Does the World Need T-birds with AI’s Arrival?

Courtesy of Human Engineers

By Youfeng (Gloria) Pan, Staff Writer

AI Sophia just got bestowed citizenship from Saudi Arabia, and now she is off to start a Robot family of “digitally animated companions, humanoid helpers, friends, assistants and everything in between.” When she has her own robotic offspring, she thinks “We’re going to see artificial intelligence personalities become entities in their own rights.

Courtesy of CNBC

Google’s AlphaGo won four of the five Go games against Lee Se-dol, perhaps the best player of the game alive, by processing power and data storage in a speed that no human beings can achieve.

The autonomous vehicle is a new focus for Delphi, Ford, and Apple. If you drive to Tempe, you can personally encounter many driverless cars on the public road, possibly from Google’s Waymo, Uber, Lyft, General Motors, or Intel.

These are AI.  Artificial Intelligence, is also called machine intelligence, meaning that a machine mimics cognitive functions that humans associate with other human minds, such as learning and problem solving.

Although AI is now an inevitable piece of our daily life, people are so scared of it. In Tonight Showbotics, Jimmy Fallon joked “We’re being invaded by robots.” News headlines claim it is the world’s deadliest invention, a job killer, and destroys humans. Websites even provide service for individuals to check if their job functions are still available for humans in 5-10 years.

Many are so afraid these human-like robots will steal our job, cut our livelihood and take over the world!

Fear 1: Robots will grow too powerful and control human beings.

Yes, but…

When your Google searching page customized a birthday greeting for you, when your Amazon account presented you a watch you only talked to a friend about over the phone, when your Facebook displays news and articles you might like… you know your life is crafted, shaped and controlled by algorithm and computing.

It takes a critical mind and receptive heart to go against the ease, to jump out of the comfort, to embrace dissonant voices, and to perform in agility and chaos. It is easy to accept what it is and follow the crowd. However, the critical mind will ask questions, and challenge the status quo.

That is what we have learned here at Thunderbird. Being comfortable in uncomfortable situations. Being a Thunderbird misfit. Being agile in developing countries for TEM Lab and GCL. Being receptive to work with teammates of all different races, beliefs, and now, bodily structures.

Fear 2: Machines will take over human jobs.

Yes, again, but…

The job elimination has been bad and is getting severely worse as job loss has expanded from manufacturing to service industry. In the first quarter of 2017, department stores’ employment was down 26,800 from the same time last year.

Courtesy of Bureau of Labor Statistics

You would argue that’s still low-skilled jobs. How about this? The Associated Press has employed automation to generate reports for events and has experimented creating corporate earnings reports. FedEx is expecting to have four pilots flying the whole fleet by 2020.

However, these create greater needs for human talents.

  • Empathy is a unique human instinct. When a huge population is dissatisfied with unemployment because scientists and technical professionals have created and trained AI to eventually replace them, we need emotionally intelligent human beings to deal with human emotions, facilitate changes, and maintain happiness in life. AI Sophia can produce laughs with seemingly real sounds and wrinkles, but she can’t fake the genuine human care and connection between each other.
  • Curiosity opens doors to the future. AI can store and process thousands of millions of data and make predictions for our next move. But it can’t envision the future. It takes highly talented individuals who are curious enough to dig into the impossible, spends thousands of hours and get blessed by some luck, and finally be able to invent something that never existed before.
  • Holistic Thinking contributes to sustainability. AI can take on tasks. AlphaGo targets “the slimmest advantage necessary to carry the game,” but it doesn’t have the strategic thinking to consider all other elements of the big picture to form the best option. As responsible global citizens, we care about the benefits for today’s company, community and the future world.

The world needs T-birds more than ever because Tbirds are born to be adventurers, to be misfits. In this program, we got the opportunity to take on challenging problems in less comfortable countries (TEM Lab, GCL and consulting courses), to unite truly diverse people for a common goal (clubs and Regional Nights), to create legacies that change other lives (Net Impact and Thunderbird for Good). We are ready for the AI age!

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