The Future of Artificial Intelligence:

How Data Intelligence is Reshaping our World

As digitisation advances, artificial intelligence (A.I.) can use ever-growing sets of data to do anything from personalising advertisement placement to detecting depression using a person’s browsing habits. On August 16, 2021, Global Bridges hosted a video symposium about the future of artificial intelligence with the Silicon Valley entrepreneur Young Sohn, former Corporate President and Chief Strategy Officer of Samsung Electronics and current Chairman of the Board of HARMAN. Throughout the event, he talked about opportunities and risks connected to the expansion of data collection, increasing processing power of supercomputers, and increasingly sophisticated A.I. programs.

The session was moderated by the internationally renowned TV presenter Ali Aslan, who has interviewed many global leaders and public figures such as US President Bill Clinton, German Chancellor Angela Merkel, French President Emmanuel Macron and European Commission President Ursula von der Leyen.

On behalf of Global Bridges, Dr. Beate Lindemann, Executive Chairman of the association, took part. 60 members and Young Leaders Alumni had registered their participation.

The event was filmed by the team around Young Sohn. The video recording can be accessed here:

After a brief welcome and introduction by Dr. Beate Lindemann and Ali Aslan, Young Sohn thanked Dr. Lindemann and Global Bridges for organising the event. He then explained how data economy functions, saying that without A.I. to make sense of data, there would be no use in big data collection. Although only around 2.5% of collected data is analysed, the increasing processing power of computers means that this number will grow as time goes on. This allows for more and more ways to use the data, which can, for example, accelerate drug discovery by Bio-Tech companies or translate spoken language in real time already.

Asked by Ali Aslan what ethical A.I. means to him, Young Sohn replied that there are three things that are most crucial when it comes to data: privacy, security, and ethics. While different policies and value systems around the world influence the use of A.I., he stressed that data does not lie, and that only bias in A.I. programs can cause a wrong portrayal of data. An important goal is therefore to eliminate bias in the system to make it as neutral as possible. What data is used is even more important, as unsuitable data inputs lead to an output that is not useful. In terms of privacy, he stressed that people should be able to opt into giving away their data and not be forced to do so by default. Large sets of data are often disseminated in such a way that privacy cannot be guaranteed.

One of the most worrisome issues to Young Sohn was the threat of cyber-attacks. The number of ransomware attacks each year are in the millions, with huge amounts of money being lost through either the attack itself or the pay-off to the blackmailers. These kinds of attacks also negatively affect the reputations of their victims and in turn lower the general trust in the system. Modern smartphones contain such comprehensive sets of information about the phone holder that cyber-attacks can cause devastating personal loss as well.

Young Sohn showed himself to be very worried about state-sponsored cyber-attacks as well. In his opinion, states should be more proactive when it comes to cyber-attacks and not wait for them to happen to invest in countermeasures as these attacks can cripple entire economies. Also, to better implement A.I. in work processes, Young Sohn stressed that better infrastructure is necessary, and that Germany is lagging behind. Especially broadband connections should be a focus in this respect.

In the next years, he predicted that Virtual Reality would become much more of a factor, as young people around the world become more and more active in this sphere, creating their own worlds within these systems. Augmented Reality, i.e., a computer-based extension to human sensibilities, is already used in certain industries and can even help surgeons to work more precisely.

Young Sohn also talked about the Extreme Tech Challenge, a start-up ecosystem that supports young entrepreneurs who work within the UN Sustainable Development Goals framework. Its aim is to create a community of young, sustainability-oriented entrepreneurs that learn from each other to contribute to better healthcare, food supply and a lower rate of environmental pollution.

When asked by Ali Aslan what differences he could see between Silicon Valley and Berlin in terms of innovation, Young Sohn answered that there is much creativity in the German tech companies. The innovation is somewhat incremental, however, while in Silicon Valley, breakthroughs are often achieved with “out-of-box” thinking.

On the topic of digitisation, he stressed that while Germany is still world-leading when it comes to analogue industry, e.g., producing the best knives, it lags behind in terms of digitisation due to its risk-averse mindset.

Asked by a participant which technology would pave the way for A.I., Young Sohn replied that A.I. is already within all new smartphones, and that even cars produce terabytes of data that are analysed by companies. A.I. is therefore not limited to one or a few technologies, but rather it has a large area of application.

Another participant was interested in how the social sciences and humanities can contribute to the development of A.I., which Young Sohn remarked is a field that is often overlooked. The future of A.I., in his opinion, will be to design A.I. along the lines of human behaviour. Therefore, understanding human behaviour and psychology will be key to understanding how computers work in the future.

Asked by the moderator about the future of manufacturing jobs in the face of digitisation, Young Sohn remarked that while jobs will be lost, every major technological revolution holds immeasurably potent opportunities as well.

A participant from the audience asked how policymakers can be made to understand the workings of A.I. and how to foster technological development in this field. Replying to this, Young Sohn said that policies about A.I. would have to be flexible and easy to change if the need arises, as A.I. development is moving forward very quickly.

At the end of the symposium, Young Sohn and Ali Aslan thanked Dr. Beate Lindemann and Global Bridges for the organisation of the event, after which Dr. Lindemann thanked all participants for attending the symposium.