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Tech revolution may cause World War III, warns Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma

Tech revolution may cause World War III, warns Alibaba billionaire Jack Ma
Chinese entrepreneur Jack Ma says the spate of technological advances around the world could lead to a new global conflict between major powers looking to assert their dominance.

“The First World War was because of the first technology revolution. The second technology revolution caused World War II,” he told the audience during a discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos.

“This is the third technology revolution – we’re coming.”

The Alibaba founder’s comments echoed those he made two years ago, when he said that automation and the rise of artificial intelligence would create internal social upheaval and a geopolitical redistribution of power between the leaders and those left behind.

Though elsewhere in his speech, he wryly remarked that “today, there’s no expert of tomorrow, there’s only experts of yesterday.”

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Ma is far from the only billionaire to espouse similar fears, as Tesla founder Elon Musk has drawn up apocalyptic predictions of AI taking over the world – that is if the planet we inhabit isn’t already a computer simulation.

However, Ma, whose own e-commerce business has flourished through the globalization of production, delivery and payment, believes in a proactive solution – yet more globalization.

The 54-year-old said that, so far, the gains from the interconnections have “not been inclusive” and that “we can make more developing countries get involved.” Ma, like China generally, sees Africa as the next great frontier of economic development.

How this will affect those in the developed world, who find themselves undercut for wages and deprived of security as technological gains go the elite, is less clear.

Ma believes, however, that a more creative education is the only way to compete with the efficiency of technology.

“How can we teach kids to be more creative and do things that machines cannot do? Machines have chips, but human beings have hearts,” he told the audience. “Education should move in this direction.”

With a Forbes-estimated net worth of $35 billion, Ma plans to retire from an active role in his company in September this year, and has spoken of returning to his past profession as an educator.

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