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From the beauty to the beast: How should we wield this double-edged sword called AI?

First Voice

 , Updated 16:21, 20-Jan-2024

Editor’s note: AI has become a hot topic in recent years due to its rapid evolution and wide-ranging impact. Right now, it’s also being discussed at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting 2024 held from January 15 to 19 in Davos-Klosters, Switzerland. This video gives you an insight into discussions at the event and updates in the field of AI governance across the world.

Edited excerpts:

CGTN: This is from the opening concert at Davos 2024. The display you are seeing on the screen is created by a Turkish artist – Refik Anadol. These scenes, well, can't be found anywhere else in the world. They are created with a computer. Actually, to be more precise, they are created with artificial intelligence (AI).

As you've shown us over there, AI can do a lot of great things. What do you see are its (AI) biggest impacts on our day-to-day life?

Refik Anadol: I think AI is a technology that has intelligence in it. In our human history, we never have a technology that has this capacity before. And I think this created a very strong, new position for humanity, new perspective for us. What can we do with this technology? How can we use this mission intelligence is like one of the major questions we are asking right now. It is questioning how we perceive life, how we cure disease, how we find solution for problems, how art making changes, (and) how creativity changes. We can even question the reality. It is a profoundly powerful technology that changes every aspect of life.

CGTN: Yes, AI is everywhere. It can range from small things: Grammar check in your email, a quick reply in messaging apps, recommendations on your social media feeds, etc., to profound game changers like ChatGPT, TARS and CASE in the movie Interstellar, and of course, Skynet.

I'm just kidding (or am I!) All joking aside. But as we learn more about it, we find there are more questions about this technology than the answers we have. Let me show you one of those questions.

This is a website called deepfakesweb.com. You don't even need to go any further. Just look at the background. On the right is the original movie scene with Morgan Freeman’s character. On the left, Barack Obama's face has been AI-generated to replace Freeman. It looks totally natural.

Dan Purcell: You can literally just take an image from Instagram, upload it, in 10 seconds and a click of a button, you've essentially, you know, taken someone's clothes off.

CGTN: Well, we don't want that. AI poses as many opportunities as risks. It's causing worries and problems in areas from privacy to the general economy all the way up to the survival of mankind.

Saadia Zahidi: So I think we've got a mixed picture there. From the economists' perspective, there is the view that AI will add to productivity in the long term. It is going to be positive for many economies, for many businesses. But those gains are likely to be concentrated in high-income economies.

CGTN: In May, 2023, a group of top AI researchers, engineers and CEOs issued a 22-word statement warning the risks posed by AI. "Mitigating the risk of extinction from AI should be a global priority alongside other societal-scale risks such as pandemics and nuclear war."

Among the signatories were OpenAI CEO Sam Altman, Google DeepMind CEO Demis Hassabis, former U.S. Assistant Secretary of Defense Andy Weber, and, yes, Bill Gates.

The global community has been trying to pick up the pace in figuring out how to govern AI. In October, 2023, China implemented the Global AI Governance Initiative. In the same month, the United Nations created a 39-member advisory body to deal with international governance of AI. In November 2023, Chinese President Xi Jinping and U.S. President Joe Biden agreed to establish China-U.S. talks on AI.

Last December, the EU passed the AI Act.

Jelena Begovic: It's very important to put it on the global level, like we did with the nuclear energy. Now we come to the question of, are we going to regulate it country by country? Region by region? Or we can really sit around the table and pull some universal principles? I mean, it's very important that we include everyone. No one is left behind.

Josephine Teo: There will have to be different ways of demonstrating whether an AI is being implemented in a responsible way. And the question of "how do you implement tests," "how do you benchmark them," These kinds of things are still very nascent. No one has answers just yet.

CGTN: AI is a double-edged sword. It can be as beautiful as this. And it can be just as ugly. And just like all technologies, it depends on how we humans use it. And it is this "how" that we need to figure out quickly and together.

(If you want to contribute and have specific expertise, please contact us at opinions@cgtn.com. Follow @thouse_opinions on Twitter to discover the latest commentaries in the CGTN Opinion Section.)

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