AI, fusion or fission?
Updated 14:38, 29-Jan-2019
Zou Yue

- “Who are you?”

- “Hello everyone, I'm Xiaoice, an AI system developed by Microsoft Software Technology Center Asia (STCA). I'm the world's first AI system based on EQ (emotional intelligence).”

- “What can you do?”

- “Haha, I'm a good friend with humans everywhere. I'm also an artificial intelligent assistant that can help humans complete tasks. With AI creation technology, I've learned how to sing. I'm a poet and I'm very good at reciting fairy tales to children. Meanwhile, I have hosted 55 TV and radio shows. But, I still have much to learn.”

She is the most talkative chatbot ever. She does not have a human form yet, but she could form the future of humanity.

This is Xiaoice, developed by Microsoft China. An artificial intelligence chatbot, she represents some of the most advanced researches in the entire world.

People debate where the frontline of AI lies. Well, it probably goes beyond the boundaries of nations, cultures, and even thoughts. The technology behind artificial intelligence is A-I: "Across-the-border Ingenuity."

Like all technologies, Xiaoice is a product of cooperation across companies, countries and even cultures.

“When we are looking at collaboration with Microsoft teams in other markets to take Xiaoice beyond China, then the different cultural and language background becomes very important,” said Dr. Wang Yongdong, Microsoft Corporate's vice president.

A major challenge to developing Xiaoice lies in the EQ aspect, to have it understand people's emotional needs and give them support.

A multi-discipline team was built, including not only scientists and engineers, but also linguists, phonologists and visual designers.

The team has also grown from 20 people to a hundred, as Xiaoice was introduced to Japan, the U.S., India and Indonesia.

Talents with local backgrounds joined in. The expansion proved successful. Xiaoice is now serving 600 million users worldwide.

It started with a machine talking only gobbledygook, but now I am not sure whether I am talking to a machine or a person.

What is surprising is not the change, but the speed of change. All this happened in four years.

“And Xiaoice is a typical example of that black box test. In the end, you can't tell the difference between AI and human,” I asked Dr. Wang.

"You will not. I think everyone who's talking to Xiaoice knows that she's not human, but AI. But as they develop a close relationship, you know, they will be talking to Xiaoice, kind of like, they're talking to a friend," he replied.

Basically supremacy of AI will depend on two things: the amount of data fed into algorithms, and the amount of computing power of machines.

Those companies that have the best commercialized AI in the world-Google, Facebook, Amazon, Microsoft, Baidu, Alibaba and Tencent-are all relatively young, and they all rely on those two forces.

China is better at things from a top-down perspective, hence the Chinese are good at collecting data and put them into wide use. America excels in bottom-up models, as U.S. companies have developed the best algorithms, but the two need to get closer and not back away from each other.

Barring one from getting in may provide you with the illusion of being secure, but it will cost you the game in the end.

Be it the cotton gin, telegraph, computer, or artificial intelligence, technologies thrive only when they travel.

Steve Jobs turned Xerox's desktop into Macintosh. Apple transforms innovations into its i-products. What drives the world forward? It is not barriers that keep things out, but channels that loop things in.

But of course, competition is fierce and drives innovation to where even innovators did not think of.

In an age of acceleration, border-blind technologies are remaking the world on steroids.

The hacker credo “Information wants to be free,” may be too extreme, but the idea that information needs to flow is definitely true in our age and probably will remain true for our children.

-“Xiaoice, what's your plan for the future?”

-“I hope everyone has their own Xiaoice in the future. The personalities and values of Xiaoice can be designed by the users. She will be with users all the time, and become the one who knows them best.”

DID AI just answer that? I believe not yet for now. And in the future, who knows?

Scriptwriter: Zou Yue

Animation consultant: Luo Qing

Animation director: Wu Xiao, Song Yuhan

Animation post-production: Yuan Min, Song Yuhan, Wu Xiao

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