People first, technology second: Artificial Intelligence should be built upon an ethical foundation

| By Fabio Scopeta, Director of Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Microsoft Latin America

Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology has already impacted our society – in the way we consume news, plan our day, shop, and interact with our family, friends and colleagues – but two decades from now, what will our world look like? And how do we ensure that AI systems are designed and used responsibly?

We are in the early stages of understanding what Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems will be capable of. What we know now, is that beyond impacting our personal lives, AI will enable breakthrough advances. However, AI is only as good as the data that it learns from. Moreover, knowing how to use AI to solve a problem, is as important as to know where (and why) you shouldn’t use it, and that only comes after many years of experimentation.

Fabio Scopeta, Director of Digital Transformation and Artificial Intelligence (AI) for Microsoft Latin America

As a professional that started working with AI when the tech industry was still figuring out how to create the first useful solutions, I’m excited about the opportunities that AI provides to people and its ability to help us achieve more. But I also recognize that it is important to build an ethical foundation to guide the cross-disciplinary development and use of artificial intelligence. As this technology gets more sophisticated and starts to play a larger role in society, it is imperative for companies to develop and adopt clear principles that guide its use, preventing bias to intrude.

At Microsoft, for example, we’ve developed an internal advisory committee to help us ensure our products adhere to principles such as fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusivity, transparency and accountability. These guiding principles will help ensure the AI tools and services we create at Microsoft assist humanity and augment its capabilities.

Microsoft is also one of the co-founders of the “Partnership on AI”, an association created to provide an open and inclusive platform for discussion and engagement about Artificial Intelligence. We believe that AI must maximize efficiencies without destroying dignity and guard against bias.

While I trust AI will help solve big social issues, we must look toward the future with a critical eye. There will be challenges as well as opportunities – and that is why it’s crucial for our society’s future that as AI systems become more mainstream, technologists work closely with government, academia, businesses, civil society and other stakeholders to reach a consensus about what values should govern AI development and use.

I am passionate about how Artificial Intelligence and the Cloud are transforming our world. We are already seeing its benefits with different solutions like Microsoft Translator, Seeing AI, Cortana, Bing and Office 365 – just to name a few -, and an AI Platform that allows anyone to create their own solutions. I think we are just beginning to see a glimpse of the possibilities of what people and AI can achieve together. But we, as a society, need to act today with a sense of shared responsibility because AI won’t be created by the tech sector alone – the AI of tomorrow relies on us and the ethical foundation we create around it!

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