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  • Jack Lau

Technology Buzz, Issac Asimov and A.I.

This is probably an interesting time for stock investors in the region. Yesterday, after lunch, when we walked by a local SF Express redistribution center, we saw many couriers staring at their smart phones on the stock prices. True. Not too long ago, you would find them taking a break and either just resting or playing some games on their smart phones.

In fact, more than once, we were told buying stocks like Tencent is such a sure fire way to increase your wealth. And, who could argue with that. Tencent yesterday closed at HK$314, with a P/E of 64. When we first started our blog last year, it was at hovering at about HK$160. Our dear readers, congratulations to you all if you have made your tremendous return. And, if you look a bit further, you see record profit for Samsung, registering a quarterly profit of US$12.6 billion. Mind you, with that kind of profit (not revenue), Samsung alone is richer than many nations in the world. (Macau has a GDP of about US $66 billion).

Given this being the case, one would conclude that parents would love to see their kids going into technology sector. Yet, in the wake of the most recent open examination result release in Hong Kong, the top students (those who get straight A's), unanimously, just like their predecessors, want to go to medical school. Yes, that is every single one of them. More interestingly, a recent survey of young people in Hong Kong reveals that the most desirable job opportunities for them is ---- guess, GOVERNMENT civil servant... Wow…

Ok. We will stop this observation for the time being and go back to technology stuff. The vibe in the technology world these days are Artificial Intelligence (A.I.). Readers may have already noticed that we are really not a big fan of buzzword. In fact, buzzwords in the technology sector change faster than Korean pop stars. And, often time, once something become a hot buzzword, then everything a person does suddenly becomes part of this movement, as if they have known for years and have the prescience that no other living soul has.

We are from the old school. When we think of A.I., we think of Issac Asimov, and of course the Three Rules of Robots:

  1. A robot may not injure a human being or, through inaction, allow a human being to come to harm.

  2. A robot must obey the orders given it by human beings except where such orders would conflict with the First Law.

  3. A robot must protect its own existence as long as such protection does not conflict with the First or Second Laws

So pardon us, if we have a more traditional view of A.I. So, if you type something on a chat box, and a computer generates a pre-defined answer to you that is not A.I. of the sort that should "wow" you. That is just a simple stack of "if-then-else statements" or a "case statements". Of course, one can argue that a sophisticated robot is just a bunch of rule based instructions as well. But, hey, the level of sophistication is so different, it is like saying we picking up a Lonely Planet Spanish phase book and we are now a Spanish language professor.

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