ELIJAH CUMMINGS – Steve Kroft interviews Rep. Elijah Cummings (D-Md.), new chairman of the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform, an investigative body that has President Trump in its sights. Maria Gavrilovic is the producer.
THE ORACLE OF AI – Scott Pelley reports on the artificial intelligence revolution in China, where one of the world’s foremost experts on AI, Kai-Fu Lee, reigns as the industry’s leading visionary. Guy Campanile is the producer.
A DIFFERENT KIND OF VISION –The remarkable story of architect Chris Downey, who lost his sight, found a way to keep working and believes blindness has made him a better architect. Lesley Stahl reports. Shari Finkelstein is the producer.
A middle-aged architect who lost his sight in 2008 has found a way to continue practicing his profession, and even grow in it. He says blindness has ironically made him a better architect. Chris Downey tells Lesley Stahl his remarkable story on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 13 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
Downey lost his sight after an operation to remove a benign tumor in his brain. “Lots of people, friends that were architects…would say ‘Oh, it’s the worst thing imaginable, to be an architect and to lose your sight,’ but I quickly came to realize that the creative process is an intellectual process,” says Downey. “I just needed new tools.”
He found a printer that can emboss architectural drawings so that he can “read” them through touch – the architectural equivalent of Braille. And he came up with a way to “draw” his own ideas onto the plans using malleable wax sticks. The San Francisco Lighthouse for the Blind and Visually Impaired, an organization that teaches the blind skills to help navigate life, helped Downey learn to get around on his own. He started relying more on his hearing and the sense of feel from the tip of his cane. That opened a new avenue, he says. “I was fascinated walking through buildings that I knew [when I was] sighted, but I was experiencing them in a different way,” he tells Stahl. “I was hearing the architecture. I was feeling the space.”
As his luck would have it, after losing his job in the recession nine months after losing his sight, he discovered a firm that was designing a facility for veterans with sight loss. They were intrigued to meet a blind architect. “It took my disability and turned it upside down,” says Downey. He now had an expertise “that virtually nobody else had to offer.”
That job led to others, including work on an eye center at Duke University Hospital, a project for Microsoft, and making a massive San Francisco commuter terminal accessible to the visually impaired. His pioneering designs include grooves to guide people along the platform and changes in floor texture to indicate when to turn to find the escalator. At the San Francisco Lighthouse, he came up with the idea to put an internal staircase connecting the building’s three floors. The sighted can see it; the blind can hear the sounds of activities on the other floors.
Downey recently marked the 10th anniversary of losing his sight with a party at the Lighthouse, where he’s been a student, architect, and now president of the board. In a way, he says he feels like a kid again. “I am relearning so much of architecture. It wasn’t about what I was missing in architecture…it was about what I had been missing in architecture,” he says. “I am absolutely convinced I am a better architect today than I was sighted.”
In as soon as 15 years, 40 percent of the world’s jobs could be done by machines, says one of the world’s foremost experts on artificial intelligence. Kai-Fu Lee, a pioneer in AI and a venture capitalist based in China, makes this prediction in a Scott Pelley report about AI on the next edition of 60 MINUTES, Sunday, Jan. 13 (7:00-8:00 PM, ET/PT) on the CBS Television Network.
“AI will increasingly replace repetitive jobs, not just for blue collar work, but a lot of white collar work,” says Lee. “Chauffeurs, truck drivers, anyone who does driving for a living –their jobs will be disrupted more in the 15-25 year time frame,” he tells Pelley. “Many jobs that seem a little bit complex, chef, waiter, a lot of things will become automated…stores…restaurants, and all together in 15 years, that’s going to displace about 40 percent of the jobs in the world.” It does not mean all those jobs will be displaced. “I would say displaceable,” explains Lee.
“I believe [AI] is going to change the world more than anything in the history of mankind. More than electricity,” says Lee.
One of the biggest changes will be in education. Lee is financing companies that are installing AI systems in remote classrooms across China to improve learning for students far from the country’s growing cities. The AI system is being designed to gauge student interest and intelligence by subject. Could such artificial intelligence identify the geniuses of the world? “That’s possible in the future,” says Lee. “It can also create a student profile and know where the student got stuck, so the teacher can personalize the areas in which the student needs help.”
Those students will be facing an uncertain future with 40 percent of the world’s current jobs displaceable. “What does that do to the fabric of society?” asks Pelley.
“Well, in some sense, there is the human wisdom that always overcomes these technological revolutions,” Lee says. “The invention of the steam engine, the sewing machine, electricity, have all displaced jobs. We’ve gotten over it. The challenge of AI is this 40 percent – whether it is 15 or 25 years – is coming faster than the previous revolutions.”
Pelley travelled to China for this story, where 70 percent of the 1.4 billion Chinese use smart phones, often to make routine transactions including fast food purchases, bike rentals and paying bills. The phone use creates a torrent of data for China’s tech companies. Lee explained that endless supply of information is the rocket fuel for AI in China. “China clearly has an advantage,” says Lee of the potential to develop AI.
But the U.S. still enjoys a technological leadership that will keep it competitive with the Chinese, at least for the near future. “The top prominent researchers are still mostly American, so I think it’s about 50/50 for the next five years,” Lee tells Pelley.