Facing the future

 Facing the future
(Photo courtesy of IBM)

After AlphaGo — an artificial intelligence (AI) that specialises in playing the strategy board game Go — beat world champion Lee Sedol from South Korea 4-1 in 2016, people in the technology field took a closer look at AI and wondered if it could beat humans even more. Though AI plays significant roles in our routine lives, many Thai people still don’t know what it is and how it is relevant to our lives.

To discuss AI so everyone can understand its role across fields such as education, finance, health, economy, international relations, fashion, philosophy, and music and film, the National Innovation Agency (NIA), Startup Thailand and Social Lab are holding the “AI Virtual Seminar 2020” tomorrow.

Four key speakers for the event are Prof Thanaruk Theeramunkong, president of the Artificial Intelligence Association of Thailand (AIAT); Suchatchavee Suwansawas, rector of King Mongkut’s Institute of Technology Ladkrabang; Pornthip Kongchun, COO and co-founder of Jitta; and Supachai Parchariyanon, founder of Rise Corporate Innovation Powerhouse.

Social Lab founder and event organiser Chatpawee ‘Cee’ Trichachawanwong. (Photo courtesy of Social Lab)

“The AI Virtual Seminar 2020 will be organised because we want people in all fields to be aware and realise how AI is relevant to them and how to adopt AI in their field. People who successfully use AI are the people who can connect AI business to other businesses,” said IT expert and Social Lab founder Chatpawee “Cee” Trichachawanwong.

Ahead of tomorrow’s seminar, Life spoke to Chatpawee about AI and its role in this digital age.

What exactly is AI?

AI isn’t just a machine. It is like an empty brain that we have to teach to do what we want. After the brain gathers many conditions about how to handle different situations, when a situation occurs, it can run autonomously. For instance, an autonomous vehicle can run by itself, but it must have very accurate functions because it involves human lives. AI has been around us for several years.

Has AI recently increased its role in our lives?

Yes because AI is relevant to big data. In a large organisation, AI is used to manage big data. There are relevant and irrelevant data, but many data affects our businesses such as branding an image or product. If we sell juice, we need to use ‘social listening’, which is AI’s monitoring of brands on social media. AI detects if there are negative comments about our brand presenter or if the presenter is involved in any inappropriate situations that can affect our brand. Apart from the number of sales, everyone is aware to be concerned about data because it can affect our businesses.

What will be the highlight of the ‘AI Virtual Seminar 2020’?

There will be discussion among people in IT businesses on topics concerning people who have little knowledge about IT. In the seminar, we will recommend tools for users. We often hear that large companies don’t know which tools that they need to invest in. For people who are aware that they need to use AI, we will introduce software that they can use conveniently and explain what kind of results they will gain. Also, the four key speakers will answer questions from any online attendees.

Is there any extraordinary AI that was created during Covid-19?

There are many, but I would like to mention AI for security and military. Instead of having armies of soldiers to fight wars, today there is a data war. If some other country has all of Thailand’s information and data, what would the security of Thailand be like? If that country knows what we buy, which country we buy from and how often we buy those things, that country will have an advantage over Thailand. I’m not surprised to see Microsoft and Oracle try to buy TikTok because everyone lives not only in the physical world, but also in the virtual world. Even celebrities like Jennifer Lopez and Ed Sheeran have accounts on TikTok. Whether there is coronavirus or not, this kind of data security is a risk. If we know both ourselves and our enemies, we will always win the battles.

Which career is most at risk of being replaced by AI?

It is a sensitive issue. I don’t want to bring up a specific career. Dr Winn Voravuthikunchai who is famous for developing the AI friendly chatbot @botnoi said he isn’t going to create any programmes that cause people to become unemployed or completely replaced. He aims to create programmes to become tools that improve work efficiency, allowing people to complete their work in a shorter period of time. An episode of the documentary AI Virtual Seminar which was posted on YouTube before the seminar mentions the ‘useless class’ or low-skilled workers who can be replaced by AI. There is a gap between classes in many countries and some countries decided to have a robot tax. Any company that uses lots of machines and reduces employees must pay a robot tax. In the future, governments may have to support the ‘useless class’. If labourers are ineffective and don’t improve their skills, they are at risk of being unemployed.

What kind of qualifications should employees have in order to avoid being replaced by AI?

They should be multiskilled and have lots of knowledge, so they can choose and apply knowledge when needed. Unlike AI, humans also gather experiences, so we possess a method of thinking and creating. Don’t panic about AI. We should look at AI as tools and learn how to use them. If we can do this, we will have a competitive advantage over others.

Should we be worried about AI errors that we hear about in the news?

Since humans can error, so can software. There needs to be rules and laws concerning usage of AI. I think people who make these rules and regulations need to be knowledgeable and updated about technology. For instance, there should be punishment or insurance if a delivery service drone drops a package on someone because accidents can always occur.

Has AI been used in the justice system yet?

Yes. AI doesn’t know ethics, or good or bad. In some countries, judges have to work hard because lots of cases are in a queue for misdemeanours, so AI are used to lighten the loads of judges by gathering information. Judges will have data about how often the accused has committed crimes and can compare all information. Then, judges can decide a fitting punishment, whether or not the accused should be given leniency. AI helps to gather information, but humans are the ones who make the judgement.

How can we protect our personal data from detection by AI?

We have to read terms and conditions carefully, but most people usually don’t want to read them. Recently, iOS14 provides icons to warn users if their cameras turn on unintentionally while they are using an application. Some users aren’t aware that their cameras are turned on even when they are in the restroom, so platforms like iOS try to help users stay safe.

(Photo: facebook.com/Chatpawee)

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