Samsung Downplays AI Fears, Will Invest $22B Through 2022

Samsung Electronics CEO Hyunsuk Kim took the stage at this year's IFA show to reassure crowds that people should "feel like they have control over the future" in regards to artificial intelligence and related technologies, and also to announce that the company has put aside $22 billion for AI research and development through the next three years. This is on top of the $14 billion that the company has spent in the last year. That sizeable budget will be used in AI efforts outside of Bixby and on fringe AI technologies like novel uses for deep learning and machine learning, though Samsung has yet to make any specific announcements regarding to allotment of the cash.

Speaking in a sweeping sort of sense about where Samsung's AI sights are set, Kim touched on the fact that voice-controlled smart devices, as well as voice assistants in more centralized devices like smartphones and computers, see somewhere upwards of 600 million unique users per year, and that number will only grow from here. Samsung's own assistant, Bixby, can be found on the company's flagship phones, and is at the heart of a new smart speaker project. That means it's a safe bet that at least some of that research fund will be spent on improving Bixby. Samsung is also involved in self-driving cars, manufacturing, and other ventures wherein AI could prove beneficial, so it's anybody's guess where else that budget could end up going.

Many experts have spent the past few years warning the general public that AI technology can be dangerous, and international authorities have even worked on putting together regulations to stop the technology from changing the face of warfare in a way that mankind wouldn't benefit from. Samsung's uses for AI seem innocuous at present, but that's not to say that big tech companies used to producing consumer-facing solutions are entirely without risk; Google, for example, recently stepped down from Project Maven, a US Department of Defense contract that had the search giant helping to give drones the ability to analyze captured footage on the fly to seek out and identify human faces. Such technology could very easily be used for war, and should the worst of the science fiction-esque predictions come true and AI tech turn against us, it could theoretically be used to hunt down targets with startling ease. That is just one of many potential examples that leave experts, leaders and authorities of all sorts at odds about just how dangerous AI is and how it should be approached.

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