Jack Ma is concerned about humans in an automated future

08/02/2018

The founder of Alibaba has stated that he worries about automation taking jobs from people, a theme explored in forthcoming film

Alibaba will make a film about the future of robots and humans, a topic the company is well-suited to tackle. The Chinese e-commerce giant has invested heavily in artificial intelligence research worldwide with great success – it’s deep learning neural network just beat humans<> in a Stanford reading test.

In a recent post on Alizila, Alibaba’s news website, Jenny Hsu wrote, “from assembling cellphones to fixing the hard-to-reach parts of your cars to performing surgical procedures, robots serve humans well. But a lingering question remains: what happens when robots develop a personality of their own?”

Mirroring such concerns but leaving the question unanswered, Jack Ma, founder of Alibaba, has also expressed concern about the ability of humans to find work in the years to come, as robots and automation progressively adopt more workforce proficiencies. Alibaba’s AI research is extensive, with a cloud platform that spans multiple continents, and a cloud product that rivals those developed by Amazon and Microsoft.

The forthcoming film, Steel Soldiers, will explore these themes, and features a human soldier who must teach robots to fight alongside their biological counterparts. The protagonist leads this elite army of soldiers on a mission to rescue their robot creator. American Director known for modern classics Back to the Future and Forest Gump, Robert Zemeckis, will direct the film.

Steel Soldiers is the product of an interesting establishment in content production: both Alibaba and its rival, Tencent, have moved into film financing as of late. Alibaba has its own film studio, Alibaba Pictures, which will finance the film with US-led STX Entertainment. Alibaba has also made investments in Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Partners and China’s Wanda Film, while rival tech company Tencent is an investor in STX Entertainment.

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