global product, since it is made in China with parts from Japan, South Korea, etc. “Good technology benefits the world, not just the Chinese and American markets.”
Isabel Ge Mahe believes that 5G networks can be seen as mini wifi. At present, it is still very difficult to use 5G networks in mobile communication and must rely on 4G technology.
New Challenges: the Impact of Technology
When both “application” and “supervision” are solved, people will face another “side effect” of technologies while embracing “life in the future” – the replacement of humans with its most immediate threat in job replacements.
In a session on future production, Allan Gabor, a member of the Merck Performance Materials Global Leadership Committee, released a set of data by McKinsey. The data shows that by 2030, 4 to 8 million people will lose their jobs. It should be acknowledged that productivity is the most important thing in the world, whether it’s in pharmaceutical, material or other industries. It requires better education to be provided to the workers so that they can master all these technologies.
Dong Mingzhu from Gree Electric Appliances does not fear that artificial intelligence will pose a threat to humans. She believes that in the transformation from work done by man to by machine, human beings will also go through changes and progress. Gree Electric Appliances aims to train employees to become smart enough to control the machines, to elevate production efficiency and product precision so as to better meet the demand of the market. “So the arrival of this era does not mean that we should panic. Instead we should be proud.”
An Israeli investor Yossi Vardi expressed an overall optimistic and supportive attitude regarding the same issue, but he warned that as technology continues to advance, societies have become polarized and marginalized. In the process of developing science and technology, we need to make technology more inclusive, which means getting everyone involved, and democratize innovation.
“I think there are two sides to this new round of technological development, and we need to deepen our understanding about the consciousness and values of humans and our value systems. I want you to find out if there are potential problems and risks in applying the new technologies, and every developer of technology should be responsible for them.”