Microsoft and its competitors urged companies to refrain from implementing artificial intelligence systems that replace employees, rather than relieving them from mundane tasks and enhancing their efficiency.

The statement was made by Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer, Satya Nadella, in an interview Monday at the DLD Conference in Munich, Bloomberg reports.

“The fundamental need of every person is to be able to use their time more effectively, not to say, ‘let us replace you’,” Nadella said. “This year and the next will be the key to democratising AI”.

“The most exciting thing to me is not just our own promise of AI as exhibited by these products, but to take that capability and put it in the hands of every developer and every organisation,” Nadella said.

According to Bloomberg, Nadella is working towards pushing his company into consumer and industrial applications of software that can make inferences about its environment.

During the speech he warned his company, as well as his competitors, about applying “parlor tricks”, that emphasises the power of AI, without ensuring that the dignity of the workers is safeguarded.

Following Microsoft’s Nadella’s quote on Monday, IBM’s Chief Executive, Ginni Rometty said on Tuesday that advances in AI will lead to job losses, but that new forms of employment will take their place.

In order for AI, such as IBM’s Watson to succeed, companies need to focus on building the trust of its prospective users, Ms Rometty said during her speech at the World Economic Forum panel in Davos, Switzerland.

“It’s not man or machine,” Rometty said. “It’s a symbiotic relationship. Our purpose is to augment and be in service of what humans do.”

A common thread throughout the panel debate, chaired by Microsoft’s Nadella, Massachusetts Institute of Technology Media Lab director Joichi Ito and HealthTap Inc. CEO Ron Gutman, was the fear of AI replacing jobs.

The panelists agreed that artificial intelligence does offer a wide range of benefits for employees in areas such as finance, healthcare, and education, but that it is essential to conduct extensive testing on these applications to ensure that the users have a safe experience, Wall Street Journal writes.

“The software engineering infrastructure is where we have to make a lot of investments,” Mr. Nadella said. “You can’t make mistakes.”

Ms. Rometty did admit that some jobs will eventually become obsolete due to the implementing of AI, but referred to how technological breakthroughs are not new to us, and that over the years, these advances have led to new employment opportunities.

“There’s so much fear about jobs, but most of us will be working with these systems”, Rometty said.