The threat of artificial intelligence and automation to the work force is coming into stark focus in 2017, with increasing reports of automation replacing factory and warehouse workers by the tens of thousands and AI replacing even white-collar workers.
Microsoft however does not want to be part of that movement, instead according to CEO Satya Nadella working to improve the life of workers with intelligent assistance.
“The fundamental need of every person is to be able to use their time more effectively, not to say, ‘let us replace you’,” Nadella said at the DLD conference in Munich. “This year and the next will be the key to democratising AI. The most exciting thing to me is not just our own promise of AI as exhibited by these products, but to take that capability and put it in the hands of every developer and every organisation.”
He said it was more important for companies to help their workers work more effectively than to try and replace them, noting worker dignity was important.
Microsoft has just acquired Maluuba, a Montreal-based AI startup specialising in analysing written content, for example sifting through businesses’ documents to find experts in given fields.
Microsoft has already demonstrated using Cortana to intelligently search your PC and network for relevant documents and to assist users in making appointments and set up meetings, as seen in the video below: