Pichai stressed the importance of collaboration between government, academia, and industry. He further emphasised the need for transparency in AI development, stating that Google has an ethical framework that guides its development of AI systems.
Is the world ready for AI?
On the issue of society being prepared for the rapid growth of AI, Pichai said, “There are two ways I think about it. On one hand, I feel, no, because the pace at which we can think and adapt as societal institutions, compared to the pace at which the technology’s evolving, there seems to be a mismatch.
“On the other hand, compared to any other technology, I’ve seen more people worried about it earlier in its life cycle. So I feel optimistic. The number of people who have started worrying about the implications, and hence the conversations are starting in a serious way as well.”
One example of Google’s commitment to responsible AI development is the company’s work on Google Assistant, a voice-activated AI system that can perform a variety of tasks, from answering questions, telling jokes and setting up schedules, to controlling smart home devices.
Pichai explained that Google Assistant has been designed to be transparent about what data it collects and how it uses that data. He also noted that users have control over their data and can delete it at any time.
The Alphabet CEO also told CBS News that, ‘Society must quickly adapt with regulations for AI in the economy, laws to punish abuse and treaties among nations to make AI safe for the world.’
Jobs will be lost or automated
The CEO went on to acknowledge the concerns about the potential negative consequences of AI, such as job displacement and the possibility of AI systems being used for malicious purposes.
When asked what jobs would be disrupted, Pichai said, “Knowledge workers.” Like writers, accountants, architects and even software engineers, because AI can easily and instantly write computer code and create games.
James Manyika, senior vice president at Google said, “There are some job occupations that’ll start to decline over time. There are also new job categories that’ll grow over time. But the biggest change will be the jobs that’ll be changed. Something like more than two-thirds will have their definitions change. Not go away, but change.
“Because they’re now being assisted by AI and by automation. So this is a profound change which has implications for skills. How do we assist people to build new skills? Learn to work alongside machines. And how do these complement what people do today?” said Manyika.
To address the job replacement concerns, Pichai stressed the importance of retraining workers and investing in education programs that teach the skills needed for the jobs of the future.
They’re not sentient…yet
When asked about the possibility of Google’s Bard being sentient after displaying sentient capabilities, Manyika was quick to say, “They’re not sentient. They’re not aware of themselves. They can exhibit behaviours that look like that. Because keep in mind, they’ve learned from us. We’re sentient beings. We have beings that have feelings, emotions, ideas, thoughts, perspectives.
“We’ve reflected all that in books, in novels, in fiction. So, when they learn from that, they build patterns from that. So, it’s no surprise to me that the exhibited behaviour sometimes looks like maybe there’s somebody behind it. There’s nobody there. These are not sentient beings.”
When asked if machine[s] could one day be conscious of itself, Demis Hassabis, CEO of Deep Mind Technologies said, “I think there’s a possibility AI one day could be. I definitely don’t think they are today. But I think, again, this is one of the fascinating scientific things we’re gonna find out on this journey towards AI.”
Overall, Pichai emphasised the importance of responsible and ethical AI development, stating that it is essential to ensure that AI is used for the benefit of humanity. He also acknowledged that there are concerns about the potential negative consequences of AI, but he expressed optimism about the potential for AI to improve people’s lives and address some of the world’s biggest challenges.