Andrew Ng: Why AI is the new electricity

Andrew Ng
Andrew Ng

Artificial intelligence already powers many of our interactions today. When you ask Siri for directions, peruse Netflix’s recommendations or get a fraud alert from your bank, these interactions are led by computer systems using large amounts of data to predict your needs.

The market is only going to grow. By 2020, the research firm IDC predicts that AI will help drive worldwide revenues to over $47 billion, up from $8 billion in 2016.

Still, Coursera co-founder ANDREW NG, adjunct professor of computer science, says fears that AI will replace humans are misplaced: “Despite all the hype and excitement about AI, it’s still extremely limited today relative to what human intelligence is.”

Ng, who is chief scientist at Baidu Research, spoke to the Graduate School of Business community as part of a series presented by the Stanford MSx Program, which offers experienced leaders a one-year, full-time learning experience. In 2011 Ng led the development of Stanford’s main MOOC (massive open online courses) platform and also taught an online machine learning class that was offered to over 100,000 students, leading to the founding of Coursera. Baidu is a Chinese language search engine.

He discussed why AI gets a bad reputation, what reputation it actually deserves and how we need to rethink our education system to prepare.

Electricity changed how the world operated. It upended transportation, manufacturing, agriculture and health care. AI is poised to have a similar impact, he said. Information technology, web search and advertising are already being powered by artificial intelligence. It decides whether we’re approved for a bank loan. It helps us order a pizza and estimates our wait time. It even tells the driver where to deliver it. Other areas ripe for AI impact: financial technology, logistics, health care, security and transportation.

“Just as electricity transformed almost everything 100 years ago, today I actually have a hard time thinking of an industry that I don’t think AI will transform in the next several years,” Ng said.

Read more on the Graduate School of Business website.