Satya Nadella offers his thoughts on building helpful artificial intelligence

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has written an editorial about how humanity can create artificial intelligence that will help people in the future, rather than harm them either directly or indirectly. Nadella first announced the company's new push into developing better A.I. at its Build 2016 developer conference in March.

The editorial was posted on Slate and Nadella states that, at the moment, most people think of A.I. in two different extremes:

Our perception of A.I. seems trapped somewhere between the haunting voice of HAL in 2001: A Space Odyssey and friendlier voices in today's personal digital assistants—Cortana, Siri, and Alexa. We can daydream about how to use our spare time when machines drive us places, do our chores, help us make better decisions. Or we can fear a robot-induced massive economic dislocation later this century. Depending on whom you listen to, the so-called "singularity," that moment when computer intelligence will surpass human intelligence, might occur by the year 2100—or it's simply the stuff of science fiction.

Instead of this "good-bad" discussion on how A.I. will affect humanity, Nadella believes that we should instead talk about the values of the people and companies that are developing this revolution in hardware and software. He says that this approach is what Microsoft is taking in terms of its own A.I. projects:

First, we want to build intelligence that augments human abilities and experiences. Ultimately, it's not going to be about human vs. machine. We humans have creativity, empathy, emotion, physicality, and insight that can then be mixed with powerful A.I. computation—the ability to reason over large amounts of data and do pattern recognition more quickly—to help move society forward. Second, we also have to build trust directly into our technology. We must infuse technology with protections for privacy, transparency, and security. A.I. devices must be designed to detect new threats and devise appropriate protections as they evolve. And third, all of the technology we build must be inclusive and respectful to everyone.

Nadella's editorial is an excellent look at how both he and Microsoft will strive to create A.I. programs and products that will be designed to help mankind, rather than create a Terminator-like future.

John Callaham