Public fears about artificial intelligence are 'not the fault of A.I.' itself, tech exec says

Key Points
  • Consumer worries relating to AI include concerns about personal privacy and how the systems may get out of control , said Song Zhang, managing director for China at global software consultancy, ThoughtWorks.
  • Zhang was speaking during a panel discussion discussing the "Future of AI" at CNBC's East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.
Rong Luo, CFO of TAL Education Group, Doranda Doo, SVP of iFLYTEK Co. Ltd. and Song Zhang, Managing Director of Thoughtworks China on Day 2 of CNBC East Tech West at LN Garden Hotel Nansha Guangzhou on November 19, 2019 in Nansha, Guangzhou, China.
Zhong Zhi | Getty Images News | Getty Images

The technology industry and policymakers need to address public concerns about artificial intelligence (AI) which are "not the fault of AI" itself, a tech executive said Tuesday.

"It is the fault of developers, so we need to solve this problem," said Song Zhang, managing director for China at global software consultancy, ThoughtWorks.

Consumer worries relating to AI include concerns about personal privacy and how the systems may get out of control, said Zhang during a panel discussion discussing the "Future of AI" at CNBC's East Tech West conference in the Nansha district of Guangzhou, China.

It is the duty of the tech industry and policymakers to focus on, discuss and solve such problems, said Zhang in Mandarin, according to a CNBC translation. Indeed, while consumers are curious about AI when they first come into contact with the technology, their mindset changes over time, said Rong Luo, chief financial officer of TAL Education Group.

"The first phase is everyone finds it refreshing, they like something new, they want to give it a try," said Luo.

But "in phase two, people start to care a lot about their privacy, their security," Luo added.

And finally, after "one to two years of adjustments, we (have) now entered phase three, we have a more objective view of the technology. We do not put (it) on the pedestal nor do we demonize it," said Luo.

Panelists at the session acknowledged the potential of AI in various fields such as language translation and education.

"Technology is here to assist them, empower them. We want to free them from those repetitive and meaningless work (tasks) so they have more energy and time for other more creative jobs," said Doranda Doo, senior vice president of Chinese artificial intelligence firm iFlytek.

"So I think what's the most powerful is not AI itself, but people who are empowered by AI," Doo said.