MUNICH -- BMW CEO Harald Krueger said the breakneck speed of technological advances is giving automakers new rivals such as Tesla but also new opportunities in areas such as artificial intelligence.
"Until very recently our competitors were Mercedes, Audi and Porsche," Krueger said. "Now we are looking at newcomers such as Tesla or Faraday Future -- who knew these companies 10 years ago? -- and of course high-tech players like Google, Apple, Baidu or Alibaba.
"It shows how our industry is changing," he said last week in a keynote speech at the Automotive News Europe Congress here.
Krueger said increasingly rapid progress in artificial intelligence will change how drivers interact with their vehicles. He cited two examples:
1. The victory in March of Google's AlphaGo software program over Lee Sedol, the world's best player of Go, a Chinese board game that is infinitely more complicated than chess.
"This win for artificial intelligence marks a historic turning point," Krueger said. "AlphaGo is partly based on deep learning neural networks and it made moves that human professionals first saw as errors. The program found a way to win never discovered by humans in 25 centuries of Go history."
2. Pepper, the Japanese humanoid robot that is programmed to be a personal companion for senior citizens. The robot can analyze human emotions and adapt its responses. If you're happy, Pepper will share your joy. If you're sad, Pepper will comfort you. This demonstrates that technology is becoming human, Krueger said.