Microsoft: AI is not a threat to humanity

The head of Microsoft’s research division reckons artificial intelligence won’t suddenly decide to wipe out the human race.

Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research Chief, told the BBC that he doesn’t believe humans will struggle to contain AI.

There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences,” said Horvitz. “I fundamentally don’t think that’s going to happen.”

“I think that we will be very proactive in terms of how we field AI systems, and that in the end we’ll be able to get incredible benefits from machine intelligence in all realms of life, from science to education to economics to daily life.”

Horvitz is in charge of around 1000 scientists and engineers at the division that he claims dedicates ‘over a quarter of all attention and resources’ to AI.

One fruit of Microsoft Research’s labour in the AI sector is Cortana, the voice-controlled digital assistant that appeared on Windows Phone last year, and will make its way to desktops with Windows 10 in the coming months.

Horvitz believes Cortana and its AI rivals are the first shot in a long standing battle for dominance in the sector.

“The next, if not last, enduring competitive battlefield among major IT companies will be artificial intelligence,” he explained.

“The notion that systems that can think, listen, hear, collect data from thousands of user experiences – and we synthesise it back to enhance its services over time – has come to the forefront now.”

Horvitz continued: “We have Cortana and Siri and Google Now setting up a competitive tournament for where’s the best intelligent assistant going to come from…and that kind of competition is going to heat up the research and investment, and bring it more into the spotlight.”

Related: Cortana vs Google Now vs Siri: Which is best?

In contrast to this AI well-wishing is Elon Musk, founder of Tesla and long-time opponent of pro-AI research, who previously likened it to ‘summoning the demon.’

So concerned is Musk that he recently donated $10 million to research how we could stop AI from taking over the world.

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