• Tangible AI applications driver stronger societies 
  • Facebook: “We must be careful” in the adoption of AI
  • AI applications to drive UN Sustainable Development Goals 

MWC19: Technology executives have called for the ethical use of artificial intelligence (AI), with Facebook and Alibaba pointing to the potential positive social impact that is promised by AI.

Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona

Mobile World Congress 2019 in Barcelona

Source: GSMA

With a particular focus on the tools, technology and talent; artificial intelligence (AI) was top of the agenda for experts speaking during a conference session today at Mobile World Congress.

Debunking the hype and focussing the debate on the technological benefits and opportunities, AI offers scope to define business problems with tangible solutions, explained Alibaba Cloud chief machine intelligence scientist Dr Wanli Min.

He said: “The future is the deployment of AI in the right context for the right benefit to society with industry collaboration.

“AI development must be inclusive and engage mobile users from a young generation with people from China across to Africa.”

Driving artificial innovation is a combination of successful data analysis to guide the programming; Min highlighted how critical the implementation to business structures, “where the intelligence can learn human behaviour.”

He added this is critical to enhance processing and ultimately contribute to global sustainable goals.

Machine intelligence has been successfully employed from the health, retail, manufacturing and media sectors with case studies highlighting the enhancement to society operations including synchronised traffic lights for emergencies to autonomous driving and healthcare support.

Min said: “There is huge potential for AI to deliver tangible benefits for traditional manufacturing…with system integration and data acquisition for calculation and control of feedback in real time data flow of intelligence.

“We want to turn the [AI] proof-of-concepts into a platform and eventually evolve this for the people’s benefit.”

He explained fundamentally AI is a smart system, “A network of integrated data acquisition, calculation, prediction, control and feedback in real time, it is an actionable intelligence” and is ingrained in TV programming, healthcare operations and facial recognition on social media.

“AI is already having a major impact for the good” - Antonie Bordes, Facebook

Facebook has been in the spotlight recently with the UK government calling for the social media giant to reform its “digital gangster” status after a government report concludedit was facilitating the spread of fake news and disinformation. 

With a brief nod to the bad press the social media giant has received, Facebook director of AI research science Antonie Bordes called for collaboration with policy makers to better inform society and train the algorithms.

He said: “AI is already having a major impact for the good,” however he cautioned, “we must be careful.”

While Facebook does not currently operate a cloud service, Bordes said: “We want to use pure AI research in the labs that is open-sourced to democratise AI.

“The hype is not too strong, there is a lot of potential to create new businesses where we will see more applications and use cases.”

With 2.7 billion active users, Facebook has faced scrutiny as a technology platform, a publishers and a proprietor of its users data with eight data centres it employs more than 250 staff that specialise in AI. 

“Where you draw the line is a massive question,” Bordes explained. “What we are seeing today we weren’t seeing five years ago, we are making the platform more secure and moderating the bad behaviour.”

Bordes called for collaboration and urged AI specialists to work with governments and policy makers to develop the rules of the future. He highlighted Facebook’s partnership with the French government to help them “see inside” the issues presented by AI. 

“We need to stop talking about robots taking our jobs because humans will decide” - Tabitha Goldstaub, CognitionX

The fear around artificial super intelligence (ASI) surpassing human cognition is a significant part the debate.

CognitionX co-founder and chair of the UK’s government AI council Tabitha Goldstaub said: “We need to stop talking about robots taking our jobs because humans will decide, we need to decide where we are going to point our tools, technology and talent for the greater good.

“AI could be the greatest saviour and this is the promise that is driving the hype.”

Goldstaud also urged organisations to commit to social change and sustainability - the GSMA endorses the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals - calling for AI to be applied to the world’s biggest problems as the best way for companies to drive solutions.

”We have already seen Google AI invest millions, however there is more to be done.”

She added: “A lot of companies are already employing AI for the good and the AI race is on… how can AI be the technology to enable things we have never done before?”