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Technologies at Summer Davos offer a glimpse into future
Last Updated: 2018-09-21 00:32 | Xinhua
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A few seconds after a visitor read a short text on the screen, everything about him ranging from height, body size, age and skeleton structure to general health and personality was displayed.

What does your voice say about you? To find the answer, curious visitors waited in a queue at an exhibition space at Summer Davos (the Annual Meeting of the New Champions 2018) in Tianjin.

Not all the predictions were accurate, but they showed a very young technology -- voice analysis powered by AI -- being developed by researchers at Carnegie Mellon University.

"Voice is more unique than your fingerprint because your fingerprint doesn't change, but voice tells about your current state," said Rita Singh, associate research professor with the university's School of Computer Science.

Singh and her colleagues studied human faces and recorded voices corresponding to the faces in order to make the connections. They then make judgments based on a string of voice qualities.

Profiling humans using their voice has the potential to be used by law enforcement agencies or hospitals.

In 2014, the technology helped the Coastguard of the United States to successfully catch a criminal who made hoax calls.

"Anything that affects your body and mind internally will affect your voice," Singh said. "Maybe someday we will be able to analyze a voice and say you have taken blood pressure medication, an antibiotic or something like that."

Established by the World Economic Forum (WEF) in 2007, the Summer Davos Forum is held annually in China, alternating between the two port cities of Tianjin and Dalian.

Themed "Shaping Innovative Societies in the Fourth Industrial Revolution," the three-day event has drawn more than 2,000 politicians, businesspeople, scholars and media representatives to discuss issues that will shape the future, such as applications of advanced technologies ranging from AI and robots to the blockchain.

Thanks to advances in voice, facial and DNA-recognition technology, you won't need your keys. Your wallet, ID card and passport will be a distant memory. This was what was discussed by researchers at Wednesday's interactive panel salon "Biometric World."

Rob Livingston, senior vice-president of Special Projects, Visa, described some prototypes that could change the way people make purchases in the future, including "blood flow" based technologies, where you would swipe your wrist to be identified, rings that use near-field communication, and plastic cards with in-built fingerprint recognition.

While some people may think these changes seem vague, the WEF published a list on the top 10 emerging technologies of 2018, ranging from augmented reality and personalized medicine to implantable drug-making cells and lab-grown meat.

They were selected by a panel of scientists and experts, and are likely to take effect within three to five years.

Take the lab-grown meat for example. Scientists claim that meat grown from cultured cells could cut the environmental costs of producing meat and eliminate the unethical treatment suffered by animals that are raised for food.

Startups like Mosa Meat and Memphis Meats have already attracted millions in funding, even though the production costs are high and taste-test results have been mixed, according to the WEF.

Skeptics are concerned that advanced technologies such as AI might pose privacy risks and robots may take jobs from humans.

Singh warned that people should be more aware of what happens to their data when they talk to voice recognition services.

"They don't know, so they let their voice be recorded. If somebody gets hold of the recording, they may attack the voice password enabled system,' she said. "People should use it more judiciously."

She added that while scientists look at the research side of voice profiling technology, the media and lawmakers must take it in the right direction.

The WEF's latest research sees a more positive trend. It forecast that by 2025, more than half of all current workplace tasks will be performed by machines, as opposed to 29 percent today.

Such a transformation will have a profound effect on the global labor force. However, in terms of overall job numbers the outlook is positive, with 133 million new jobs expected to be created by 2022, compared to 75 million that will be displaced.

When asked whether he fears humans could be controlled by robots, Klaus Schwab, WEF's founder and executive chairman, said no.

"Change is now happening, but we can influence change," he said in an interview with Xinhua.

In his recent book "Shaping the Fourth industrial Revolution," Schwab sent a message that the new industrial revolution should be human-centered.

"We should make use of robots rather than become the servants of robots," he said.

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Technologies at Summer Davos offer a glimpse into future
Source:Xinhua | 2018-09-21 00:32
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