Plenary 4 AI and the future of work
AI and the future of work
- Ann Mei CHANG Chief Executive Officer, Candid
- FANG Jin Vice Chairman and Secretary General, China Development Research Foundation
- LIU Qin Deputy Secretary-General, Tencent Charity Foundation and Product Owner, Tencent Charity Platform
- Harry SHUM Chairman of the Council, The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology
- Albert WONG Chief Executive Officer, Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation
The plenary discussion on AI and the future of work began with the panellists appreciating the progress AI has made over the years and acknowledging the implications it brings for the future.
While everyone noted that many jobs may get displaced (including what we consider “white collar jobs’), Ms Ann Mei Chang, Chief Executive Officer of Candid, explained how people should not worry about having fewer jobs but rather focus on equipping themselves to secure newer jobs that may arise in the future. She also noted that AI is progressing rapidly and will accelerate the speed of progress and therefore we as a society need to figure out how best we can deal with that change. Dr Fang Jin, Vice Chairman and Secretary General of China Development Research Foundation reflected that like any other technology, AI will also lead to efficiency gains that will advance economic growth and create newer jobs.
Ms Liu Qin, Deputy Secretary-General of Tencent Charity Foundation and Product Owner of Tencent Charity Platform, noted that there are several opportunities of AI including enhanced worker efficiency, faster fraud detection, and smarter investment decision-making. Ms Chang reflected on how AI on a societal level can also provide access to education, healthcare, and other services for people who have traditionally had limited or no access.
However, all panellists noted that if not managed appropriately, AI can significantly exacerbate inequality. Prof Harry Shum, Chairman of the Council of The Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, and Ms Chang shared how access and benefits of AI would initially be reaped by the top 1% as we have seen in history for other innovations. The moderator of the session Mr Albert Wong, Chief Executive Officer of Hong Kong Science and Technology Parks Corporation, cautioned that this may lead to a stage where “the rich become richer and the poor become poorer, but faster”. Prof Shum also noted how AI is likely to perpetuate and further biases and called out the need for us to not just develop technology but also the tools that can ensure its equitable use.
Dr Fang noted how philanthropy can play a role here as innovators and advocators and use its flexible capital to establish proofs of concept that governments can then adopt for large scale distribution. Prof Shum explained that governments and philanthropies can help redistribute wealth and enable equitable access. Ms Liu also reflected that AI could enable more people to give, increasing the resources the world has.