At an event organized in Shanghai, before the pandemic, two of the most inspiring entrepreneurs and innovators of the moment met for 45 minutes: Jack Ma (Alibaba) and Elon Musk (Tesla). At this event, they shared their perspectives on Artificial Intelligence and many other subjects (e.g., Mars, education, longevity, population, etc.).
Although this event received a lot of coverage and analysis, I would like to provide a further description and analysis considering alternative elements.
Alibaba Intelligence vs Neuralink
Both innovators take every opportunity to promote their ideas and companies. Jack Ma uses the acronym matching to talk about Alibaba Intelligence (AI) and how his company creates value for customers. Elon Musk takes the opportunity to introduce his alternative adventure to Tesla and Mars: Neura-link, which is still the least known of his ventures, but perhaps the most related to the impact of new technologies in the generation of new capacities for the humans (augmented worker) and in the development of the interface between the brain and the machine (brain-computer interaction).
Mars or Earth.
One of the most interesting debates is the one related to Mars. For Jack Ma, we should not be interested in the universe if we still have so many problems to solve on Earth. For Elon Musk, the development of an interplanetary human race is one of the most important goals for understanding the nature of the universe and increasing our consciousness as humanity. Additionally, for Elon Musk, we have for the first time the opportunity to extend life beyond Earth and we should not miss this opportunity. An exciting debate.
Artificial Intelligence to better understand humanity.
For Jack Ma, artificial intelligence should help us improve the knowledge we have of ourselves, as humans, as a society, and not so much to go to Mars. Understanding our humanity better will help us to improve the problems we have on Earth. However, Elon Musk defends himself by stating that dedicating a very low percentage of Earth’s resources to increasing humanity’s awareness of the Universe is a very profitable investment for the future.
AI will allow humans to live longer, healthier, but not so happily.
Artificial intelligence and new technologies will make it possible to create new jobs, as other technological revolutions have done in the past. We will have more jobs. However, Jack Ma affirms that, instead of having more jobs, new jobs, humanity should be able to work less (3 days, 4 hours a day, for example) to enjoy life more and better. Likewise, artificial intelligence and new technologies will allow people to live 120 years. (In the age of agriculture people lived 30-35 years, in the industrial age people lived 70 years). However, people are expected to experience more anxiety and stress, which will make people not necessarily happier.
Education: less memorizing, less calculating, and more creativity.
For Jack Ma, more than worrying about jobs, we must worry about education. Machines can remember more things and with better capabilities than humans. Also, machines can calculate better and faster than humans. Then what should be the role of humans: creativity. We must develop skills to be more creative and innovative. We should teach more art, more painting, more dance in schools. The number one priority of society and governments must be the reform of the education system. For Elon Musk, it is also very important to develop skills to understand, predict, anticipate the future. The current education system is going very slow, and that is a risk in understanding the future.
Finally, I would like to comment that one more or less conference in the world is not relevant. The important thing is that we are all interested in listening, understanding, and learning from the new leaders and innovators of the world who are marking the path of the future. As they say themselves, the future is made. This debate allows us to validate that Jack Ma and Elon Musk have extraordinary abilities to anticipate the future, execute or make the future, and evangelize/communicate about the future.
Understanding our humanity better will help us to improve the problems we have on Earth – Jack Ma.