Microsoft CEO Bashes Human-Like AI After OpenAI's Scarlett Johansson Scandal

I, Robot

After OpenAI got in trouble for copying actor Scarlett Johansson's voice for a new ChatGPT voice assistant, the head honcho at Microsoft — a major investor and close partner of OpenAI — bashed human-like AIs in a surprising interview on Monday.

"I don't like anthropomorphizing AI," Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told Bloomberg Television. "I sort of believe it's a tool."

"It has got intelligence, if you want to give it that moniker, but it’s not the same intelligence that I have," he added, while also dinging the term "artificial intelligence."

"I think one of the most unfortunate names is ‘artificial intelligence’ — I wish we had called it ‘different intelligence,'" he said. "Because I have my intelligence. I don’t need any artificial intelligence."

We aren't privy into any tension in the relationship between Microsoft and OpenAI, but perhaps this interview is a quiet glimmer of a debate happening amongst machine learning scientists and engineers at both companies as they push AI's capabilities — especially as advanced voice assistants become more commonplace, even cribbing from actual humans like in the Scarlett Johansson fiasco.

Human or Not

Applying human attributes to AI has been an ongoing phenomenon as the technology gets ever more sophisticated. Remember the case of Google engineer Blake Lemoine, who thought his company's AI tool LaMDA was sentient and was put on paid leave after he privately presented his findings to Google, prompting him to go public and for Google to fire him?

But can anybody blame him?

We have people flocking to AI girlfriends for companionship and the founder of Bumble predicting that people's AIs will date other people's AIs, making the dating scene even more dystopian.

And even at Microsoft, the tendency to anthropomorphize AI has snuck in — remember Tay, the infamous chatbot who quickly became racist when interacting with Twitter users back in 2016?

Despite Nadella's assertion that it's just a tool, the horse is out of the barn.

But he is right that AI is a different type of intelligence, and while people debate whether Artificial General Intelligence (AGI) will ever happen, the most pressing issue isn't whether we should anthropomorphize AI, but whether we should have AI replace humans — from Scarlett Johansson's voice to warehouse workers.

More on OpenAI: Machine Learning Researcher Links OpenAI to Drug-Fueled Sex Parties