UJ’s Vice-Chancellor Designate, Prof Marwala explores the impact of Artificial Intelligence

Prof Tshilidzi Marwala, UJ’s Vice-Chancellor Designate delivered his Public Lecture based on his newly published book, co-authored by Evan Hurwitz, entitled “Artificial Intelligence and Economic Theory: Skynet in the Market” on Thursday, 24 August 2017 at the Auckland Park Kingsway’s Campus Library.

The main areas of Prof Marwala’s research reflected on economic theories including: demand and supply, asymmetrical information, pricing, rational choice, rational expectation, game theory, efficient market hypotheses, mechanism design, prospect, bounded rationality, portfolio theory, rational counterfactual and causality.

The benefit of the newly published book is that it evaluates existing theories of economics and updates them based on the developments in the Artificial Intelligence (AI) field.

Prof Marwala analysed the impact of AI on economic theories, a subject that has not been studied. “Firstly, artificial intelligence in the market reduces the level of information asymmetry and secondly it reduces the volume of trades in the market,” he said.

‘’The fourth industrial revolution is characterised by making systems as well as machines intelligent and connected. The underlying technology of the fourth industrial revolution is Artificial Intelligence. AI is a paradigm where physical and social phenomena are programmed to solve complex problems. It enables machines to learn, adapt, evolve and optimise and has had a profound impact in diverse fields such as engineering, medical sciences and social sciences,’’ said Prof Marwala.

“AI is a computational technique which is inspired by natural intelligence such as the swarming of birds, the working of the brain and the pathfinding of the ants. These techniques have impact on economic theories,” explained Prof Marwala.

In the future, many tasks will have the opportunity of input from AI. However, rather than replacing humans, it is the combination of AI and humans that is likely to bring the greatest benefits to the working world. “If you are ready to use AI to solve a problem today, in five years’ time you will be able to execute that decision faster, added Prof Marwala.”

“Migration of labour is from economy to machine. Work that is done by people is now increasing to machines. We will reach a point where we will no longer be able to migrate labour to machines in a cost effective manner,” concluded Prof Marwala.

Prof Marwala has received over 41 awards; has published over 170 articles in refereed international journals, conference proceedings and book chapters; has successfully supervised 30 postgraduate students at masters and PhD levels and has collaborated with 44 national as well as international researchers.

He has presented his work in major international forums in India, UK, Nederland, USA, Canada, Hungary, Poland, Mauritius and Japan. His research interests include the application of computational intelligence to engineering, computer science, finance, social science and medicine. His work has been featured in magazines such Time Magazine, New Scientist and ACM Tech News.


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