Ren Zhengfei, CEO and founder of Huawei, hosted an open discussion alongside other prominent guests, examining the role of innovation and trust in the future of the information, communication and technology (ICT) sector. He emphasised that there is no need to feel uneasy about the rapid and unpredictable growth of technology.

AI will fundamentally change how the international community develops: Huawei Founder
Ren Zhengfei, CEO and Founder of Huawei

He stated that of all the quantum leaps in technology, AI will be the most prominent and impactful. He believes that countries will find new ways of implementing AI, which has the capability to bring disruptive changes to whichever field it is applied.

He was joined on the panel by computer scientist, futurist, and serial entrepreneur Jerry Kaplan; Professor Peter Cochrane OBE, innovator, academic, and consultant, and Zhang Wenlin, President of Corporate Strategy Department, Huawei. 

“AI is not magic. It’s not really about intelligence at all. It’s simply a new wave of automation. To understand what’s going to happen with AI, you simply have to look at previous waves of automation. While automation disrupts labor markets, it doesn’t cause the jobs to disappear. New jobs will be created. As we become wealthier, demand will be created. We get a new middle class and new demands for goods and services. And in fact, automation will change the nature of labor, not put people out of work.” said Kaplan when asked about AI’s impact on society

In the recent years, the levels of trust in technology, specially, AI and now 5G have been challenged. In this regard, Zhengfei said – “They are worried that AI will cause unemployment, disrupt social structures, and distort our ethics. They worry too much. Advancements in technology have helped us create more wealth. 5G itself is a tool, just like the ballast beds that train tracks are laid on. That’s all it is about. People should have more trust and tolerance towards new things. The most prominent feature of innovation is that it gives everyone academic freedom, allowing people to explore.” 

When asked about what can be done to solve this trust issue along people, Zhang Wenlin said- “I think the best way forward is to have an open discussion about the nature and stages of technology with people like sociologists, scientists, regulators, and tech companies. With more dialogue among industry players, I think we will work out a trustworthy management framework based on a more reasonable and clear understanding of technology. Then we will help more people understand technology and see it in a rational way. As tech companies, we should do everything in our power to take on complexity ourselves, enable our users to understand the key nature of technology and the rights they have, and give them more choices. This way, we will gradually earn users’ trust and continue building trust from society as a whole.”