International Industrial Cooperation Organization
Jack Gao: Prepare for profound AI-driven transformations

On March 14, Dr. Jack Gao, CEO of Smart Cinema and former president of Microsoft China, was left amazed after watching the livestream of GPT-4's press conference. He was stunned by what the chatbot is able to do.

Jack Gao delivers a keynote speech on artificial intelligence during a summit forum before the 14th Chinese Nebula Awards gala in Guanghan, Sichuan province, May 13, 2023. [Photo courtesy of EV/SFM]

"I was so excited and couldn't calm down for a whole week. During that time, Baidu also released its own Ernie Bot, and Alibaba followed with Tongyi Qianwen. There are more AI bots to come, such as the one from Google," Gao told China.org.cn, adding that he later engaged in conversations with insiders from various industries to get a clear understanding of the bigger picture.

On May 13, he discussed this topic at China's top sci-fi event, the 14th Chinese Nebula Awards, where he also delivered a keynote speech and sought feedback from China's most prominent sci-fi writers, who have frequently envisioned the future and portrayed artificial intelligence (AI) in their novels.

"The era of AI has arrived. I have an unprecedented feeling knowing that it can pass the lawyers' exam with high scores and even possess a common sense that was previously exclusive to humans," Gao said. "When AI becomes another intelligent brain in our lives and has the potential to develop consciousness for the benefit of the entire human race, its intelligence will expand infinitely."

The profound changes will come quickly, according to his vision. AI could directly handle many aspects related to human life, from everything from translation to communication, medical diagnoses, lawsuits, and creative jobs. This could bring greater efficiency and upgrades to current industries, but it also raises concerns.

Some have already recognized the threats, like Hollywood scriptwriters who went on strike in early May due to concerns about AI "generative" text and image tools impacting their jobs and incomes. Tech giants have also laid off numerous employees after embracing AI technologies. Geoffrey Hinton, widely regarded as the "godfather" of AI, departed from Google and raised warnings about the potential dangers of AI chatbots, emphasizing their potential to surpass human intelligence in the near future. Hinton also cautioned against the potential misuse of AI by "bad actors" that could have harmful consequences for society.

"When I was a student 40 years ago, our wildest imaginations couldn't compare to what we have today. Technology has fundamentally transformed our lives," Gao said. The man has an awe-inspiring profile in both the tech and media industries, having served as a top executive at Autodesk Inc., Microsoft, News Corp., and Dalian Wanda Group. He has witnessed numerous significant technological advancements over the decades, from PC computers and the internet to big data, which have brought about great changes to the world.

When Google's AlphaGo AI defeated the world's number one Go player, Ke Jie, people began to recognize the power of AI, although they initially thought its impact was limited to the realm of Go. "But what if there's an 'AlphaGo' in every industry?" Gao mused. "What can humans do, and how can they prevail? Imagine a scenario where you have your own 'AlphaGo' while others do not. This is the reality we are facing, and we must take it seriously."

He believes that the digital gap between machines and humans has been bridged so that AI bots can interact with humans through chat interfaces without the need for programmers to write code. He also believes that when large language models reach a sufficient scale, new chemical sparks will ignite, leading to new miracles of some kind. "You have to understand that language is the foundational layer and operating system of human civilization and ecology."

"Based on my experience using and learning from AI bots, I have also noticed an important factor: the quality of answers from chatbots depends on how you ask them. Our way of thinking will shift towards seeking answers because there are countless valuable answers in the world waiting for good questions," he said. He added that people should prepare themselves with optimism to understand, utilize, explore, and harness AI, making it a beneficial and integral part of their lives.

Gao's speech caused a stir at the sci-fi convention. After he finished, many sci-fi writers, including eminent figures like Han Song and He Xi, approached him to discuss further. "They told me that after listening to my speech, they had a more personal understanding of how AI will truly impact our lives and work. The technology is already here, and we have no choice but to actively explore and embrace it, adapting to the changes."

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