AI luminary Kai-Fu Lee and sci-fi author Chen Qiufan predict the future in ‘AI 2041’ – TechCrunch

Where will be today technologies will guide us for the next 20 years, and what will an AI-infused world look like across the globe? Sinovation founder and thought leader Kai-Fu Lee and sci-fi author Chen Qiufan (aka Stanley Chen) make an educated guess in “AI 2041: Ten visions for our future” a set of 10 stories and 10 essays exploring and explaining the potential and pitfalls of AI.

After reading the book – I’ll be posting a review shortly and TechCrunch recently posted a snippet – I spoke with Lee and Chen at TechCrunch Disrupt 2021 about how the collaboration came about, how their views coincided and differed, and why they think about the future will be how they describe it.

(Quotes have been edited slightly for clarity.)

Lee and Chen met a few years ago – one a thought leader and successful AI entrepreneur, the other an author whose incisive descriptions of the dilemmas to come have brought him international acclaim. They decided to collaborate on a hybrid work that would have narratives born out of informed speculation and exhibition pieces illustrated by the narrative.

Image credits: Currency | Random house

“It’s really to tell the whole story of AI because AI is so important. Everyone should know more, but it’s also a little intimidating because it sounds technical, ”Lee told me. “And what better way to tell the story than by really telling the stories?” “

“We knew each other briefly at the time at Google, and I was still thinking about writing a book about future technology, based on very specific science, facts and theories,” Chen said. “But without Kai-Fu, I couldn’t do this, because I’m not the expert in the field.”

The result of their collaboration is “AI 2041”: ten stories of Chen taking place during the title year, all over the world, with people from all walks of life encountering AI in the many ways the authors think it is. it can shape society over the next two decades. Each story is followed by an explanatory essay by Lee that addresses the technicalities and explains why they could lead to that future.

The stories are stand-alone but take place in something like a shared world, each illustrating a potential application, conflict, or shift in thinking that the AI ​​could lead to. It is important to note that AI is recognizable as an evolution of existing technologies.

“We started with a framework of four things,” Lee said. “One is that I wanted to cover about 15 technologies in 10 stories. I also wanted to order them to go from easy to hard, so it’s kind of like an AI textbook – you know, you learn it by reading stories. Then we both wanted it to be across different industries like education and healthcare etc. to show that AI is having an impact everywhere. And finally, Stanley wanted it to be in 10 different countries.

Take for example the story “Gods Behind the Masks”. This is a talented deepfake maker working in Lagos who knows the ins and outs of contradictory generative networks, image inspection, media channels, and more. He’s tasked with creating a video of a long-dead celebrity that not only fools the people watching it, but the hosting service’s automated scanners, government facial recognition algorithms and everything in between – but he’s starting to suspect that there is some unsavory motive behind this. (I don’t spoil the rest).


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