Alibaba’s chairman and founder, Jack Ma, thinks that new technologies could be a threat to more than just jobs.
During an interview with CNBC’s David Faber on Wednesday, Ma said that new technologies like machine learning and artificial intelligence could lead to the third World War.
“The first technology revolution caused World War I,” Ma told CNBC. “The second technology revolution caused World War II. This is the third technology revolution.”
Machine learning and artificial intelligence have become a hot topic among businesses as of late, with a record number of firms touting the utilization of the new technologies in their business.
The technologies have also has raised worries about the implications for average workers who could see their jobs automated away using these new functions. In turn, concerns about geopolitical outcomes due to increased automation have also bubbled up.
“The third technology revolution may cause the Third World War,” Ma told CNBC at the Gateway 2017 conference.
Ma has previously warned about the dangers of slowing international trade, saying at the opening of Alibaba’s Australian’s headquarters in February, “If trade stops, war starts.”
In Ma’s view, the worker displacement from these new technologies and the economic stress it could place on political systems may lead to conflict as some people will be big winners from the changes while others will get left behind.
In his estimation, the first World War came on the heels of upheaval caused by the Industrial Revolution which shuffled the economic fortunes of different nations and classes leading to conflict, and similar technologies helped lead to World War II.
To head off this conflict, Ma said, governments need to get out in front of the displacement and help to adapt workforces to take on new jobs and step up education to provide a backstop to prevent negative outcomes.
“The next 30 years, the technology is going to challenge a lot of jobs opportunities,” Ma said. “So if we cannot help the local businesses going global, it’s going to cause a lot of problems.”
Ma did say he believes humans would not go obsolete, even as these technologies advance. “I don’t think machines, artificial intelligence, is going to replace the wisdom,” he said.
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