Our Privacy Statement & Cookie Policy

By continuing to browse our site you agree to our use of cookies, revised Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can change your cookie settings through your browser.

I agree

Tech Talk: What lies ahead as we embrace AI?

Zhao Chenchen, Du Junzhi, Yu Rong


Editor's note: Generative AI tools like ChatGPT, Midjourney and Sora have been fueling our daily discussions recently as a result of their jaw-dropping capabilities. However, this excitement also comes with anxiety: What exactly can we expect from AI? Are fears of human labor being replaced by AI warranted? Can we find ways to coexist? In this special series of Tech Talk, we invite scholars and industry experts to explore these questions and see if we can find common ground. This episode focuses on future trends of AI development and global cooperation in AI governance.

While many are excited about the advances in artificial intelligence (AI) technologies, others strike a note of caution. Experts warn of security and ethics risks while using AI tools, and that misinformation and unlawful incidents have already occurred as a result of people taking advantage of the fast-developing technology.

CGTN reporter Zhao Chenchen recently sat down with Zeng Yi, a member of the United Nations AI Advisory Body and also a professor at the Institute of Automation of the Chinese Academy of Sciences, to discuss the current problems and future trends of AI, as well as potential global cooperation in AI governance.

Zeng's areas of interest revolve around brain-inspired AI, AI safety, ethics and governance. Having served in several influential roles in the field of AI, he was recognized as one of the 100 most influential people in AI in 2023 by Time magazine.

So what are the pressing issues that need to be addressed at the current stage of AI development? Zeng said generative AI fundamentally challenges people's social trust that they can believe what they see. He added that, in addition to national and global regulation policies, AI technologies should be used to better govern AI.

"If you don't really have an ethical and safety framework for artificial intelligence, when you (let AI tools) learn over these human data, we don't know what kind of mistakes they're making," Zeng said.

The professor is positive that much mundane work currently done by humans can be replaced by AI at some point, but he thinks we cannot jump to the conclusion that generative AI can replace or better human labor just by seeing the recent progress in generative AI.

While discussing the future trends of AI development, the professor said mechanisms-driven AI, including brain-inspired AI and nature-inspired AI, explores another route which builds AI modals with inspiration from nature by finding out how the human brain works and how nature evolves. He said it functions differently to generative AI, which heavily relies on human data.

In the interview, Zeng said there are three broad roles that AI could play in human society: AI as a tool, a partner (or a quasi-member) and an enemy.

"In different cultures, people have different perceptions of the role of AI," said Zeng, adding that AI will still be regarded as a tool to help solve problems in the short term, but could become a quasi-member of society in the long run.

For example, ethical guidelines released by The Japanese Society for Artificial Intelligence in 2017 said that AI must abide by the ethical rules written for humans in order to become a member or a quasi-member of society.

As various regional networks have rolled out their laws and principles on AI, such as the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and Development's AI Principles and the European Union's AI Act, Zeng underscored the importance of global cooperation in AI governance, especially among partners who hold different opinions.

"You have to talk to each other because you don't know in which way the other side is solving the safety and ethics problems," he said. "If their AIs are not really safe enough, they will create problems for you."

He also called for a global coordination mechanism to enable current regional networks to contribute to the future design of AI in society and the fair development of AI technologies across different countries.

"We should raise the global awareness and literacy of AI," added Zeng, noting that he believes giant companies, academia, governments and media have a responsibility to highlight the proper use of AI.

Reporter: Zhao Chenchen, Du Junzhi

Video editor: Yu Rong, Xu Chenlu

Videographer: Zhao Wenting

Cover Image: Zhu Shangfan

Search Trends