Microsoft CEO: A.I. Design Will Require Values

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Earlier this week, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella published an article on Slate that outlined his positions on artificial intelligence (A.I.) and machine learning. If you’re interested in those fields, it’s well worth a read, because Nadella’s position as head of one of the world’s biggest technology companies means his opinion could have considerable influence on how the A.I. field evolves in coming years and decades.

Nadella is, to put it mildly, an A.I. optimist. He thinks self-learning machines will allow humanity to conquer “disease, ignorance, and poverty.” At the same time, however, he’s cognizant of the risks inherent in the technology.

“I would argue that perhaps the most productive debate we can have isn’t one of good versus evil,” he wrote. “The debate should be about the values instilled in the people and institutions creating this technology.” In other words, the beliefs and positions of the developers will have enormous influence on what A.I. “believes” and how it operates.

Nadella believes that A.I. should be built with the following principles in mind:

  • It must “assist humanity”
  • It must “be transparent”
  • It must “Maximize efficiencies” (without destroying peoples’ dignity)
  • It must feature “intelligent privacy”
  • It must have “algorithmic accountability” (i.e., humans can undo A.I. actions)
  • It must “guard against bias”

At the same time, he believes that humans must apply their own empathy, education, creativity, judgment and accountability to A.I. interactions. “The most critical next step in our pursuit of A.I. is to agree on an ethical and empathic framework for its design,” Nadella concluded.

If you’re interested in working with A.I., though, you’ll need more than a sense of empathy and creativity (although those things certainly help). Check out Dice’s advice for breaking into the machine-learning field, and get familiar with some of the challenges that will face tech professionals on a design level as they build out the next generation of A.I. platforms.

Image Credit: Ociacia/Shutterstock.com

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