New Drivers for the Construction of an Intelligent Society

Development trends indicate that robots will not be able to completely replace workers. Just the opposite, in fact: the development of intelligent robots will drive the creation of new jobs and can resolve the contradictions in human resources structures. The reason that robots can replace some human laborers is that there are dislocations in human resource structures: ordinary university graduates are mostly unwilling to undertake the repetitive work of technicians. The first reason that robots cannot completely replace humans is that there aren’t that many companies in China capable of building fully automated production lines, even within the manufacturing industry. Furthermore, robots generally can’t do everything themselves, but are rather merely links in a chain of highly automated production lines, meaning that some work is inevitably left to humans. The second reason is cost. Although mass production of robots does reduce costs, a custom robot currently still costs several tens of thousands of yuan, to which one must add the significant costs of repairs, upgrades, renovations, and so on. The third reason is that robots cannot surpass humans in intelligence. The first robots built with artificial intelligence were maybe only as smart as a very young child; they encountered frequent sudden problems or decisions that required the flexibility of the human mind to resolve. So at present the application of industrial robots remains just one piece in highly automated production lines, with great quantities of robots in use only in enormous manufacturing companies that produce in great quantity, like Foxconn, or in toxic or highly dangerous settings not suitable for human workers.

To make the most of artificial intelligence, and to build an intelligent society that spurs drivers of economic growth, fosters the creation of structural adjustment models, drives upgrading and renewal of industries, and creates new advantages in international competition, I have the following suggestions:

First, we should resolve to expend great efforts to develop AI 2.0 technology. We should deploy dedicated funds and bring in social capital at the appropriate time to achieve long-term strategic development objectives – divided by stages – in Big Data intelligence, internet cluster intelligence, cross-media intelligence, human-robot mixed intelligence, autonomous intelligent systems, and other forward-looking, fundamental research. We should actively explore revolutionary innovations and leap forward from “following” development into “leading” development.

Second, we should accurately grasp the painful and difficult spots in building an intelligent society. We should make full use of the dual mechanisms and effects of the government and markets and clarify the development trends, fields of application, and growth points for supply of AI under the current information environment and data foundations, aiming to meet the practical demands of industry innovation and entrepreneurship and socioeconomic development, in order to provide accurate handles and bases for policy-making in the construction of an intelligent society.

Third, we should innovate in human resources education and training mechanisms. We should select a number of high-level universities for the establishment of AI research and training centers; deepen cooperation with the related fields of machinery, design, healthcare, economics, and so on; and strengthen systemic integration and interaction in the intellectual fields of computing sciences, neuroscience, psychology, and so on. We should encourage capable higher learning institutions and research institutes to build comprehensive platforms for the provision of effective linkage in cross-disciplinary training and applied, practical sciences.

Fourth, we should support science and technology organizations in the establishment of coordinated AI innovation bodies. We should discuss and collect guiding opinions for industry development in the areas of new technologies, new industries, new models, and new routes for an intelligent society, in order to create advanced intelligent society pilots for the building of the hardware environment. We should drive research institutes and companies to come together to build AI “entrepreneurship and innovation” platforms that provide public services in areas such as research and design, experimentation and testing, information consulting, and human resources training.