Microsoft Executives: Humans Will Have AI ‘Alter Egos’ in 20 Years

A visitor holds a hand of AILA, or Artificial Intelligence Lightweight Android, during a demonstration at the German Research Center for Artificial Intelligence GmbH (Deutsches Forschungszentrum fuer Kuenstliche Intelligenz GmbH) stand at the 2013 CeBIT technology trade fair on March 5, 2013 in Hanover, Germany. CeBIT will be open March …

Microsoft President Brad Smith and EVP of A.I. Harry Shum have written a book which claims that within 20 years, human “alter egos” will exist in artificial intelligence.

Business Insider UK reports that Brad Smith, the president of tech giant Microsoft, and EVP of A.I., Harry Shum, have written a book titled The Future Computed which makes a number of huge claims about the future of computing and specifically artificial intelligence. The books predictions include the following:

  • The companies and countries that embrace A.I. will perform best.
  • There must be a consensus on the ethics of A.I. to enable consumer trust.
  • A.I. research must be shared among competitors if progress is to reach its full potential.
  • There needs to be an infusion of talent from people with humanities backgrounds to guide A.I. to human parity when decision-making responsibility is handed over to the technology.

Smith emphasized that tech companies will need to work alongside academics and the government in order to determine how best to hand over certain levels of control to devices programmed to mimic human thought, “We make the point that tech companies will know more than anybody else about how the technology works, but that doesn’t mean that tech companies will know best how A.I. should be used in ways that are societally responsible and beneficial,” said Smith.

Smith further discussed how A.I. could affect the job market saying, “the conversations happening around the economy and jobs need to build on the expertise and even the perspective that people creating AI now have. So what we’re hoping to do is contribute to the broader conversations that we think need to take place.” Smith continued to say, “As we said quite explicitly, we’re seeking to democratize A.I., meaning we’re taking the very A.I. building blocks and making them available for others to use. But just as that empowers many people, it also means that these ethical issues need to be thought about much more broadly as a result.”

Business Insider UK asked whether at some point in the future we would see an “Iron Man” style personal assistant that could react in a humanlike manner and control many aspects of people’s day to day lives.

Smith replied, “I think predicting the future is always hard, but one thing Brad and I firmly believe is that the ultimate form of A.I. is a digital assistant —a digital assistant that really understands you, and with your permission knows everything about you. Internally we use the words “alter ego” — really a second self. I think that a lot of AI capabilities will be developed in 20 years. There’s already so much progress with reading and writing, and things like guiding people through solving math equations, and A.I. will be able to help us do a lot more.”

Read the full interview with Business Insider UK here.

Lucas Nolan is a reporter for Breitbart News covering issues of free speech and online censorship. Follow him on Twitter @LucasNolan_ or email him at


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