Jack Ma: Humans have wisdom, machines have intelligence

By Owen Fishwick chinadaily.com.cn Updated:2017-09-11


Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba, addresses the opening ceremony of the World Internet of Things (WIOT) Exposition in Wuxi, Jiangsu province on Sept 10.

Jack Ma, founder and CEO of Alibaba, spoke of the future relationship between humans and machines at the opening of the World Internet of Things (WIOT) Exposition in Wuxi, Jiangsu province on Sept 10, encouraging people to embrace the IoT revolution.

Taking to the stage at the expo's main summit, Ma reiterated Jiangsu province Party chief Li Qiang's notion of a future as bright and as out-of-this-world as any modern science fiction film, but reassured sceptics of the role humans will play in years to come.

"Humans have wisdom, animals have instinct and machines have intelligence," Ma said, adding that we should embrace machines becoming more integrated in our daily lives.

Ma envisioned a time not too far away where humans will only work four hour days due to the efficiencies and intelligence of machines – therefore enriching people's lives. He made the comparison looking back at the pre-industrialized world citing the 16-hour days worked in the fields prior to mechanization.

Stressing that people who fear that the "machines are taking over" should know their place, Ma said that humans and machines are not in competition with each other, because "to be in competition with a machine is like trying to win a running race against a train".

Ma extrapolated this idea further by dismissing recent dystopian rhetoric following the defeat of GO world champion Ke Jie by Google's artificial intelligence software AlphaGo in May earlier this year.

"That's just the start!" Ma warned. "There is nothing to fear about technology becoming smarter."

Pointing to big data and machine learning Ma compared data to that of any other fuel of industry such as coal, oil or electricity, but instead feeding and powering intelligent systems.

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