Books  |  ,   |  January 19, 2018

The Future Computed: Artificial intelligence and its role in society

Book written and published by Microsoft.
Foreword by Brad Smith, Microsoft president and chief legal officer, and Harry Shum, executive vice president of Microsoft’s Artificial Intelligence and Research group.
149 pages.


Thanks to advances in the past few years, we’re beginning to build systems that can perceive, learn and reason, and on this basis, can make predictions or recommendations. Nearly every field of human endeavor could benefit from AI systems designed to complement human intelligence. From preventing once-deadly diseases, to enabling people with disabilities to participate more fully in society, to creating more sustainable ways to use the earth’s scarce resources, AI promises a better future for all.

Change of this magnitude inevitably gives rise to societal issues. The computer era has required us to grapple with important questions about privacy, safety, security, fairness, inclusion, and the importance and value of human labor. All of these questions will take on particular importance as AI systems become more useful and are more widely deployed. To ensure that AI can deliver on its promise, we must find answers that embrace the full range of human hopes, needs, expectations and desires.

This will take a human-centered approach to AI that reflects timeless values. And it will take an approach that is firmly centered on harnessing the power of computational intelligence to help people. The idea isn’t to replace people with machines, but to supplement human capabilities with the unmatched ability of AI to analyze huge amounts of data and find patterns that would otherwise be impossible to

How AI will change our lives — and the lives of our children — is impossible to predict. But we can look to Melisha’s device — a device that could help millions of small farmers in remote communities live more prosperously — to see one example of what can happen when human intelligence and imagination are augmented by the power of AI.

We believe there are millions of Melishas around the world — people young and old who have imaginative ideas for how to harness AI to address societal challenges. Imagine the insight that will be unleashed if we can give them all access to the tools and capabilities that AI offers. Imagine the problems they will solve and the innovations they will create.

This won’t happen by itself. A human-centered approach can only be realized if researchers, policymakers, and leaders from government, business and civil society come together to develop a shared ethical framework for artificial intelligence. This in turn will help foster responsible development of AI systems that will engender trust. As we move forward, we look forward to working with people in all walks of life and every sector to develop and share best practices for building a foundation for human-centered AI that is trusted by all…

Table of Contents

Foreword: The Future Computed

The Future of Artificial Intelligence

  • Microsoft’s Approach to AI
  • The Potential of Modern AI – Addressing Societal Challenges
  • The Challenges AI Presents

Principles, Policies and Laws for the Responsible Use of AI

  • Ethical and Societal Implications
  • Developing Policy and Law for Artificial Intelligence
  • Fostering Dialogue and the Sharing of Best Practices

AI and the Future of Jobs and Work

  • The Impact of Technology on Jobs and Work
  • The Changing Nature of Work, the Workplace and Jobs
  • Preparing Everyone for the Future of Work
  • Changing Norms of Changing Worker Needs
  • Working Together

Conclusion: AI Amplifying Human Ingenuity