How Artificial Intelligence Is Edging Its Way Into Our Lives

In Phoenix, cars are self-navigating the streets. In many homes, people are barking commands at tiny machines, with the machines responding. On our smartphones, apps can now recognize faces in photos and translate from one language to another.


Artificial intelligence is here ― and it’s bringing new possibilities, while also raising questions. Do these gadgets and services really behave as advertised? How will they evolve in the years ahead? How quickly will they overhaul the way we live and change the way we do business?


The Times is exploring these matters this week at our annual New Work Summit, featuring technology executives, A.I. researchers, investors and others. Here are some of the key moments coming out of the conference, plus a rundown of some of our recent A.I. stories. ― Cade Metz

时报正在本周一年一度的新工作峰会(New Work Summit)上探索这些问题。参加峰会的有科技公司高管、人工智能研究人员和投资者等。下面是这次会议的一些关键时刻,以及我们最近的一些人工智能报道的简要介绍。――凯德・梅茨(Cade Metz)报道

Should A.I. be more ‘human’?


Fei-Fei Li, a chief scientist at Google and a Stanford professor, has called on technologists to take a more “human centered” approach to the creation of artificial intelligence. On Tuesday at the New Work Summit, Ms. Li said that researchers must work to ensure that A.I. embodied human qualities and that it would ultimately operate alongside humans, not replace them.


“I often tell my students not to be misled by the name ‘artificial intelligence’ ― there is nothing artificial about it,” she said. “A.I. is made by humans, intended to behave by humans and, ultimately, to impact humans lives and human society.”


At Stanford, Ms. Li was instrumental in the recent rise of “computer vision” systems that can recognize people and objects entirely on their own. At Google, she is working to package and sell these and other systems as cloud computing services, delivering the latest A.I. technology to a wide range of businesses.


But she said that as Google and other internet giants pushed these techniques forward, academia and the government must help ensure that A.I. evolved into something that enhanced our humanity, created as many jobs as it replaced and operated in safe and predictable ways.


In particular, Ms. Li said, academic institutions can help ensure that computer scientists work alongside social scientists in building this new breed of technology.


“A.I. has outgrown its origin in computer science,” she said.


Ultimately, said Ms. Li, who was born in China, A.I. reflects the people who build it more than other technologies do. For that reason and others, she said, A.I. researchers must work in a way that spans not only many industries but many cultures as well.


“I really believe there are no borders for science,” she said. ― Cade Metz


Why American tech companies struggle in China


Tuesday’s first speaker at the New Work Summit was Kai-Fu Lee, who used to lead Google in China and knows a thing or two about American tech giants in China. His prognosis about whether companies like Facebook will ever be able to crack the world’s largest internet market?


“The American products are simply uncompetitive in the China market,” said Mr. Lee, who is now chief executive of Sinovation Ventures, a venture capital firm focused on Chinese technology. Even if internet titans from the United States could operate in China, he said, the local competition means they would have a hard time thriving.


“Messenger is a much worse product than WeChat,” he said, referring to Facebook’s messaging app and Tencent’s ubiquitous app for chatting, social networking, making payments and other tasks.


“Amazon in China is substantially worse than Taobao, JD and Tmall,” he said, referring to three leading Chinese e-commerce sites. And, he said, “Apple Pay is much narrower and much harder to use than WeChat or Alipay.”

“亚马逊中国远远比不上淘宝、京东、天猫,”他说的是中国三大电子商务网站。并且,他还说,“Apple Pay比微信支付或者支付宝的局限大得多,也很不好用。”

Mr. Lee sees other issues that augur against a big Facebook or Google renaissance in China. Multinational companies tend not to hire local managers to lead their China operations. “They’re not concerned about winning in the local market,” he said.


Also, young Chinese these days would rather work for national champions like Alibaba or Tencent. Pitted against Chinese start-ups and big companies, where the hours tend to be long and the work culture cutthroat, the leading lights of American tech would get “get eaten for lunch.” ― Raymond Zhong


Trump administration silent on A.I.


Last year, the Chinese government unveiled a plan to become the world leader in artificial intelligence by 2030, vowing to create a domestic industry worth $150 billion. This manifesto read like a challenge to the United States, and in many ways it echoed policies laid down by the Obama administration in 2016.


But as China pushes ahead in this area, many experts are concerned that the Trump administration is not doing enough to keep the United States ahead in the future. Although the big United States internet giants are leading the A.I. race, these experts believe the country as a whole could fall behind if does not do more to nurture research inside universities and government labs. ― Cade Metz



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