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Zhu Songchun, a key figure in AGI research, stresses the importance of human-like ‘hearts’ in AI and the pivotal role of talent in global tech competition.

In an era where artificial intelligence (AI) would permeate every aspect of our society, the quest for General Artificial Intelligence (AGI) has become a global race, with China positioning itself as a frontrunner. AGI, a type of AI designed to understand, learn, and apply knowledge across a wide range of tasks, stands as the next leap in the evolution of intelligent systems.

During the second session of the 14th Chinese People’s Political Consultative Conference (CPPCC), Zhu Songchun, CPPCC member and director of the Beijing Institute for General Artificial Intelligence, emphasized that the key to mastering AGI lies not just in algorithms and computing power, but in cultivating a ‘heart’ for machines. This metaphorical ‘heart’ represents the development of AI that can interact in a more human-like, empathetic manner, transforming how machines serve society.

The unveiling of “Tongtong,” the world’s first AGI personified as a little girl, at the end of January in Beijing, was a testament to the strides being made. Zhu envisions AGI like Tongtong will eventually become integral to our daily lives, addressing challenges such as elderly care by providing services that go beyond mere functionality to offer compassionate companionship.

Zhu’s focus on talent as a crucial factor in winning the global tech competition is reflected in his efforts to nurture a new generation of AI specialists. Over the past three years, he has initiated AGI experimental classes at Peking University and Tsinghua University, gathering the nation’s brightest young minds. Supported by the Ministry of Education, the “Tong Plan” — a joint doctoral training program in AGI — has expanded to include eight universities, fostering a strategic national force in the field.

As China continues to invest heavily in AI research and development, Zhu’s confidence in a unique technological path suited to the country’s conditions is unwavering. He believes in the safe and beneficial growth of AGI, with the potential to make significant contributions to humanity.

The international community watches closely as China advances its AGI initiatives. With ethical considerations and governance of AI being hotly debated, the development of AGI systems like Tongtong raises important questions about the future relationship between humans and machines.

The integration of AI into various sectors, including finance, healthcare, and transportation, is already underway, with blockchain technology often playing a supportive role in securing AI operations. As AGI progresses, its convergence with blockchain could potentially lead to more robust, transparent, and secure AI applications.

This evolving landscape highlights the need for a multidisciplinary approach to AI development, where technology, ethics, and policy intersect. With figures like Zhu Songchun steering the conversation, the world may be on the cusp of an AI revolution that is as much about the ‘heart’ as it is about the ‘mind’ of the technology we create.

As we continue to observe and report on these developments, it’s clear that AGI represents not just a technological advancement but a paradigm shift in our interaction with machines. The journey toward creating AI with a ‘heart’ is sure to be complex and challenging, yet it’s a journey that could redefine the essence of innovation and cooperation in the digital age.

Image source: Shutterstock

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