Blackstone CEO: Western culture basically fits in terms of what we're going to have to do to figure out AI

Blackstone CEO donates $188M to Oxford University

Blackstone CEO Stephen Schwarzman on his donation to Oxford University and the ethics of artificial intelligence.

Stephen Schwarzman, the CEO of Blackstone, a leading global investment firm, made history with an enormous donation to one of the most prestigious collegiate research universities in the world.

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The billionaire is pledging to give $188 million to the University of Oxford to create a center for the humanities to study the threat of artificial intelligence (AI). He said Oxford is the leading humanities faculty and also has the No. 1 ranked philosophy department in the world.

“As I was looking at a project that… the head of Oxford brought to me in late 2017, which was to help them with a building to bring together the humanities faculty for the first time in a thousand years, that which I thought was a good idea,” he told FOX Business’ Maria Bartiromo.

“But what was really compelling, for me, was looking at the way their expertise, their knowledge of humans and humanity and Western culture basically fits in terms of what we're going to have to do to figure out with AI, what you can introduce, how you can introduce it, what appropriate regulations are.”

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The center is going to study the ethics of AI. Some global leaders, including Stephen Hawking, Elon Musk and Bill Gates have warned about the dangers that AI presents. The former president of Google China Kai-Fu Lee, in a recent interview with Bartiromo said 40 percent of jobs would eventually disappear as a result of it. But Schwarzman said “you can't let all of those jobs just go away because the impact on society will be massive in terms of unemployment and tax revenues and how governments work and what people's demands will be made of them in terms of what they want government to do.”

“And so since we know from Kai-Fu’s discussion with you, and other people who are the leaders in the field, we know that the dislocation is coming,” he said. “The Western approach, I think, and it will also impact China, will be that you just can't let these things happen and you're going to need a confederation of government of ethicists in universities, research in universities and companies, to in effect referee what gets introduced, when it gets introduced, how it gets introduced, so we can minimize the downsides of this technology and take advantage of the astonishing upsides.”

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Schwarzman, in another recent interview with Bartiromo, said after learning about nuclear technology, people weren’t given nuclear bombs.

“It’s the same type of thing [with AI],” he pointed out.

“I mean nuclear technology was pioneered in World War II and it got adapted for peaceful use where it's been very effective doing that. On the other hand you just don't allow that technology to spread just because somebody wants it to.” he explained.

“And I think right now we're in the early stages of a where you know, particularly in China, by the way, they have an enormous entrepreneurial instinct. They're creating companies in exceptionally rapid rate. But longer term, not even long-term mid-term, that if that reserve results in large unemployment in China, I can guarantee you that their government will be all over it, because one of the fears there is significant unemployment in people in the streets.”

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Schwarzman said several of their big institutions have reached out to try collaborate with people in the West and Western institutions to figure out how to introduce and control this technology.

Schwarzman, last year, also gave $350 million to M.I.T. During an interview with Bartiromo the provost at M.I.T. said they wanted to study AI but didn’t have the faculty to teach it.

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“Now the problem with AI is that the technology is unbelievably powerful but the ability to train people is not keeping up at all with the number of jobs that will be created,” Schwarzman said.  “And so in that regard things are going to have to change in China. It's easy to make them change. They're exploding their number of people who can train and would take AI-type technologies. In the West, things move slower, but we're going to have to adapt because that's where a lot of the jobs are going to be.”

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