Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google Inc., speaks during a keynote session at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, March 2, 2015. The event, which generates several hundred million euros in revenue for the city of Barcelona each year, also means the world for a week turns its attention back to Europe for the latest in technology, despite a lagging ecosystem. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images
Sundar Pichai, senior vice president of Android, Chrome and Apps at Google Inc., speaks during a keynote session at the Mobile World Congress in Barcelona, Spain, on Monday, March 2, 2015. The event, which generates several hundred million euros in revenue for the city of Barcelona each year, also means the world for a week turns its attention back to Europe for the latest in technology, despite a lagging ecosystem. Photographer: Simon Dawson/Bloomberg via Getty Images

Artificial Intelligence (AI) will save us not destroy us, Google’s CEO, Sundar Pichai, said at Davos.

“AI is probably the most important thing humanity has ever worked on. I think of it as something more profound than electricity or fire,” he said. “Any time you work with technology, you need to learn to harness the benefits while minimising the downsides.”

While some thinkers – notably Professor Stephen Hawking – have warned that AI could wipe out mankind, Pichai was optimistic. He said that the technology could eliminate many of the constraints we now face, helping us for example to make “clean, cheap, reliable energy” a reality.

Pichai, who grew up in India, spoke of the transformative power of technology.

“Growing up, I didn’t have a phone for a while, I waited five years. We got a telephone, it fundamentally changed our lives… I remember the joys of technology and I think that will be true for AI. It’s important for us to explain that and bring the world along with us.”

He conceded that the risks were “important”, and called for international cooperation on the scale of the Paris climate agreement to manage them.

“Countries need to demilitarize AI, that’s a common goal countries should work towards,” he said.

Google has recently announced it will open AI research centres in China and in France.

source: WEF