Samsung has substantial plans for the future of both its own AI and the use of the technology worldwide but that needs to be approached with a sense of purpose and ethical responsibility, according to Samsung Electronics President Young Sohn. Speaking for an interview with Business Insider, following a keynote speech on the topic at Web Summit 2018, the executive expressed excitement at how far the level of interconnectivity between people and devices has already come. There are 340 trillion-trillion-trillion IP addresses already in use around the world with most of those tied into mobile devices and similar technologies, Mr. Young Sohn said, and those are collecting an increasing amount of information. For Samsung, the hope is that trend will eventually lead to veritable “biodata banks” that contain information pertaining to details of individuals’ lives from “genomes to phenomes.” More succinctly, the company hopes that analysis and collection of data ranging from user traits such as eye color or demographics to genetic information and less obvious patterns in behavior and preferences.
That data will be useful under a wide number of circumstances from diagnosing and treating health conditions to making better-personalized recommendations and more, the executive says, allowing AI to truly augment users lives’ for the better. However, Mr. Young Sohn also admits that there are legitimate concerns surrounding that vision for the future. Primarily, the risks associated with storing that much data and utilizing AI to analyze it can be linked back to privacy and security. As the executive points out, for comparison, Samsung devices typically only store user data on their handset but the future he’s talking about requires much higher levels of connection and accessibility. In short, it will need to exist on a global scale. Bearing that in mind, there is also a need to approach the technology from an ethically-away perspective. Referred by the source to Chinese policies and systems currently in place that tracks and limits citizens based on their credit score and debt, Samsung’s President indicated that it will ultimately be up to private companies and technologists to review how AI and data storage are used. Those involved in building out solutions within those fields, he continued, need to be mindful that the technology can be abused and appropriately careful.
Background: Mr. Young Sohn’s sentiments are complemented by the company’s ambitions as expressed at this year’s Samsung Developer Conference (SDC) 2018, currently taking place in San Francisco. The company announced at the event that it’s own AI innovations, encompassed under the umbrella of incoming changes to Bixby, are now set to be taken to an entirely new level. Specifically, the company has officially unveiled a new suite of developer tools and opened up the platform for use in third-party devices and by third-party developers. That’s in addition to its promise to include Bixby in each of its products by the year 2020 and expansions planned for the same timeframe with regard to its own AI teams. In total, the Korean tech giant has said it will be hiring no fewer than 1,000 AI experts by that year and that it will invest $22 billion to fund research and development. By taking advantage of its more than 500 million products sold annually and those developed by other manufacturers, Samsung hopes to surpass the comparatively limited scope of Amazon’s Alexa or Google Assistant to begin pushing towards its envisioned AI-powered future.
Impact: For the time being, the advantages of bringing together AI and big data collection highlighted by Samsungs President and CSO aren’t likely to materialize in real-world usage anytime soon. In effect, the systems needed to accomplish those goals are still too fragmented and still very much in their infancy. That’s in spite of the potential brought about by several relatively big breakthroughs in the industry over the past couple of years, such as Google’s continued pursuit of AI as a viable approach to cancer detection and disease prediction. It’s also in spite of persistent calls from industry leaders to unify at least some of the technology under interoperability-enabling standards, including Samsung’s own efforts on that front. Having said that, Mr. Young Sohn’s statements appear to indicate that Samsung is not taking those risks lightly, at very least.