Key learnings from the closing speech by Jacques Attali, Writer and President Attali Associates, at the Adopt AI Summit by Artefact - June 5, 2024

He is a French economist, writer, and senior civil servant. He served as a special advisor to French President François Mitterrand from 1981 to 1991. Attali founded and led the European Bank for Reconstruction and Development (EBRD) and has authored numerous books on diverse subjects, including economics, history, and sociology. He is also the founder of Positive Planet, an organization focused on promoting sustainable development worldwide. Attali is renowned for his influential thoughts on globalization, technology, and future societal trends.

AI must be understood within the context of history. It’s another step in the long tradition of processing and automating information, a process that began at least in the 17th century. Today, we call it artificial intelligence, but it has been known as deep learning, machine learning, or robotics over the years. This progression in automating information is crucial for mankind, whose progress has always hinged on advancements in energy and information.

AI is a precursor to even more transformative technologies that will shape the future, such as digital biology, biomimicry, and quantum computing. Digital biology uses AI in genetics, heralding significant health transformations. Biomimicry, which imitates nature, holds vast potential for innovation.

“AI could be immensely useful in the economy of life—health, education, renewable energy, safe and regenerative agriculture, recycling, and more. These uses represent a huge potential for AI.”
Jacques Attali, Writer & President Attali Associates

Quantum computing also promises to revolutionize thinking, speed, and human-machine interactions in the coming decades. It is an enormous field of development that will transform the way we think, and the capacity to transform the relationship between human beings and machines.

Two key dimensions of AI are particularly noteworthy. First is predictive maintenance, which enhances our ability to predict events based on historical data. This capability is invaluable in industrial applications, where analyzing data can prevent failures, breakdowns, leaks, and anomalies, thus transforming industrial systems and significantly reducing energy consumption.

The second dimension is generative AI. While it has promising applications in entertainment, translation, and FAQs, it is less reliable for critical tasks requiring high accuracy. Trust in generative AI can remain low due to some current limitations and potential environmental impact. However, AI, like all technologies, is a tool that can be used for good or ill. It can enhance harmful activities such as oil drilling and the creation of addictive products, or it can support the economy of life, including health, education, renewable energy, sustainable agriculture, recycling, and more. The potential for positive impact in these areas is immense.

The use of AI should focus on beneficial applications. If used for destructive purposes, it is a disaster; if used for life-enhancing purposes, it is wonderful. The future success of AI will depend on nurturing the best talents. In France, we have incredible talent in these fields, and it is crucial to pay them well, retain them, and train them. Recent reforms that deter young girls from pursuing engineering careers are alarming and must be reversed. Losing this talent pool will weaken the field of AI in the future. Thus, training, fair compensation, and ethical practices are essential for the advancement of AI.

Understanding the historical context of AI, focusing on its beneficial uses, and fostering talent with ethical standards are key to leveraging AI for a better future.

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