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AI Robots Are Not Bad, Says Microsoft

Eric Horvitz, Microsoft Research Chief, has said that he thinks artificial intelligence could achieve consciousness but has said that AI pose no threats to humans. 

BBC News report:

Eric Horvitz’s position contrasts with that of several other leading thinkers.

Last December, Prof Stephen Hawking told the BBC that such machines could “spell the end of the human race”.

Mr Horvitz also revealed that “over a quarter of all attention and resources” at his research unit were now focused on AI-related activities.

“There have been concerns about the long-term prospect that we lose control of certain kinds of intelligences,” he said.

“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.”

Mr Horvitz heads up a team of more than 1,000 scientists and engineers at Microsoft’s research wing.

The division’s work on AI has already helped give rise to Cortana – a voice-controlled virtual assistant that runs on the Windows Phone platform and will shortly come to desktop PCs when Windows 10 is released.

Mr Horvitz said that he believed Cortana and its rivals would spur on development of the field.

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

“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.

“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.”