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We’ve had visionary investors on stage before, and we’ve had sci-fi writers on stage – but never at the same time, let alone a pair who have collaborated on a unique book of stories and essays that make a difference. optimistic prediction of our infused AI. future. Sinovation founder Kai-Fu Lee and author of “Waste Tide” and others Chen Qiufan will join us at Disrupt (September 21-23) for a discussion of fiction and facts about the hottest tech. ‘today.

Lee, who was born in Taiwan, attended CMU and earned a doctorate in computer science, first working on speech recognition before working for Apple, SGI and Microsoft, then establishing Google China as president. His research and investment firm, Sinovation (originally Innovation Works) has been at the center of his mind since its founding in 2009, and he has become a leading mind and influential figure in AI.

In our last conversation with Lee, at Disrupt SF 2018, he pointed out that China is catching up with the United States in AI research and overtaking it in some ways. And his own investments have certainly helped. Since then, as a person who frequently thinks about what the future holds, he has found a soul mate in Chen Qiufan.

Qiufan is a Chinese author whose 2013 novel “Waste Tide” propelled him to literary fame, although like many writers it was not enough to quit his day job for up to a few years. later (Wired just posted a profile on him). But by then, he had caught the attention of Lee, who came up with a new project: a collaborative book where the two would come together to create a fictional future informed by facts and realistic extrapolation.

The result is “AI 2041”: 10 Qiufan stories set in the year of the title, all over the world, with people from all walks of life encountering AI in the many ways the authors believe it could shape society in the world. over the next two decades. Each is followed by an explanatory essay by Lee that discusses the technical aspects and the reasons why they could lead to this future.

I will be posting a full review of the book ahead of the event, but I can definitely say this is unlike any collection I’ve read before. Each story is independent but takes place in something like a shared world, and each illustrates a potential application, conflict, or shift in thinking that AI could lead to. And, above all, AI is recognizable as a direct descendant of existing technologies.

For example, one story is about a talented deepfake maker working in Lagos who knows the ins and outs of generative accusatory networks, image inspection, media channels, and more. He’s tasked with creating a video of a long-dead celebrity that not only fools the people watching it, but the hosting service’s automated scanners, government facial recognition algorithms and everything in between – but he’s starting to suspect that there is some unsavory motive behind it all (I won’t spoil the rest).

What follows the story is Lee’s essay on GANs, Facial Recognition, and Deepfakes which explains the concepts in an understandable but non-patronizing way, then explores the risks and rewards in a non-narrative way. It helps to anchor the stories as real possibilities, and not just in imaginary situations.

With both Qiufan and Lee on stage (practically this time), the discussion of the book and the issues it raises should be lively, not least because it will be moderated by yours truly. But to attend this session, you will need to purchase a pass to attend Disrupt which runs September 21-23. Get yours today for under $ 100 for a limited time!


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