New Microsoft book, 'The Future Computed,' examines AI's role in society

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rtificial Intelligence and machine learning have entered the spotlight more and more in recent years, as major tech companies have each made innovating around AI a focus. Microsoft is among those pushing the envelope in AI research, having created a dedicated AI research group group in 2016 to focus on a stated initiative to "democratize AI." However, as we explore integrating AI into more aspects of our lives, there are inevitably societal and ethical questions that arise. In a new book, titled "The Future Computed," Microsoft explores these issues and how AI may impact society.

In a blog post penned by Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith, along with Harry Shum, Executive Vice President of Microsoft AI and Research Group, the executives detail the questions that drive the book's exploration of AI's role in society.

How do we ensure that AI is designed and used responsibly? How do we establish ethical principles to protect people? How should we govern its use? And how will AI impact employment and jobs?

To answer these tough questions, technologists will need to work closely with government, academia, business, civil society and other stakeholders. At Microsoft, we've identified six ethical principles – fairness, reliability and safety, privacy and security, inclusivity, transparency, and accountability – to guide the cross-disciplinary development and use of artificial intelligence. The better we understand these or similar issues — and the more technology developers and users can share best practices to address them — the better served the world will be as we contemplate societal rules to govern AI.

"The Future Computed" features a forward by Smith and Shum, and teams at Microsoft collaborated to compose its contents. If you're interested in exploring some of the ethical concerns behind AI, as well as some of the breakthroughs it could bring to areas like healthcare and transportation, the book is available for free in its entirety as a PDF.