Microsoft Research Blog

The Microsoft Research blog provides in-depth views and perspectives from our researchers, scientists and engineers, plus information about noteworthy events and conferences, scholarships, and fellowships designed for academic and scientific communities.

Artificial intelligence is raising concerns, and here’s what researchers are doing to address them

September 28, 2015 | By Microsoft blog editor

By Allison Linn, Senior Writer, Microsoft Research

Advances in artificial intelligence have improved our lives in many ways. Thanks to methods developed in artificial intelligence, we have GPS systems that help us to get where we are going, smart phones that understand what we are saying and early-stage tools to predict serious medical complications and guide treatments.

Eric Horvitz (left) and Thomas Dietterich

These tools offer only a small glimpse of the ways in which artificial intelligence will benefit us and influence our lives in years to come, two top leaders in the artificial intelligence field say. They argue that researchers must focus even more intensely on near-term artificial intelligence challenges while also thinking about and addressing concerns voiced about future, dystopian potential consequences.

“We believe computer scientists must continue to investigate and address concerns about the possibility of the loss of control of machine intelligence via any pathway, even if we judge the risks to be very small and far in the future,” Eric Horvitz and Thomas Dietterich write in Viewpoint, which appears this week in the Communications of the Association for Computing Machinery, a leading journal serving computing professionals in academia and industry.

In the Viewpoint, the two authors discuss beneficial contributions on the horizon, including artificial intelligence technologies that could save many thousands of lives lost to accidents on our roadways and errors made in hospitals. They also note that artificial intelligence will lead to substantial advances in education, transportation and commerce.

Read the full Viewpoint: Rise of Concerns about AI

Horvitz, a technical fellow and managing director of Microsoft Research’s Redmond, Washington, lab, and Dietterich, a distinguished professor at Oregon State University who is also the current president of the Association for the Advancement of Artificial Intelligence, advocate for more research into a broad range of these near-term problems. They include cybersecurity risks, programming errors, unintended behaviors and socioeconomic effects.

Another risk to consider: Fear. In addition to doing research to prevent costly consequences, the researchers note that computer scientists must communicate clearly with non-experts about artificial intelligence advances.
“Beyond scholarly studies, computer scientists need to maintain an open, two-way channel for communicating with the public about opportunities, concerns, remedies and reality of AI,” they write.

Read more:

Up Next

Artificial intelligence, Human-computer interaction

Toward Emotionally Intelligent Artificial Intelligence

Recent successes in machine intelligence hinge on core computation ability to efficiently search through billions of possibilities in order to make decisions. Sequences of decisions, if successful, often suggest that perhaps computation is catching up to–or even surpassing–human intelligence. Human intelligence, on the other hand, is highly generalizable, adaptive, robust and exhibits characteristics that the […]

Daniel McDuff


Artificial intelligence

Examining the social impacts of artificial intelligence with Dr. Fernando Diaz

Episode 30, June 27, 2018 - Dr. Diaz shares his insights on the kinds of questions we need to be asking about artificial intelligence and its impact on society. He also talks about how algorithms can affect your taste in music, and why now, more than ever, computer science education needs to teach ethics along with algorithms.

Microsoft blog editor

Artificial intelligence

Computer science researchers discuss the future of AI at Academic Research Summit in India

Leading computer science researchers from India and around the world gather this week in Hyderabad at the Academic Research Summit 2018 to discuss their vision for the future of artificial intelligence and how India-based computer science researchers can help turn that vision into reality. The Academic Research Summit provides the Indian research community with a […]

Satish Sangameswaran