Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said during a taped interview with CNBC’s Andrew Ross Sorkin that what scares him most about artificial intelligence is “the entire society” has to come together to “maximize the opportunity and mitigate the dangers” of the technology,
“We definitely want the benefits of this technology and we want to mitigate the unintended consequences,” Nadella said in the interview that aired Tuesday. “The leadership that’s required and the coming together of all the parties that is required is challenging, but it has to be done.”
Lawmakers, thought leaders and developers have been puzzling over how to regulate emerging generative AI technology since it exploded into public consciousness following the release of OpenAI’s viral chatbot ChatGPT late last year.
The buzz around the technology has sparked a red-hot AI arms race between major tech companies like Google and Microsoft, the latter of which is a longtime partner of OpenAI. But the rapid pace of development has sparked concern among lawmakers and industry leaders like Tesla CEO Elon Musk, who was one of more than 27,000 people to sign an open letter in March that called on AI labs to pause development.
Nadella said AI development is happening quickly, but people remain integral to the process.
“If anything, I feel, yes, it’s moving fast, but moving fast in the right direction,” he said. “Humans are in the loop versus being out of the loop. It’s a design choice, which, at least, we have made.”
While caution and resistance have grown around AI, so, too, has the idea that the technology will be disruptive and game-changing. Tech executives and venture capitalists have compared the launch of ChatGPT to the release of Apple‘s iPhone, and billionaire philanthropist Bill Gates said in a February interview that AI “will change our world.”
Nadella said every time a new disruptive technology emerges, there is “real displacement” that can happen in the job market. But Nadella said he believes AI will also create new jobs.
“I mean, there can be a billion developers. In fact, the world needs a billion developers,” he said. “So the idea that this is actually a democratizing tool to make access to new technology and access to new knowledge easier, so that the ramp-up on the learning curve is easier.”
Nadella added that easier access to knowledge will also influence education.
He said children could eventually have access to an “AI tutor” that can break down information and eliminate the “fear of learning.” He said that critical thinking will still be “very much what humans do,” but that there is an opportunity to take advantage of new tools.
“Steve Jobs had this beautiful, beautiful line, right, which is ‘computers are like the bicycles for the mind,'” Nadella said. “We now have an upgrade, we have a steam engine for the mind.”
Clarification: This story has been updated to clarify that the interview was recorded in advance and aired Tuesday.