AI is changing how people create, work and engage with the world around them. But transformative technology always comes with risks. That’s why Microsoft has hundreds of employees tasked with making sure the new AI tools benefit society. Here’s how three of them view their roles:
Steph Ballard collaborates with people within and outside Microsoft to advance the company’s Responsible AI policies and practices — an effort she says comes out of “an enormous responsibility to get it right” as AI-enabled tools become more prevalent throughout society.
The Responsible AI Standard is like a map, Ballard says, that helps guide Microsoft teams through potential harms and benefits to find the best route forward as they develop and deploy AI systems.
Ballard uses the new Bing to help brainstorm ideas and find information more efficiently. So she appreciates knowing such AI systems are created by people with diverse perspectives and skillsets to help ensure they are deployed responsibly.
For Sridhar Sriram, building this diversity is the focus of his work. As the coordinator of Microsoft’s global Responsible AI Champions program, Sriram helps ensure the company’s readiness to put its principles into practice by equipping employees in various roles with the right tools and resources.
“As a tech and policy nerd in my undergrad and grad studies, it’s personally fulfilling to be walking the walk of responsible AI” in his career, Sriram says, adding that Microsoft’s investment in responsible AI practices has spread across the company over the past seven years.
Sriram has also seen the benefits of AI spread in his work, where it’s helping him better structure his schedule and make sure tasks don’t slip through the cracks, as well as in the kitchen, where it’s helping the avid cook and baker experiment with new food and flavor pairings.
Ece Kamar has spent years working within Microsoft’s Responsible AI ecosystem. She oversees research on human-centered AI for Microsoft, is a deputy director for the Microsoft Research Lab and is a technical advisor to Aether, the committee on AI, ethics and effects in engineering and research.
AI tools have become such a crucial element of life that she takes her work home with her: the new Bing helps her help her child with homework. “Bing does a great job in translating math concepts to the language of a 9-year-old and giving ideas about how to explain hard concepts,” Kamar says.
Even though Kamar’s Responsible AI work isn’t new, she says she’s constantly revising and diversifying her understanding of the risks and mitigations. “I feel a big responsibility for our society and future generations,” she says, “to ensure that the technology we build benefits everyone.”
Learn more about AI at Microsoft.