Microsoft has no plans on quitting China, or reducing the amount of research it does in the country, despite the constant deterioration of the relations between the two countries.
Speaking to the BBC, the company's CEO Satya Nadella said that he understands the potential risk, but believes the benefit outweighs the risks. He also said that there are ways to make sure the tools they build don't get turned into weapons.
“A lot of AI research happens in the open, and the world benefits from knowledge being open,” he said. "That to me is been what's been true since the Renaissance and the scientific revolution. Therefore, I think, for us to say that we will put barriers on it may in fact hurt more than improve the situation everywhere.”
Speaking about potential risks of working with the Chinese, Nadella acknowledged it, but stressed that there are ways to limit possible troubles:
“We know any technology can be a tool or a weapon,” he told the BBC.
“The question is, how do you ensure that these weapons don't get created? I think there are multiple mechanisms. The first thing is we, as creators, should start with having a set of ethical design principles to ensure that we're creating AI that's fair, that's secure, that's private, that's not biased.”
"We also recognise whether it's in the United States, whether it's in China, whether it's in the United Kingdom, they will all have their own legislative processes on what they accept or don't accept, and we will abide by them.”
Western companies have often been criticised, both by their own employees, as well as by the general public, of working with the Chinese government who's notorious for violating human rights. They were also criticised when working with military institutions, saying they dislike the idea of their work being used to kill people.
You can read the entire interview here.