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Salesforce’s Benioff calls artificial intelligence a new human right

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The next tech divide could be between those who have access to artificial intelligence and those who do not, Salesforce CEO Marc Benioff warned on Wednesday.

Artificial intelligence is becoming a “new human right,” and everybody will need access to it, Benioff said in a speech at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland.

“Today, only a few countries and only a few companies have the very best artificial intelligence in the world,” Benioff said. “Those who have the artificial intelligence will be smarter, will be healthier, will be richer, and of course, you’ve seen their warfare will be significantly more advanced.”

By contrast, those who do not have access to AI will be “weaker and poorer, less educated and sicker,” he said.

“We must ask ourselves, is this the kind of world we want to live in?” Benioff said. “This can be seen right where I live in San Francisco, where we truly have a crisis of inequality.”

Salesforce hired a new executive to guide its AI efforts

Debate has already emerged about the ethics of AI and the possibility that it can be used for harm, for example, in warfare. To tackle these questions and to guide its use of the technology, Salesforce in December hired its first chief ethical and humane use officer.

Read this: Salesforce is hiring its first chief ethical and humane use officer to make sure its artificial intelligence isn’t used for evil

“AI is technology like none of us have ever seen, and none of us can truly say where it’s going,” Benioff said. “But we do know this: Technology is never good or bad. It’s what we do with the technology that matters.”

AI isn’t the only divide the tech industry is grappling with. Companies in the industry are facing a crisis of trust in the wake of privacy breaches and the mishandling of data, Benioff said.

Benioff has becoming increasingly vocal about economic and other inequalities. Last fall, he was a major proponent of a measure in San Francisco that would tax large companies to help the city deal with its growing homelessness problem.

Some other tech figures followed his lead in making pledges to benefit the homeless, while other CEO’s disagreed with the approach.

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