Source: Forbes, Mar 2012
Li has become particularly fascinated by the sweeping potential of artificial intelligence across all his businesses. In addition to his $7.5 million investment in Siri, the now ubiquitous iPhone virtual assistant, he gave $300,000 last December to a startup that uses AI in its summarization search engine, Summly, run by a 16-year-old.
One of the biggest AI impacts, he believes, will come in education, where customized learning will become “closely knitted” to individual devices. “AI has reached an inflection point,” he says. “Combined with the high-speed mobile network, disruption in several industries will be unavoidable.”
“Businesspeople in general shouldn’t have an overly narrow view of their industry,” he says, explaining his interest in Europe at a time when others see a cloudy future. Rather, they “need a 360-degree perspective and to look at everything from all possible angles.”
That’s in part why even now Li tries daily to read books about science, economics, politics and philosophy. In February he was deep into a history about an influential political leader during China’s Ming dynasty, Zhang Juzheng. “I know how to find peace within my heart and soul,” he says. “If I have a rare vacation, I will spend it reading.” His curiosity about the world and openness to it is summed up in the spirit of a Chinese-style calligraphy painting behind his desk. “Set your goals high; make friends with different kinds of people; enjoy simple pleasures. Stand on high ground; sit on level ground; walk on expansive ground.”