'A.I. is not gonna replace people,' says Salesforce executive

  • Artificial intelligence is likely to be a "big help" rather than a "hindrance," according to Peter Schwartz, senior vice president of strategic planning at Salesforce.
  • Instead of thinking about the "most mundane things," AI would allow people to "focus" on issues such as creativity and interpersonal skills, Schwartz told CNBC.

Artificial intelligence is "a big help, not a hindrance," according to a Salesforce executive.

"AI is not gonna replace people," Peter Schwartz, senior vice president of strategic planning at Salesforce, told CNBC on Tuesday at the Singapore FinTech Festival.

On the flip side, Schwartz added: "It's going to make people far more capable."

Instead of thinking about the "most mundane things," Schwartz said AI would allow people to "focus" on issues such as creativity and interpersonal skills.

Schwartz's comments on the impact of AI were in line with a report from the World Economic Forum in September, which said developments in automation technologies and artificial intelligence could result in 58 million net new jobs being created by 2022.

"We have smartphones today, but it began with the Blackberry and the Palm Pilot which was pretty crude, but you got a hint of what was to come," he said, using the development of the smartphone industry as a parallel example for where he sees the future of artificial intelligence.

In a similar manner, personal digital assistants such as Amazon's Alexa and Apple's Siri are "the beginnings of a next wave," he added.

Trade war impact on A.I. development

Asked about the potential impact of the trade war on AI development, Schwartz said: "I think this is a really big issue and I'm quite concerned."

Artificial intelligence is an area where both countries are already competing fiercely — to the point that some Silicon Valley investors have previously expressed concerns that China's tech sector will eat their lunch.

Chinese start-ups working on artificial intelligence are already attracting more funding than their American counterparts. Last year, they received 48 percent of global AI funding compared to 38 percent in the U.S., according to CB Insights.

Beijing has previously said it wants to become the world leader in AI by 2030. Local tech companies like Baidu, Alibaba, Tencent, ride-hailing firm Didi Chuxing, on-demand services provider Meituan Dianping are already working extensively on various fields of AI.

"Everybody can win" in the field of AI, Schwartz said. "This is something that everybody can share, and use in very effective ways."

Commenting on the ongoing U.S.-China tariff dispute, Schwartz expressed a desire to see the two economic powerhouses "return to a world of partnership rather than conflict."

"I'd rather it not be a fight. I'd rather find new ways of collaboration," he said.

— CNBC's Saheli Roy Choudhury contributed to this report.