Artificial intelligence (AI) at Microsoft is powered by – and for – people. Here’s how five of those people are using the defining technology of our time to develop innovative solutions to the world’s most challenging issues:
Liza Wood develops AI systems for Microsoft’s Community Sift program that help online communities reduce bullying, harassment and hate speech in their apps. Humans alone can’t possibly keep up with all the content, she says, even if each app had an unlimited number of employees to monitor it.
Wood uses AI to tackle time-consuming work in her hobbies, too. As a photographer, she uses software with AI systems trained to identify sky, for example, to try out different settings for dramatic effect, without the “tedious task” of manually separating sky from ground herself.
Juan Lavista Ferres is Microsoft’s chief data scientist and leads the AI for Good Lab. He and his team work on pressing global problems that AI is uniquely positioned to help solve, like making technology more accessible or helping to track climate change.
Lavista Ferres was born and raised in Uruguay, in South America, so English isn’t his native language. “AI models assist me in finding the appropriate terms to use,” he says, helping him better express himself in English and be more productive with research and coding.
Microsoft Technical Fellow Xuedong “XD” Huang is helping to bring cutting-edge advancements in areas like speech, translation and vision to customers. “AI’s most compelling value is its ability to augment human capability,” Huang says.
One of Huang’s lifelong goals is to help people communicate better. More than 40% of the world’s 7,000 languages are endangered, he says, but AI can help retain and teach those dialects, preserving languages at risk of being lost.
Working in Microsoft’s Office of Responsible AI, Maxwell Scott spends his days encouraging inclusion in the global AI policymaking process. It’s crucial to consider the nuanced social, economic and environmental factors in situations where AI is deployed, he says.
We need to make sure technology accounts for diverse perspectives, Scott says. “AI systems are only as good as the people who train them,” he says. They “need to be carefully designed to avoid bias.” 
AI doesn’t just help with words and images, says Ava Amini, a researcher with Microsoft Health Futures. She’s teaching it to work with biological data, too, analyzing readings from deep within the human body to help detect cancer earlier and design personalized, more effective therapies.
AI isn’t meant to mimic how we as humans think, Amini says. Instead it expands our capabilities so “we can better understand ourselves and our world and use that understanding to improve life and our society.”
Learn more about AI at Microsoft.