The Big Interview

Cybersecurity expert discusses emergence of AI and facial recognition in China

Renowned blockchain and AI expert Jorge Sebastiao reveals how facial recognition cameras work in China and the impact of AI on the job market

Coin Rivet had the chance to speak with AI and cybersecurity expert Jorge Sebastiao at last week’s Malta AI and Blockchain Summit, where he revealed the extent of how artificial intelligence will impact society.

During our talk, blockchain and cybersecurity expert Sebastiao claimed that “AI is already creating other AI” and that facial recognition is currently working in tandem with road traffic cameras in Shenzhen, China.

Facial recognition

“We do have some projects that are quite sophisticated. In China specifically, there is one called ‘Traffic Brain’ in Shenzhen. What the project is actually doing is not only recognising a car going through the red light, the cameras are also doing face recognition, which means they will know the identity of the driver that passed the red lights. So it’s a combination of license plate recognition as well as face recognition,” Sebastiao told Coin Rivet.

He then revealed that while the technology will effectively do the role of a traffic cop, it will act as more of an assistant than a replacement.

He continued: “AI is complimenting the job of the traffic cop instead of replacing traffic cops. They have limited time and effort so they’ll be diverted to other more important tasks.”

Impact of AI on job market

The rise of artificial technology has fallen under intense scrutiny in recent years, with concerns being raised over the wider impact on the job market.

When asked whether AI will have a negative impact on humans and their respective jobs, Sebastiao replied: “I don’t think so, but I do think AI as a technology is going to replace humans doing repetitive jobs.”

He continued: “Some of these repetitive jobs where people aren’t needed, for example coding; today people that code might think this job will become obsolete because the AI will code faster and better than traditional coders. However, AI cannot replace every job, and AI is going to create new jobs that didn’t exist before.”

One of the new job roles that will be created is validators. This role will see humans checking and validating the decisions of AI systems.

“Now this requires a lot of people and requires a lot of manual human intervention,” he added.

AI creating other AI

One of the most daunting prospects of artificial intelligence is the concept of AI creating other AI.

“That is actually already happening,” Sebastiao claimed. “It’s only in experimental stages, but it’s correct; AI is creating other AI.”

He continued: “It’s not necessarily in the way we think, but one of the examples is machine learning. What happens is that an expert human is training the machine. Let’s say I’m a chess player and I want to teach the AI to play chess. I would answer every possible outcome and the computer would learn. However, quite recently we went beyond chess. There’s a game called ‘Go’. The difference between both is that chess has a very large number of permutations, but Go, which is an Asian game, has got a million more permutations than chess.

“It would be very difficult for a human to actually program or teach every single position to the computer. So in this case, created by Google, it means that AI is actually teaching itself new strategies on how to play Go. That’s how AI was able to build one of the strongest players around the world.”

Blockchain in the Middle East

The discussion with the Middle East-based AI and cybersecurity expert took place on the sunny Mediterranean island of Malta, where delegates got together to discuss the rise in blockchain and AI technology.

“The conference has been quite interesting,” Sebastiao added. “It is a great place to network with colleagues. We have close to a hundred people from the Middle East that made it over.”

Sebastiao is based in Dubai and believes the hype around blockchain technology is growing massively in the Middle East.

“It has been growing quite a lot for the last 10 years, primarily in the last five years,” he said.

“When I say blockchain, I mean blockchain being used by governments, entities like Dubai and Bahrain. It allows them to integrate this technology of trust and transparency in their modernisation efforts. There has also been some legislation passed in Bahrain, for example the sandbox that went through a few months ago.

“That means we have legal, regional, regulated cryptocurrency exchanges operating that are tied to traditional banking systems, so it’s an evolution of fintech technology. But beyond that it’s being used in many applications, governments, shipping, health care. You need that extra touch of trust.”

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