Google CEO Sundar Pichai said Friday in a TV show that Artificial Intelligence (AI) is more important to humanity than fire or electricity.
“AI is one of the most important things humanity is working on. It’s more profound than, I don’t know, electricity or fire,” Pichai said in the MSNBC show.
He explained that fire, which can cause disaster, was eventually harnessed by people for the benefit of humanity.
Acknowledging some concerns about AI taking over the world one day, Pichai said there is a “balance” between the technology’s downsides and upsides.
“It’s fair to be worried about AI,” he said. “We want to be thoughtful about it.”
At the same time, AI “holds the potential of some of the biggest advances we are going to see,” he said, naming climate change solutions and cancer treatment as areas where AI could be applied to in the future.
AI has become the buzzword of 2017 as tech firms, from promising startups to big-name firms such as Google and Facebook, are investing heavily in AI technology.
Google forked out over 500 million U.S. dollars in 2016 to acquire the London-headquartered DeepMind, the creator of AlphaGo that is focused on machine learning.
The stunning power of AI shocked the world last year when Google’s AlphaGo beat South Korea’s Lee Sedol, an 18-time world champion in the board game of Go.
In December, Google also announced the establishment of a new AI research center in Beijing, the first of its kind in Asia.