Science and Technology

The fine line between reality and the myths of Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain

Técnico hosted the 15th conference organised by the Executive Digest, in partnership with Técnico, which brought together several participants from business and academia.

“One morning is not enough to explore everything we want on this subject,” said Ricardo Florência, CEO of Multipublicações, in the beginning of his speech at the opening session of the 15th conference organised by the Executive Digest, held this Wednesday, November 28, at Técnico. The audience’s expectations were high considering the relevance of the topics addressed – “Artificial Intelligence and Blockchain: Myths and Reality” – and the renowned guest speakers who attended the conference.

Professor Srinivas Devadas, from MIT EECS, explained the two theories behind the new Blockchain-related developments. According to the MIT professor, the perception of this technology must involve a lot of “consensus”, a kind of “Permissionless Byzantine Consensus”, in which professor Srinivas Devadas is working in partnership with Ling Ren – o Solida protocol.

Pedro Pombo, managing director at Accenture Digital, shared a more relaxed perspective with the audience. “Face ID technologies will change the way we live. We are empowering machines to make a decision for us”. “Brands will have to adapt and learn how to take advantage of these new reality”, he said. According to Pedro Pombo, machines will replace us in routine tasks, “thus freeing us to be more human”. “Man vs machine” is a false dichotomy. “We have to think about the relationship man & machine in terms of collaboration and not competitiveness, and that’s why I believe in a cohabitation of man and machine”.

Four representatives of renowned companies – Francisco Duarte (Industry 4.0 Coordinator of Bosch Car Multimedia Portugal), Frederico Vaz (Director of Engineering and Network Operations at Altice Portugal), João Pedro Machado (Director for Transformation at Fidelidade) and José Ataíde (Advisor to the Board – Industry 4.0 at The Navigator Company) participated in a round table moderated by professor Miguel Correia, from Técnico, and explained some of the dynamics followed by their companies, teams and partnerships that have been created in order to innovate and respond to the challenges of digital revolution.

Paula Panarra (General Manager of Microsoft Portugal), António Ramalho (CEO of Novo Banco) and professor Luís Correia, vice-president of Técnico, participated in a debate focused on the reasons of why we fear technology. “It’s normal that we fear technology. We have robots that work faster than humans, 24 hours a day and they don’t need to eat. Everyone knows that this scenario puts jobs at risk, including CEO positions”, said António Ramalho. According to professor Luís Correia, lifelong learning will be a solution: “Técnico+ will upgrade the skills of people who are already in the labour market. Our aim is to train these people in order to prepare them for an automated future”. “The emotional intelligence will became increasingly important” said Paula Panarra. “I honestly think that machines will stimulate men’s inventive ideas”, stressed the General Manager of Microsoft Portugal.

The president of Técnico, professor Arlindo Oliveira, closed the session and highlighted that “AI already exists and will continue to exist and to be developed; Blockchain, in turn, is still looking for its way and it´s something that belongs to the future”. According to the president of Técnico “it’s difficult to predict AI or any technology”. “We tend to overestimate the effect of a technology in the short run and underestimate the effect in the long run”, he said recalling Amara’s law. Professor Arlindo shared some of AI characteristics and demonstrated why machine learning “is a disruptive technology”. “ We must ensure that humans and computers are properly aligned before we reach superintelligence”, said the president of Técnico at the end of his speech.