Constantinos Daskalakis said that he is saddened by the fact that young, educated, talented Greeks leave the country, because they can not advance or even find work in Greece.
The Greek scientific genius spoke in front of a packed auditorium at the Aristotle University of Thessaloniki. His lecture on artificial intelligence mesmerized 1,500 academics and students.
Now an associate professor of computer science and electrical engineering at MIT, Daskalakis was awarded the international computer science organization (ACM) Doctoral Dissertation Award in 2008 for his thesis on “The Complexity of Nash Equilibria”.
The Greek scientist’s thesis answered a scientific puzzle which had remained unsolved since John Nash had published it in 1950.
Daskalakis identified computational obstacles to the implementability of the Nash equilibrium, which has long been at the epicenter of financial mathematics, highlighting the need for new and more realistic equilibrium concepts.
His work won him the Game Theory Society’s Game Theory and Computer Science prize. He has won a number of other awards and distinctions, including the Career Award from the US National Science Foundation, the Sloan Fellowship in Computer Science, the 2011 Society for Industrial and Applied Mathematics (SIAM) Outstanding Paper prize, a Microsoft research scholarship, and the research award from the Vatican’s Giuseppe Sciacca foundation.
Speaking about artificial intelligence in Thessaloniki, Daskalakis said that it will soon become part of our lives.
He said that it is more likely that in five years from today we will have a personal secretary with artificial intelligence and self-guided cars, while in 15 years the human brain’s interface with technology may become much more immediate, and the boundary separating where man ends and where the machine begins, will become more inconspicuous.
“May all this get out of hand? Yes, and it could have happened with other things in the past. But being negative about the river that comes up against us is not constructive. What we need to think about is how to put it in the right direction,” Daskalakis said.
The Greek professor presented three possible scenarios for the future of artificial intelligence in the next 5 to 50 years. However, he said, what would most likely happen is to have a mix of all three.
The first scenario is the optimistic one. It is called “Wonderland,”, where the human-machine interaction is positive and the former benefits from the latter.
The machines do the manual work, man has more free time or performs mental tasks and the insurance system is preserved, since the lack of young people working and paying contributions are compensated by the existence of robots, which need no insurance or pension.
A prerequisite for verifying this scenario is to conquer science’s general intelligence, that is to say, the machine learns to use man’s intuition and experience.
Under the second scenario, entitled “Pessiland”, science conquers the general intelligence, but it is not accessible to all but only to companies or state laboratories that use it for imperialist influence.
“If we go in this direction, the scenario is obviously dystopian,” said the professor.
The third scenario, entitled “Stagnatia”, for which Daskalakis pointed out that ” it has a good chance to be verified,” is that in which, while there are more and more specific AI applications (eg video and audio recognition or translation), science fails to make the leap in general use of artificial intelligence and there is relative stagnation.
Speaking to reporters after his speech, Daskalakis said he is not surprised that so many people came to listen, because, he explained, this is a very important issue that has to do with our future.
When asked to comment on the problem of brain drain that Greece is suffering from, Daskalakis said that, “It is very regrettable that our country is educating so many scientists without absorbing them.
Today is a little different as when I left Greece. Now we have a global market in which a Greek scientist can participate actively in scientific and economic developments.”