The world is full of humans. Do we need machines to act human too?

Posted on : 2024-06-13 17:04 KST Modified on : 2024-06-13 17:04 KST
A review of this year’s Hankyoreh Human & Digital Forum, held on Wednesday June 12, where experts gathered to weigh in on pressing questions posed by AI
Ted Chiang presents at the 3rd Hankyoreh Human & Digital Forum held at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry building in Seoul’s Jung District on June 12, 2024. (Kim Young-won/The Hankyoreh)
Ted Chiang presents at the 3rd Hankyoreh Human & Digital Forum held at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry building in Seoul’s Jung District on June 12, 2024. (Kim Young-won/The Hankyoreh)

How does it serve humankind to create human-like artificial intelligence when there are already so many human beings in the world?

A hush came over the audience when the question was posed on Wednesday by science fiction novelist Ted Chiang, keynote speaker at the 3rd Hankyoreh Human & Digital Forum.

That was a moment of tacit communication, the kind of moment that University of Washington professor Choi Yejin, another keynote speaker at the forum, said is only comprehensible to humans, and beyond the ken of AI.

The forum, which was attended by around 300 people, was hosted by the Hankyoreh Media Group and organized by the Hankyoreh Economy and Society Research Institute and the Hankyoreh Human Digital Research Institute. It was held on the theme of “The AI Desiring to Go Beyond Human, Can It Capture Even Human Values?” The forum attracted considerable attention, with tickets selling out in advance, because of the rare chance to see these experts speaking together.

Choi Woo-seong, publisher of the Hankyoreh, said he hoped the forum would encourage “wise reflection upon what makes us human as we face the powerful tool of AI.”

Choi Yejin, who delivered the first keynote address at the forum, spoke about the “need for research into an alternative paradigm for generative AI” in a conversation with Ha Jung-woo, director of Naver’s Future AI Center.

Ted Chiang speaks with SKKU professor Kim Beom-jun at the 3rd Hankyoreh Human & Digital Forum held at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry building in Seoul’s Jung District on June 12, 2024. (Kim Young-won/The Hankyoreh)
Ted Chiang speaks with SKKU professor Kim Beom-jun at the 3rd Hankyoreh Human & Digital Forum held at the Korean Chamber of Commerce and Industry building in Seoul’s Jung District on June 12, 2024. (Kim Young-won/The Hankyoreh)

After his keynote address, Ted Chiang remarked that AI cannot be a tool for art because it doesn’t understand anything and has no intentions or desires. The remarks came during Chiang’s dialogue with Kim Beom-jun, a professor at Sungkyunkwan University.

Abeba Birhane, a professor at Trinity College Dublin, noted that Big Tech is pressuring the world with AI, even though that remains a completely opaque “black box.”

Gary Marcus, professor emeritus at New York University, commented on the current difficulty of evaluating generative AI because its training data remains undisclosed.

The forum wrapped up with a round table discussion that all four speakers had been greatly anticipating. The discussion was moderated by KAIST professor Jeon Chi-hyung.

“We will collate the matters discussed today and actively incorporate it into our policy,” said Ryu Kwang-jun, head of the office of science, technology and innovation coordination at Korea’s Ministry of Science and ICT, in a congratulatory address at the forum.

By Lim Ji-sun, staff reporter

Please direct questions or comments to [english@hani.co.kr]

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