Last week we had the pleasure of introducing Cindy Rose OBE, CEO of Microsoft UK to Tramshed Tech to meet members of our amazing community and show her some of the great work being done here across the Tech scene, particularly in A.I. and Machine Learning.

We sat down with Cindy Rose to talk about the growing impact of Artificial Intelligence for both businesses and society on a grand scale. We touched upon the risk of unintended consequences of A.I. technology and how we should be upskilling the next generation of employees entering the Future of Work.

Transcript of video interview with Cindy Rose.

“Let me say how excited we are for A.I. we see it impacting so many of our customers, in every industry sector you can imagine from; commercial, to public sector. Companies big and small are seeing opportunities to use A.I.: to take cost out of their business; drive the productivity of their people; and come up with new revenue streams and business models.

I think the economic opportunity around A.I. is really exciting. But the other side of it is really the soceital benefits that we see. We have a big programme at Microsoft called ‘A.I. for Good’ which has lots of different aspects to it: sustainability, A.I. for the Earth; potential aid, we’re putting computer vision cameras powered by A.I. on drones and we’re sending them in to disaster relief areas so that we can map routes to people in need of aid.

The other area where we see a lot of promise is A.I. for accesibility, so people with disabilities of all descriptions; the visially impaired for example can use an application we’ve developed called seeing A.I. which basically narrates the World in audio so that they can read newspapers, go to the supermarket, go to the park, understand what is in front of them. This ability for A.I. to improve the quality of people’s lives is probably the most profound and impactful opportunity.

The flipside to all that opportunity, is the risk of unintended consequences. We’re not blind to the fact that there is a risk there, that things like chatbots may start to impact on the traditional job market. We see that happening already and that trend, I suspect will continue. To mitigate the impact of that risk, I think immediately leads you down the road of investing in skills and making sure that kids coming out of school understand the fourth industrial revolution; which is why I was in a school this morning talking about Big Data, Cloud computing, Internet of Things, A.I., machine learning… Kids need to know this stuff.

Civil servants that work in the public sector need to be reskilled so they understand the technology trends that are coming. There are IT departments in every business, in every sector who need to upskill and reskill. Theres IT professionals that need to refresh, and we’re really comitted to doing that through our apprenticship programme, our A.I. Academy, our digital skills programme. I think that is our unique role, to invest in upskilling in each of the markets we are operating in.

But there are lots of potential for unintended consequences, even beyond the impact on traditional job markets and I think we just need to be aware of and talk openly so that people don’t become so distrustful of the technology that they don’t use it. And we see potential risk in all sorts of areas, you got to make sure your A.I. protects peoples privacy. You have to make sure that it is transparent and accountable, that a human being remains accountable for the technology.

You have to make sure its operating in a way that is not biased. We know that the underlying data is full of bias. We know that because it was collected over the year by humans, and humans are inherently biased! So how do we make sure A.I. doesn’t insitutionalise and amplyfi the existing bias in the underlying data? How do you design your A.I. so that it programs out the bias that is in the data? We just need to elevate the conversation, talk about it and figure out how we address it so that people don’t lose trust in the technology.”