Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer Brad Smith was recently in Berlin to discuss the future of artificial intelligence (AI) and its impact on society, following the release of a new Microsoft book on the topic. We had a chance to sit down with him and discuss the opportunities and challenges which surround this technology.
When it comes to technology, change is the only constant. Looking back on how far we’ve come, it’s worth remembering that the digital tools we take for granted today were once the stuff of science fiction. AI is the next great leap forward in this journey. Yet it also presents challenges. There are concerns about how to responsibly design and use AI based on ethical principles, and how to make sure it is properly governed. Not to mention the potential impact of AI on employment, jobs, and the labor market as a whole.
“Ultimately the question is not only what computers can do. It’s what computers should do.” – Brad Smith
The starting point for addressing such concerns is establishing an ethical framework that can underpin the development and deployment of AI technologies. At Microsoft, we believe that this should be rooted in the principles of reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusivity, transparency, and accountability.
Agreeing on such a framework for AI is vital to ensure best practices can be established across disciplines and sectors. Once these are in place, we can look at the new regulatory rules and policies which will need to evolve accordingly. The biggest challenge for both governments and industry will be to accelerate education reform and create ways to help people learn the new skills they need to thrive. But this is just the starting point.
Preparing for an AI-powered future is a shared responsibility and it demands a shared response. As AI continues to evolve, we look forward to working across with industry, government and civil society stakeholders to ensure the benefits of AI are felt as widely as possible.