During a wide-ranging discussion at Amazon’s re:MARS conference in Las Vegas, Naveen Rao, corporate vice president and general manager of AI at Intel, spoke about machine learning’s rapid progress and the fields it might transform, in addition to the steps he believes must be taken to ensure it’s not abused.

Rao compared the advent of modern AI approaches with the iPhone. Like the iPhone, he said, machine learning — a technique underlying systems from Amazon’s Alexa to Google Lens — wasn’t the first form of AI, but it was nonetheless “exciting” and “consequential.” He characterizes the coming AI revolution as the single largest transition the human species has ever encountered.

“Few people anticipated the big-picture changes that smartphones would bring. No one foresaw that smartphones could make our work day substantially longer because we’d never get away from email,” he said. “No one predicted we might have to ask family members to look up from their device so we could talk to them. No one thought we’d need to teach kids social skills for face-to-face interactions.”

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