Kai-Fu Lee and Chen Qiufan will share their vision of our AI-powered future at Disrupt – TechCrunch

Visionary investors have been on stage before. Science fiction authors have also been onstage, but not at the same moment. A unique collection of essays and stories that makes an optimistic prediction about our AI-infused future has been created by this pair. Sinovation founder Kai Fu Lee, author of Waste Tide, and others Chen Qiufan join us at Disrupt (September 22-23), for a discussion on the fiction and facts of today's most hottest technology.
Lee was born in Taiwan. He attended CMU, where he obtained a PhD. In computer science, he worked initially on speech recognition, before moving to work for Apple, SGI, Microsoft, and finally, to establish Google China as its president. Since its inception in 2009, Sinovation, his investment and research company (originally Innovation Works), has been his main focus. He has become an influential figure and leader in AI.

Lee stated that China was catching up with the U.S. in AI research and had even surpassed it when we last spoke to him at Disrupt SF 2018. His own investments certainly contributed to this. He has been thinking about the future since then and found Chen Qiufan to be a friend.

Qiufan, a Chinese author, is best known for his 2013 novel Waste Tide. However, unlike many other authors, it wasn't enough to get him out of his job until several years later. Wired just did a profile. Lee noticed him and proposed a novel project. It would be a book in which the two of them would collaborate to create a fictional future based on factual extrapolation.

AI 2041 is the result. It contains 10 stories by Qiufan, set in the year titled. People from all walks of the life will encounter AI in the many ways the authors believe it might shape society in the coming decades. Lee provides an explanation essay that explains the technical aspects of each story and how they may lead to that future.

The book is unique in that it has a complete review, which I will be sharing before the event. Each story is unique but takes place within a larger context. They each show how AI might be applied to a problem, create conflict, or make a difference in the way we think. Importantly, AI can be recognized as a descendant of existing technologies.

One story is about a deepfake creator from Lagos who knows all the tricks of image inspection, generative adversarial networks and media pathways. The task is to create a video of a celebrity who has passed away. It fools everyone, not only the viewers but also the automated scanners used by the government facial recognition algorithms. But he starts to suspect that there's something more.

The story continues with Lee's essay on GANs and facial recognition. It explains the concepts clearly but is not too patronizing. Lee then discusses the risks and rewards in a non-narrative manner. This helps to ground the stories and not only imagine situations.

Qiufan Lee and Lee will both be on stage (virtually) so the discussion about the book and the issues that it raises should be lively. It will also be moderated and moderated by me. You will need to get a pass for Disrupt September 21-23 to be able to see this session. Grab yours now for $100, and only for a short time!