ASpeaking at the Forbes Global CEO Conference in Singapore on Tuesday, artificial intelligence experts expressed optimism about the future of AI, despite some concerns that the fast-growing technology could dramatically change business and society.
Eduardo Severin, co-founder and co-CEO of Singapore-based venture capital firm B Capital, said on a panel, “I believe the current evolution of generative AI is a major acceleration of a long-term trend of leveraging technology as a toolset. At the Forbes Global CEO Conference. “Where this potentially starts to phase change is the idea that over time, computers can effectively program themselves… We’re in the very early stages of that evolution or that phase change, and that’s incredibly exciting.”
The Facebook (now Meta) co-founder, who topped Singapore’s 50 richest list this year with a net worth of $16 billion, added, “What’s powerful about (AI technology) is that it’s in some ways realizing the idea of the world. Be personalized on a level.
This includes tailored content, such as the idea of a hyper-personalized social media newsfeed—one of Meta’s “key evolutions” in the company’s early days, Severin notes—that allows users to scroll through relevant content based on their interests.
Other panelists included Meng Ru Kuok, Group CEO and Founder of Caldecott Music Group, Antoine Blondeau, Co-Founder and Managing Partner of Alpha Intelligence Capital, and Rohan Narayan Murthy, Founder and CTO of Sorocco.
In creative fields like the music industry, AI-driven developments are giving people the opportunity to “do things they couldn’t do before, and do them at scale and potentially autonomously,” said Kuok, who is the founder of Music Production. App BandLab.
“Music has really been using algorithms and AI and innovation and technology for a long time, whether it’s the transition from the recording studio to personal computing,” Kuok said. “Even as an operator, the pace and unpredictable nature of technology change has changed all old perspectives on opportunities.”
Still, developments are at risk from bad actors who can use AI tools to “create repetitive, autonomous things” that present risks, Kuok added, citing concerns like fraud related to music streaming. “I worry less about the computer, I worry more about the human being,” he said. “It’s really something to think about for us, from security to… Historically, it’s been humans who have been the problem and also the solution.”
“Everything consumer-facing is going to be incredibly enhanced,” noted Blondeau, who worked on the project that became Apple’s voice assistant, Siri. These customer-oriented sectors include healthcare and education, which he predicts AI will grow in the next few years. They raise the prospect of AI-powered drug discovery that could identify potential variants of disease before it manifests or treat debilitating conditions like cancer. “I always say that AI will save us before it kills us,” he said.
“AI will make us experience longer, it will make us hyper-productive… that’s the hope, and it’s a big hope,” Blondeau added. “The fear is that we’ll go into video games, right? We don’t have much to do and the machines have to work hard.”
According to Murthy, some of the concerns surrounding AI may include the integration of systems that imitate the thinking of humans. “I don’t think (AI) is understanding, and I think there’s a lot of confusion around it,” he said. AI works “as a black box” to simulate parts of human cognition, but not the whole. “When we start thinking about cognition, it’s the last refuge or bastion of human difference in this world, it becomes very scary,” added Murthy.
Yet “AI is the perfect tool” to unlock certain problems by leveraging data rather than questionnaires to identify areas of improvement in companies. “First of all, we have an opportunity to influence every organization, in terms of how they work, how they think,” Murthy said. “The question of how office work should be done differently or better is answered by a machine, not a person.”
AI’s potential to overtake humans reflects how any rapid innovation brings the “potential for human displacement,” but AI can create a “win-win situation” for both small and large businesses. “We are human after all, and we want to experience the world and digest the world in a human way,” he said.
“These (AI) technologies will make corporations efficient, make profit centers more efficient…and what you can do as an individual, but there will be an infinite way to potentially learn and enable how you make money and how you become an active participant. There will be an evolution in income generation in the world,” Severin said. “We have to be very careful to enable that evolution to go in the right direction.”