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Microsoft-backed start-up thinks AI is a good bet to save human jobs

Microsoft's venture capital arm has placed its first bet on a new way to keep jobs and create new ones — artificial intelligence.

Montreal, Canada-based start-up Element AI is the first investment in a new AI fund launched by Microsoft Ventures and far from a jobs killer, the start-up views the rise of AI as a human worker's best chance at remaining relevant.

"There's a lot of talk about bringing back jobs," Element AI CEO Jean-François Gagné told CNBC on Monday. "As you do that, you need to stay competitive. You need to augment the workers, provide them with better tools. These are all areas where AI can do a lot."

To start, Element AI plans to build upon local resources available in Montreal and foster the creation of hundreds of jobs over the next five years, helping to preserve local talent and boost the Canadian economy.

Element AI, which was just formed in October, works with large corporations and research institutes to help businesses identify opportunities to invest in AI.

Companies in Microsoft's AI venture fund will "help people and machines work together to increase access to education, teach new skills and create jobs, enhance the capabilities of existing workforces and improve the treatment of diseases, to name just a few examples," Nagraj Kashyap, corporate vice president of Microsoft Ventures, wrote in a blog post Monday.

"We'll make investments in startups that are responsibly harnessing the promise of AI to empower people and businesses," Kashyap wrote. "Together with Element AI, we can connect human and machine intelligence to fuel powerful solutions."

The new Microsoft Ventures' fund also aims to use AI to address issues like climate change, inequality, health and education.

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