English 4.0: The next Big Thing

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    Erin Perry: Welcome, Eamonn. Your latest English 4.0 column is about artificial intelligence. Why is it that people find this topicThematopic so fascinating?

    Fitzgerald: Probably because it’s very much in the news at the moment. It’s in films, it’s in books, it’s in news reports. And a lot of the coverageBerichterstattungcoverage is somewhat negative, and so people are alarmed by the idea of artificial intelligence. And I suppose at this point it might be good to explain to the listeners what exactly artificial intelligence is. Now, humans are intelligent, we’re intelligent. We are the most intelligent species. Doesn’t mean that animals are not intelligent. Birds can sing a limited number of songs. Dogs can have a limited number of barkBellen; hier: Belllautebarks. But the humans are able to make an endless amount of sentences. And that is the difference. So with artificial intelligence we’re talking about making machines so clever that they will be theoretically, at some point, as intelligent as humans. And that’s where another term, machine learning, plays a role, because at the moment, we programme computer to do things, to do yes-no, on-off calculations, instructions. With machine learning, we will be able to create machines that can programme themselves and then create what we call artificial intelligence. And the big debate will be, for example, in the future, we will have situations… consider at the moment, Saudi Arabia is volatileunbeständig; hier: instabilvolatile, Australia is stablestabilstable. And if we look at the financial and commodities marketRohstoffmarktcommodities markets, what would happen if we had machines that can do millions of calculations every second and make decisions about investing. How will that change the world that we have, that we know, where humans, with all their positive and negative aspects, make decisions, sometimes successful, sometimes unsuccessful. And into this world, we will bring the power of artificial intelligence.


    Perry: How will artificial intelligence to affect sth.sich auf etw. auswirkenaffect our jobs and our work?

    Fitzgerald: It is still too early to tell, but we know that what can be automated will be automated. And when we speak like that, immediately people think, “oh, he’s talking about a factory, he’s talking about people making cars and now robots make cars”. But the fact is that many accountantBuchhalter(in)accountants prepare endless Excel tableTabelletables and spreadsheetTabellenkalkulationspreadsheets. That can all be done by an intelligent system. Or many lawyers to draft sth.etw. entwerfen, ausarbeitendraft basic documents again and again and again, for contracts, be they simple or complicated. That can all be done by an intelligent system. At the moment, many journalists are paid very good money to get corporate reportKonzernberichtcorporate reports each quarterQuartalquarter and look through the profit and loss and the dividend and then write a story. That can be done by a machine. It’s just about reading numbers and putting some basic language around those numbers. So, what is coming is the automation of jobs where human intelligence is required and, after that, there will be a debate in society about which jobs can be protected from this avalancheLawineavalanche of change. Perhaps, the job of a nurseKrankenpfleger(in)nurse will not change for a long time. A nurse has to communicate with patients, make instant decisions based upon how I look, how I feel. The nurse is constantly reading data from a human. Or a musician who has to write a song. Yes, maybe simple language can be produced by an artificial intelligence in this phase. But a song about revolution, a song about Brexit, a song about Donald Trump? Can those be written by machines? Perhaps. But I think what we will see in the near future is a lot of general artificial intelligence in business and, after that, very narrowhier: aufgabenspezifischnarrow artificial intelligence focusing on specific tasks such as learning a language or operating a vehicleFahrzeugvehicle on Mars. And we’ll be to cover sth.hier: über etw. berichtencovering these stories in the English 4.0 column in the coming years.