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June 25 2015

Live from Cannes: ‘Sentience: The Coming AI Revolution’


Account director at Rocket and Get me Canned winner, Lucy Magem, writes about ‘Sentience: The Coming AI Revolution’ at the Cannes International Festival of Creativity.

Today I had the privilege of hearing the thoughts of Sir Tim Berners-Lee, the creator of the World Wide Web, at Sentience: The Coming AI Revolution. This was the first time Sir Tim had shared his views, and you could feel the anticipation in the auditorium.

PHD’s very own Mike Cooper set the scene with a great overview and certainly got everyone’s attention by sharing that AI, which will affect us all, is only 15 years away! He also shared that $27 billion has been invested into AI to date and that many big corporations are already taking it very seriously. However, for most of us it probably seems like a lifetime away.

It was fascinating to watch Sir Tim’s mind work as he tried to share all of his thoughts on a variety of interesting future scenarios from machine translation to Virtual Personal Assistants to the benefits of driver-less cars. I found his views on data particularly interesting, as he confessed he is always pushing people to put data on the web and highlighted that ‘my data is much more valuable to me than to you’ – ultimately he urged that data is a big part of what we need in an intelligent world and that people should not fear it.

It was inspiring to hear from someone so intelligent but also so passionate about his sector. However, the talk did not come without its warnings as Sir Tim discusses AI’s having emotions and being able to react to this. He warned that we should not assume AI will come in the human form (as we all probably think of typical Hollywood style AI in the form of iRobot or The Terminator) and posed the question to the audience of what will happen if powerful AI’s are not just wandering around in the human form?

The final piece of advice was for us all to ensure that robots are not given the same rights as humans as this will, undoubtedly, be time to put the brakes on.

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