Latest trends in Mathematics and AI discussed in 2024 WAIC in Shanghai

By Zhang Zhouxiang |
Updated: July 6, 2024

The 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference (WAIC) on "Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence" hosted by the Smale Institute for Mathematics & Computation(Smale Institute) concluded successfully at the Shanghai Expo Center on Thursday. The conference was chaired by Xuan Xiaohua, founder of Shanghai-based Unidt and executive dean of SIMC, and attended by distinguished mathematicians such as Manuel Blum, an emeritus professor at the School of Computer Science at Carnegie Mellon University and recipient of the Turing Award; Jose A. Carrillo, an applied mathematics professor at Oxford University; Michael Bronstein, a professor of artificial intelligence at DeepMind, Oxford University. Laurent Lafforgue, a mathematics professor emeritus at the French Institute for Advanced Study (IHES) and winner of the Fields Medal, participated in the round-table discussion via online platforms, while Zhang Ying, director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, attended the meeting and delivered a speech.

These top global mathematicians and scientists engaged in deep discussions on topics such as the mathematical foundations of machine learning and artificial intelligence, algorithmic research in artificial intelligence, AI for Science, and AI for Math, jointly exploring the latest research achievements and future development trends in the fields of mathematics and artificial intelligence.

Artificial Intelligence has permeated every corner of life, enhancing the efficiency of modern human society to an unprecedented level and bringing numerous conveniences and benefits. However, AI still faces a series of theoretical and practical challenges, for which reason the conference also focused on topics such as "What are some good mathematical models for cutting-edge research areas like Artificial General Intelligence (AGI), the emergence of large models, and conscious intelligence? What are the limits of intelligence?" It delved into how existing mathematical models drive the development of AI and large models, exploring the bidirectional promotion and mutual development between mathematics and artificial intelligence.

David Barber pointed out that there is a vast gap between the purity and clarity of mathematics and the complexity of human reasoning, language, knowledge, and artificial intelligence. He emphasized that using mathematical models to drive AI and make it better understand human language is a challenging yet potentially rewarding task. At the same time, he optimistically stated that existing statistics and logical reasoning have already laid a solid foundation for the development of AI, believing that more precise and efficient mathematical models will assist in the advancement of AI in the future.

Jin Shi, dean of Institute of Natural Science, Shanghai Jiao Tong University, said that an ideal mathematical model should perfectly integrate domain knowledge and physical laws, as such a model can more effectively solve complex problems. When discussing "the limits of intelligence," Michael Bronstein pointed out that the current progress in artificial intelligence is seen by humans today as we viewed science fiction novels fantasizing about the present ten years ago. Although we have witnessed significant advancements in AI today, it still feels somewhat different. He emphasized that the limits of artificial intelligence are like the new goals that humans constantly pursue and set; it is a dynamic, ever-changing process with no end.

Everything in the world has duality, and behind the mutually beneficial relationship between mathematics and artificial intelligence, there may also be hidden risks. When the audience at the event expressed confusion about this issue, Professor Manuel Blum noted that humanity might one day perish, but the advent of artificial intelligence is not necessarily an inevitable push towards this fate. On the contrary, AI could be the key to helping humans avoid risks. Oluwole Daniel Makinde, head of Applied Mathematics Department, University of the North in South Africa agreed with this view, believing that we should adopt a positive and optimistic attitude, trusting that artificial intelligence will bring us innovation.

Zhang Ying, director of the Shanghai Municipal Commission of Economy and Information Technology, represented the Shanghai municipal government to congratulate and welcome mathematicians from around the world to Shanghai for the 2024 World Artificial Intelligence Conference and the "Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence" academic conference. Zhang emphasized that mathematics is a critical force driving technological innovation. Given the inseparable close connection between mathematics and artificial intelligence, the government attaches great importance to the application and development of artificial intelligence, as well as the relationship and driving force between mathematics and artificial intelligence. This is not only an important background for the successful organization of this "Mathematics and Artificial Intelligence" academic conference but also the root of the high hopes placed on this conference by the organizers.

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