“The next 25 years will be known as the period of time where we started to work with machines in a way that accelerates human thinking and capabilities,” Eric Horvitz says. For decades, Horvitz has been following AI in awe—from his neurobiology laboratory as an undergraduate student to today as Microsoft’s Chief Scientific Officer.

In this episode, Horvitz explains why generative AI is a tool most likely to contribute to human flourishing—that is, achieving our deepest desires. Human and AI collaboration will ultimately propel all critical industries, including business, economics, medicine, education, engineering, and law.

Horvitz is the latest guest on Microsoft’s WorkLab podcast, in which host Molly Wood has conversations with economists, technologists, and researchers who explore the data and insights about the work trends you need to know today—from how to use AI effectively to what it takes to thrive in our new world of work.

Three big takeaways from the conversation:

  1. Horvitz believes that AI can supercharge human thinking along multiple dimensions. Instead of focusing on potential dangers, he says we should think about how right now may be the “early glimmers of a time where we take our machines to a whole new level that influences society in a deeply positive way.”

  2. AI is perhaps the world’s best “ideas processor.” Think: a word processor but on a greater scale. “Human intellect is still one of the biggest mysteries of all time to our leading scientists who study human cognition,” Horvitz says. “In fact, our creativity and ability to synthesize new ideas from existing ideas is what really makes us human. The machines we’re building now can help us process ideas faster and in richer contexts to achieve the world that we desire.”

  3. As founder and chair of Microsoft’s Aether Committee, which is devoted to the ethical and responsible development of generative AI, Horvitz and his colleagues worked with Satya Nadella and senior leaders of the company to develop Microsoft’s six AI principles: fairness, inclusiveness, accountability, privacy and security, reliability and safety, and transparency. “They’ve stood the test of time, and they will continue to stand the test of time,” he says.

WorkLab is a place for experts to share their insights and opinions. As students of the future of work, Microsoft values inputs from a diverse set of voices. That said, the opinions and findings of the experts we interview are their own and do not reflect Microsoft’s own research or opinions.

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Here’s a transcript of the episode 6 conversation.

MOLLY WOOD: This is WorkLab, the podcast from Microsoft. I’m your host, Molly Wood. On WorkLab, we hear from experts about the future of work, from how to use generative AI effectively to what it takes to thrive in our new world of work. 

ERIC HORVITZ: I believe deeply that these machines can supercharge human thinking, and that where we are now with this technology will be recognizable 500 years from now.