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Bringing back jobs means using artificial intelligence to stay competitive, executive says

Microsoft Ventures.
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Microsoft Ventures announces investment in Element AI

As president-elect Donald Trump looks to bring more jobs back to the U.S., he's also entering a race to use the world's best artificial intelligence, according to one executive.

"We're looking at a bunch of challenges, especially in the realm cybersecurity, where clearly this is a race to having the best technology," Jean-François Gagné, CEO of Element AI, told CNBC's "Squawk Alley" on Monday. "There's a lot of talk about re-shoring, and bringing back jobs. As you do that, you need to stay competitive. So you need to augment the workers, you need to prepare them, you need to provide them with better tools. And these are all areas where artificial intelligence can help a lot."

Element AI, a Montréal-based start-up that connects academic researchers and businesses using artificial intelligence, secured the first investment from a new fund by Microsoft Ventures, it announced on Monday.

Amid concerns that robots will replace human workers at an increasingly rapid pace thanks to artificial intelligence, Microsoft's new initiative aims to fund start-ups that build AI that has a positive impact on society.

To qualify, the companies must be "designed to assist humanity; be transparent; maximize efficiency without destroying human dignity; provide intelligent privacy and accountability for the unexpected; and be guarded against biases," Microsoft said in a statement. The investment expands Microsoft's start-up investing, which had previously focused on cloud companies.

It comes at a time when rivals like Google, Apple and Amazon have accelerated their efforts in artificial intelligence.

Of course, not all aspects of artificial intelligence have been well received by tech leaders, many of whom signed an open letter calling for AI systems that are "robust and beneficial [to society]." The letter included signatures of Microsoft researchers.

Microsoft has seen the pitfalls of artificial intelligence, after after a barrage of offensive Twitter comments earlier this year.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella told CNBC earlier this year that humans must focus on teaching machines to feel human-like empathy, curiosity and creativity. To that end, Microsoft has also been an active acquirer of artificial intelligence start-ups, according to CB Insights.

"The key is to connect with private data sets from large corporations — where there are a lot of great insights — and expose that to researchers, so people who are very knowledgeable about what's possible," Gagné said. "It's combining these two assets that allows us to create a unique business solution."