Microsoft CEO Nadella Cautions Against Wielding AI As Human Replacement

Artificial intelligence allows us to push the boundaries of human capabilities. AI can contribute to self-driving cars, aid in medical diagnosis, and respond to us when we ask a device about the weather. Microsoft’s CEO Satya Nadella, however, recently warned listeners at the Digital Life Design conference in Munich against hubris with regards to AI.

Nadella was particularly concerned in his interview about replacing human beings with robots. He remarked, “The fundamental need of every person is to be able to use their time more effectively, not to say, ‘let us replace you’. This year and the next will be the key to democratizing AI. The most exciting thing to me is not just our own promise of AI as exhibited by these products, but to take that capability and put it in the hands of every developer and every organization.”

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Microsoft is already deeply involved in the development of AI. Japan Airlines currently uses a HoloLens to simulate aircraft engines in order to train repair workers, while McDonald’s often relies upon a Microsoft-based automated order-taking system. Microsoft has even developed software that protects employees from robots in a work environment.

Nadella’s message is rather different from Apple supplier Foxconn’s recent actions. Foxconn replaced 60,000 human workers with robot workers in Kunshan, Jiangsu, China this past year. Its main reason for the replacement was to reduce costs. Nadella hopes that AI will be used in a way that still maintains human dignity.

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Microsoft’s goal in 2017 is to make its AI discoveries and products more widely available to a variety of companies and start-ups. Nadella also has urged Microsoft’s various departments to work together in order to ships products more quickly and expand their platforms. Nadella stated, “But what’s Microsoft’s unique contribution beyond doing that is democratizing the access to the same tools that we use for ourselves so that every developer can use them to create their own intelligence”.