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Out of Control AI Will Not Kill ­s, Believes Microsoft Research Chief

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Alex Garland's film Ex Machina is one of several movies to consider the threat posed by AI

Microsoft Research chief Eric Horvitz thinks Artificial Intelligence systems could eventually achieve consciousness, but he doubts they will become a threat to humanity.

Credit: DNA Films

Microsoft Research chief Eric Horvitz, who recently received the AAAI Feigenbaum Prize for outstanding advances in artificial intelligence (AI) research, thinks AI systems eventually could achieve consciousness, but he doubts they could become a threat to humanity.

Several prominent individuals recently have argued otherwise, warning AI could eventually supersede and threaten humanity. However, Horvitz says, "I fundamentally don't think that's going to happen."

Many of the teams at the research lab Horvitz runs at Microsoft's Redmond headquarters are devoted to AI, and one division is continuing to develop Microsoft's Cortana, a voice-controlled digital assistant similar to Apple's Siri. Horvitz expects such assistants to be major drivers for innovation in AI. "The next, if not the last, enduring competitive battlefield among major IT companies will be artificial intelligence," he says.

Although Horvitz does not see AI posing an existential threat to humanity, he does worry the technology could be a threat to people's privacy. However, he also sees the technology as the potential solution to these very same privacy concerns. "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 says.

From BBC News
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