The Techno-Optimists and the 'Luddite Fallacy'

Mar 28, 2019

Like the utopian and dystopian forecasts for artificial general intelligence (AGI), predictions of a jobs and inequality crisis are not without controversy. A large contingent of economists and techno-optimists believe that fears about technology-induced job losses are fundamentally unfounded.

Members of this camp dismiss dire predictions of unemployment as the product of a “Luddite fallacy.”

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

Folding Beijing: Science-Fiction Visions and AI Economics

Mar 26, 2019

When the clock strikes 6 a.m., the city devours itself. Densely packed buildings of concrete and steel bend at the hip and twist at their spines. External balconies and awnings are turned inward, creating smooth and perfectly sealed exteriors. Skyscrapers break down into component parts, shuffling and consolidating into Rubik’s Cubes of industrial proportions. Inside those blocks are the residents of Beijing’s Third Space, the economic underclass that toils during the night hours and sleeps during the day. As the cityscape folds in on itself, a patchwork of squares on the earth’s surface begin their 180-degree rotation, flipping over to tuck these consolidated structures underground.

When the other side of these squares turn skyward, they reveal a separate city. The first rays of dawn creep over the horizon as this new city emerges from its crouch. Tree-lined streets, vast public parks, and beautiful single-family homes begin to unfold, spreading outward until they have covered the surface entirely. The residents of First Space stir from their slumber, stretching their limbs and looking out on a world all their own.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

Reality Check on AI

Mar 21, 2019

Utopian and dystopian visions of the super-intelligent future inspire both awe and a sense of dread in audiences.

Those all-consuming emotions then blur the lines in our mind separating these fantastical futures from our current age of AI implementation. The result is widespread popular confusion over where we truly stand today, and where things are headed.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee

Utopia, Dystopia, and the Real AI Crisis

Mar 19, 2019

All of the AI products and services outlined in the previous chapter are within reach based on current technologies. Bringing them to market requires no major new breakthroughs in AI research, just the nuts-and-bolts work of everyday implementation: gathering data, tweaking formulas, iterating algorithms in experiments and different combinations, prototyping products, and experimenting with business models.

But the age of implementation has done more than make these practical products possible. It has also set ablaze the popular imagination when it comes to AI. It has fed a belief that we’re on the verge of achieving what some consider the Holy Grail of AI research, artificial general intelligence (AGI)—thinking machines with the ability to perform any intellectual task that a human can—and much more.

By Dr. Kai-Fu Lee