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AI will be the next industrial revolution, says Microsoft UK boss

Microsoft AI
Microsoft UK CEO Clare Barclay at London Tech Week. Image credit: London Tech Week

Developments in generative AI could lead to a shift in the world of work akin to the industrial revolutions of the past, according to the CEO of Microsoft UK.

Speaking at London Tech Week 2023, Clare Barclay described how the tech firm – which is the largest investor in generative AI company OpenAI – envisioned the technology impacting the future of work.

“[Generative AI] will be the most significant inflection point in our lifetimes,” Barclay said. “It will define the world of work for years to come.”

The Microsoft UK chief executive said that one of the greatest challenges in the world of work that needs to be resolved is employee burnout.

Barclay cited figures collected by Microsoft that showed 64% of employees don’t have the time or energy to manage their workloads.

Barclay suggested the burdens facing modern workers are in many ways comparable to the agricultural and manufacturing workers that directly preceded historical industrial revolutions.

She said that far from hurting jobs, the advent of the AI revolution would not only create work but redefine it.

Despite this, she said this future has to be “underpinned by strong, ethical frameworks and really strong ethical principles, hence why we very much welcome the work of the government that the prime minister talked about earlier on”.

The keynote also included a demonstration of Microsoft’s upcoming generative AI tool, currently called Copilot.

The demo included using the tool to draft a sales proposal in Word, instant notetaking for Teams meetings, and an email assistant that combs through Outlook inboxes.

The UKTN team will be reporting from London Tech Week throughout the event. Subscribe to the daily newsletter to stay up to date