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[Read more session reports from the WSIS Forum 2018]

Mr Reinhard Scholl, deputy director of International Telecommunication Union Telecommunication Standardization Sector (ITU-T), moderated this session. He briefly introduced the two speakers. 

Mr Stephen Ibaraki, founder, AI for Good Committee, addressed the impacts of the fourth industrial revolution. According to Ibaraki, blockchain and cryptocurrency are rapidly increasing in value. The cryptocurrency market place reached almost 1 trillion US dollars in value this year. This kind of funding is exceeding traditional investor funding. One billion smartphone users created augmented reality content this year, and its revenue is predicted to be 1 billion dollars by 2020, 10 times more than in 2018. We have already seen the impact of the fourth industrial revolution on companies. In the 50s, the lifetime of a company was 61 years, while today it is 15 years. In 2011, only one company based on technology was in the top five positions of market capitalisation, today all top five are technology companies. Chinese companies are currently included in the top five. GE, which used to be regularly on the top five is now ranked on 34.

To achieve growth, companies have to transform their business, investing in software algorithms. The most innovative companies are using big data and machine learning. 79% of strong innovators are using digital innovation and 43% are using big data and machine learning in some way. Artificial intelligence (AI), blockchain, cryptocurrency, the Internet of things, cybersecurity, the cloud, FinTech, the future of work, and financial inclusion are aspects of the fourth industrial revolution. In 2019, we will see the expansion of digital identity. Digital identity is already implemented in India where 1.3 billion people already use it.

AI is at the heart of the fourth industrial revolution. AI, meaning machine learning robotics, represents having human cognition replaced and enhanced by algorithms, building AI assistance, automation, and autonomous intelligence. AI will be responsible for a 16 trillion US dollar increase in global GDP by 2030 – due to productivity enhancement and high-quality services. What are the different kinds of AI? They are forms of assisted intelligence, which help people to perform tasks; augmented intelligence, which helps people to make decisions; and automated intelligence, which is related to automated tasks and decision making.

What are the gains from AI? Fifty-five percent of the gain in GDP from 2017-2030 will be due to improvements in productivity related to AI.  Who benefits from AI? According to Ibaraki, 60% of the world will profit from the use of AI. China is leading the way with an expected 26% increase in its GDP by 2030. Additional global trends include: China has 1.3 billion pieces of facial data for insurance corporations and government uses. The government is working on a project for a computer that will be 20 time faster than any market leader now.

Every industry will be affected by the fourth industrial revolution, according to AI ITU and the UN based on evidence they already have. Ibaraki estimates that more than 30 UN organizations, including leaders, governments, academia, and civil society will be gathering to foster implementation of AI to solve real problems. AI accountability, AI responsibility, and AI transparency are issues to be taken into account by multistakeholders. Last year, the EU adopted a resolution requiring the EU Commission to establish civil rules on AI liability, registration for smart robots, the impact of robots on the workforce, a code of ethical conduct, and a new agency for robotics.

There are a lot of questions of principle related to AI. Ibaraki called for collaboration amongst the different stakeholders in the international community to address the fundamental changes, including AI, that are happening so quickly, to ensure that they solve human problems.

Mr Frederic Werner, ITU-T head of communications,, stressed that the AI for Good Summit calls for global collaboration. Last year, the summit held the first conversations about the benefits of AI at the UN level. This year, the summit will try to identify practical applications of AI and to analyse how AI can develop in a safe, trustworthy and inclusive way. The summit will employ aa multistakeholder approach, representing a unique intersection of people meeting to discuss how AI will affect our future. AI experts themselves say that ‘AI is too important to leave it with the experts’.


By Ana Corrêa