Discussion on AI, Big Data, STEM & innovation with Prof Tony Chan

Celebrating Prof Tony Chan birthday with Caltech and Stanford Alumni in Hong Kong

Recently I had a chance to attend a discussion with Prof Tony Chan, President HKUST, on AI, Big Data, STEM & Innovation. Here are some notes and take-aways:


1. We are in the middle of AI race, which is happening between China and the USA. China is ahead.

China Has Overtaken the U.S. In AI Research (source)

2. AI (AlphaGo Lee) taught AI (AlphaGo Zero) how to play game AlphaGo and AlphaGo Zero won without human data!

Here we introduce an algorithm based solely on reinforcement learning, without human data, guidance or domain knowledge beyond game rules. AlphaGo becomes its own teacher: a neural network is trained to predict AlphaGo’s own move selections and also the winner of AlphaGo’s games (source - Nature)
3. AI can diagnose better than human

Source: AI vs Doctors – IEEE Spectrum

4. Existential questions for scientists:
  • Will AI replace scientists?
  • Can you rediscover law of physics given enough data?
  • Can AI have morality?
Role of university:
  • a place to learn basics (do not learn recent developments, because by the time student graduate - that knowledge might become obsolete)
  • an environment to experiment with ideas
Prof Tony Chan speaking at Stanford Club of Hong Kong

Why Israel is a startup nation:
  • Jewish kids are taught to question authority (parents ask kids: "Did you ask any question today?")
  • National security and military experience: they go to army before university and while entering the uni they are much more mature
  • Strong social network - support system: Israel startup ecosystem is tied to the USA ecosystem
On Hong Kong culture:
Hong Kong is one of the most conservative places I have ever lived... The biggest challenge for us is culture. 
On Innovation: 

Hong Kong got some elements of successful startup ecosystem, but not all. Shenzhen got some, but not all. Hong Kong + Shenzhen is a winning combination.  
Prof Tony Chan views on innovation

Special thanks to Queenie Lee for organising!


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