While fire is regarded as one of the greatest invention of the Early Stone Age, followed by the discovery of electricity in the 1800’s, Google’s CEO Sundar Pichai considers AI (artificial intelligence) impact on humanity to be more ‘profound’ than fire or electricity.
Speaking as part of a new show hosted by MSNBC’s Ari Melber and Recode’s Kara Swisher, Pichai, 45, said that AI is ‘one of the most important things that humanity is working on. It’s more profound that, I don’t know, electricity or fire.’
“Fire’s pretty good,” Swisher said.
However, Pichai drew equals to electricity and fire, and said that AI is basically both useful and dangerous at the same time.
“But it kills people, too. They learn to harness fire for the benefits of humanity, but we have to overcome its downsides, too,” Pichai said.
While admitting some concerns about AI taking over the world one day, Pichai also mentioned that he feels that AI technology will inevitably play a significant role in the advancement of humanity, such as curing cancer and providing climate change solutions.
“My point is AI is really important, but we have to be concerned about it,” Pichai said. “It’s fair to be worried about it—I wouldn’t say we’re just being optimistic about it— we want to be thoughtful about it. AI holds the potential for some of the biggest advances we’re going to see.
“Whenever I see the news of a young person dying of cancer, you realize AI is going to play a role in solving that in the future. So I think we owe it to make progress too.”
However, Pichai did acknowledge the need for “balance” to be struck between AI technology’s downsides and upsides.
The extracts are part of a new series on MSNBC called “Revolution: Google and YouTube Changing the World” where Pichai along with YouTube CEO Susan Wojcicki were interviewed. The show featuring the full interview with Pichai is scheduled to air on US news channel MSNBC on January 26.