AI should enhance, not replace, humans, say CEOs of IBM and Microsoft

The IT industry should build AIs that will take us by the hand, not take our jobs, they suggest

Artificial intelligence should enhance human workers, not replace them, at least according to the CEOs of IBM and Microsoft.

Ginny Rometty and Satya Nadella made clear their view of the role of AI in a panel discussion at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, on Tuesday, just a few hours after Rometty circulated IBM's three guiding principles for the development of cognitive technologies to company staff.

Less dramatic and snappily expressed than Isaac Asimov's three laws of robotics, IBM's three principles are nevertheless intended to limit the harm the introduction of AI technologies causes.

The first thing to understand is the purpose of these technologies. For IBM, Rometty said, "it will not be man or machine: Our purpose is to augment and be in service of what humans do."

Next on her list is transparency: "If someone is using a system, tell them it is artificial intelligence. Tell them how it got trained. Was it trained by experts? What data was used to train it? The human needs to remain in control of these systems," she said.

The third principle is to ensure humans have the skills to work with new cognitive technologies.

"The odds are there are some jobs that will be replaced, but most of us will be working with these systems," she said. Companies like IBM need to ensure not just that AIs are trained, but that people are trained, too.

"The skills needed to succeed in this world are not all high-degree skills," Rometty said, while encouraging businesses to work with schools. "Give them a curriculum that's relevant, give them mentorship, and be sure they're teaching what you're hiring for," she said.

Nadella echoed IBM's purpose: "It's our responsibility to have AI augment human ingenuity and opportunity," he said.

How far human responsibility goes in this industry is an open question, though. "This is one of the harder challenges," he said. "How do you take accountability for the decisions algorithms are making in a world where the algorithms are not being written by you, but are being learned?"

He agreed with the need for transparency. Otherwise, he said, "whose black box do you trust? What is the framework of law and ethics that is ... able to govern the black box? Who is in charge of that?"

That's something the IT industry needs to work on, said Rometty.

"It's our responsibility, as leaders that are putting these technologies out, to guide them in their entry to the world in a safe way," she said. She pointed to the Partnership on AI as an example of the way in which industry is taking a lead.

Join the PC World newsletter!

Error: Please check your email address.

Tags AI

Our Back to Business guide highlights the best products for you to boost your productivity at home, on the road, at the office, or in the classroom.

Keep up with the latest tech news, reviews and previews by subscribing to the Good Gear Guide newsletter.

Peter Sayer

IDG News Service
Show Comments

Essentials

Microsoft L5V-00027 Sculpt Ergonomic Keyboard Desktop

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® S57 USB 3.0 flash drive

Learn more >

Mobile

Lexar® JumpDrive® S45 USB 3.0 flash drive 

Learn more >

Exec

Lexar® Professional 1800x microSDHC™/microSDXC™ UHS-II cards 

Learn more >

Lexar® JumpDrive® C20c USB Type-C flash drive 

Learn more >

HD Pan/Tilt Wi-Fi Camera with Night Vision NC450

Learn more >

Audio-Technica ATH-ANC70 Noise Cancelling Headphones

Learn more >

Budget

Back To Business Guide

Click for more ›

Most Popular Reviews

Latest News Articles

Resources

PCW Evaluation Team

Azadeh Williams

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

A smarter way to print for busy small business owners, combining speedy printing with scanning and copying, making it easier to produce high quality documents and images at a touch of a button.

Andrew Grant

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

I've had a multifunction printer in the office going on 10 years now. It was a neat bit of kit back in the day -- print, copy, scan, fax -- when printing over WiFi felt a bit like magic. It’s seen better days though and an upgrade’s well overdue. This HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 looks like it ticks all the same boxes: print, copy, scan, and fax. (Really? Does anyone fax anything any more? I guess it's good to know the facility’s there, just in case.) Printing over WiFi is more-or- less standard these days.

Ed Dawson

HP OfficeJet Pro 8730

As a freelance writer who is always on the go, I like my technology to be both efficient and effective so I can do my job well. The HP OfficeJet Pro 8730 Inkjet Printer ticks all the boxes in terms of form factor, performance and user interface.

Michael Hargreaves

Windows 10 for Business / Dell XPS 13

I’d happily recommend this touchscreen laptop and Windows 10 as a great way to get serious work done at a desk or on the road.

Aysha Strobbe

Windows 10 / HP Spectre x360

Ultimately, I think the Windows 10 environment is excellent for me as it caters for so many different uses. The inclusion of the Xbox app is also great for when you need some downtime too!

Mark Escubio

Windows 10 / Lenovo Yoga 910

For me, the Xbox Play Anywhere is a great new feature as it allows you to play your current Xbox games with higher resolutions and better graphics without forking out extra cash for another copy. Although available titles are still scarce, but I’m sure it will grow in time.

Featured Content

Latest Jobs

Don’t have an account? Sign up here

Don't have an account? Sign up now

Forgot password?