“To advance ethical AI requires conversations not only between technologists, governments, NGOs, & educators, but also philosophers & spiritual leaders.” Brad Smith – President at Microsoft Corporation
About Brad Smith:
Bradford Lee Smith (born January 17, 1959) is an American attorney and technology executive currently serving as President of Microsoft, concurrently serving as chief legal officer.
Smith joined Microsoft in 1993. For three years he led its Legal and Corporate Affairs team in Europe, then five years as deputy general counsel, before being named general counsel in 2002 and senior vice president. As Microsoft’s general counsel, Smith worked as lawyer, politician, and diplomat. In 2001, Microsoft had just settled United States v. Microsoft Corp., a four-year antitrust battle about bundling the Internet Explorer web browser with the Microsoft Windows operating system. Smith’s application for the job in late 2001 included a PowerPoint presentation of a single slide that said: “time to make peace.” Microsoft chairman Bill Gates and CEO Steve Ballmer agreed. Smith has been described as conciliatory toward competitors and regulators. He led negotiations to settle cases with several of Microsoft’s competitors, including AOL Time-Warner, Sun Microsystems, and Be Inc., paying $5 billion to plaintiffs, aiming for win-win resolutions, and garnering praise from their chief counsels. Smith also oversaw negotiations with the European Commission over antitrust accusations, meeting foreign leaders, lobbying, and settling most issues in 2010.
Internally, Smith pushed for diversity within the company’s legal division, making executive bonuses dependent on Microsoft and associated law firms’ increasing employment of racial minority, women, and LGBT employees, and committing pro bono hours for immigrants. In 2008, the goals were not met, and Microsoft executives donated their bonuses to charity; the diversity goals were met every subsequent year. In 2013, the National Law Journal named him one of “The 100 Most Influential Lawyers in America”.
By 2014, Smith was the longest serving member of Microsoft’s top leadership, and considered “a de facto ambassador for the technology industry at large,” winning plaudits for diplomacy from State Department officials like Anne-Marie Slaughter and Stuart Eizenstat. He filed four different lawsuits defending customer data against the US government from 2013 to 2016 and was a noted supporter of Apple Inc. when the FBI demanded access to a locked iPhone. He was able to organize a Reform Government Surveillance coalition including rivals such as Google, Yahoo!, and Apple, Inc. to support Microsoft in Microsoft Corp. v. United States, an ongoing case initially filed in 2013 in which the company challenges the right of the United States to get access to a user email stored in Ireland.
Smith was promoted to president and chief legal officer of Microsoft in 2015 by CEO Satya Nadella, becoming the first President of Microsoft since Richard Belluzzo in 2002. In these roles, Smith is responsible for Microsoft’s corporate, external, and legal affairs, and is also the firm’s chief compliance officer. Within three months in his new position, Smith announced the launch of Microsoft Philanthropies, a branch of the company dedicated to donating money and services to the public good. In the following two years, Microsoft Philanthropies donated tens of millions in grants to education and refugee organizations, and hundreds of millions in Microsoft Azure cloud computing services to nonprofits and researchers.