Bangkok Post

Microsoft to make AI mainstream

500m devices now run on Windows 10


SEATTLE: Microsoft Corp on Wednesday unveiled new tools intended to democratis­e artificial intelligen­ce by enabling machine smarts to be built into software from smartphone games to factory floors.

The US technology titan opened its annual Build Conference by highlighti­ng programmes with artificial intelligen­ce that could tap into services in the internet “cloud” and even take advantage of computing power in nearby machines.

“We are infusing AI into every product and service we offer,” said Microsoft executive vice president of artificial intelligen­ce and research Harry Shum.

“We’ve been creating the building blocks for the current wave of AI breakthrou­ghs for more than two decades.”

Microsoft research has gone deep into areas such as machine learning, speech recognitio­n, and enabling machines to recognise what they “see.”

“Now, we’re in the unique position of being able to use those decades of research breakthrou­ghs,” Shum said.

Microsoft rivals including, Apple Inc, Google and IBM Corp have all been aggressive­ly pursing the promise and potential of artificial intelligen­ce.

Artificial intelligen­ce is getting a foothold in people’s homes, with personal assistants answering questions and controllin­g connected devices such as appliances or light bulbs.

Digital assistants already boast features such as reminding people of appointmen­ts entered into calendars and chiming in with advice to set out early if traffic is challengin­g.

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella, who opened the Seattle conference, also highlighte­d the need to build trust in technology, saying new applicatio­ns must avoid the dystopian futures feared by some.

His presentati­on included images from George Orwell’s 1984 and Aldous Huxley’s Brave New World to underscore the issue of responsibi­lity of those creating new technologi­es.

“What Orwell prophesied in 1984, where technology was being used to monitor, control, dictate, or what Huxley imagined we may do just by distractin­g ourselves without any meaning or purpose,” Nadella said.

“Neither of these futures is something that we want... The future of computing is going to be defined by the choices that

you as developers make and the impact of those choices on the world.”

Microsoft’s aim on Wednesday was on businesses and software developers, whether they be students building a fun app or profession­al technology teams.

“Microsoft is trying to use AI for businesses to solve business problems and app developers to make applicatio­ns better,” said Moor Insights and Strategy principal analyst Patrick Moorhead.

“Which is different from Amazon, Facebook, and Google whose primary business model is to mine personal informatio­n using AI to sell you things or put ads in front of you.”

Microsoft is taking a unique approach by letting developers customise gesture commands, voice recognitio­n and more instead of making them conform to settings in “off-the-shelf” AI, according to the analyst.

Microsoft executives used demonstrat­ions to provide a glimpse into a near future in which artificial intelligen­ce hosted online works with internet linked devices such as constructi­on site cameras to alert workers of dangers, available tools, or unauthoris­ed activities.

Devices like smart surveillan­ce cameras, smartphone­s, or factory floor machines were referred to as “edge computing,” with the coordinati­on of cloud power and intelligen­t edge devices improving productivi­ty and safety on the ground.

Nadella also told developers that some 500 million devices now run on Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 operating system, creating a huge audience for their software creations.

Microsoft’s online Office 365 service has some 100 million commercial users monthly, while Cortana digital assistant is used by 140 million people monthly, according to the Redmond, Washington­based technology firm.

“The future is a smart cloud,” Nadella said, forecastin­g a future in which mobile devices take back seats to digital assistants hosted in the cloud that follow people from device to device. “It is a pretty amazing world you can create using intelligen­t cloud and intelligen­t edge.”

 ??  ?? Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp, opens the US technology titan’s annual Build Conference in Seattle on Wednesday with a focus on a future rich with artificial intelligen­ce that follows people from device to device.
Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft Corp, opens the US technology titan’s annual Build Conference in Seattle on Wednesday with a focus on a future rich with artificial intelligen­ce that follows people from device to device.

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