Microsoft Streamline AI Adoption
Artificial intelligence, or AI, has begun to see incorporation into more and more of the technologies we use every day. What not too long ago seemed like a futuristic fantasy has become a reality. Although the technology has been incorporated at an increasing rate into our smartphones, software programs and other products, Microsoft wants to streamline that implementation.
The Future Is a Smart Cloud
That’s what Microsoft executives told attendees at its 2017 Build conference, an event the company held for developers in Seattle recently.
The company is incorporating AI into all of its products, from Microsoft Office and Bing to Xbox. In some of those products, AI's presence is fairly obvious. In others, like Microsoft Word, it might be subtler. In Word, AI helps the program provide better grammar suggestions.
As AI becomes omnipresent, the cloud will help it all become connected. This is where the idea of the “smart cloud” comes in. This is the notion Microsoft’s vision for the future hinges on. The concept is centered on the collaboration of the cloud, AI, data and devices.
This connection through the cloud may help AI technology become more widely available and more effective. Devices could potentially borrow capabilities and even computing power from other devices as well as share data and learn from each other.
What This Means for Developers
Through this cloud-based infrastructure, Microsoft is aiming to make AI technologies available to all developers and allow them to innovate using the company’s platform.
Instead of restricting developers to pre-programmed requirements, Microsoft is seeking to allow them to customize voice recognition, gesture commands and other aspects of AI technology.
According to Microsoft, around 500 million devices now use the company’s most recent Windows 10 operating system. Plus, its online Office 365 service has about 100 million commercial users every month and 140 million people use the Cortana digital assistant each month.
This gives developers a large user base with which to train their AI creations. Theoretically, the more people use them, the better they’ll become.
Microsoft even announced the launch of Azure Batch AI Training, a program that allows developers to train AI models without having to worry about the underlying groundwork.
What This Means for Consumers
While most of the announcements at the Build conference were aimed at developers, they’ll potentially have some impact on consumers as well. Some of the innovations that result from the creation of the “smart cloud” may end up being used by everyday consumers.
While Microsoft regularly updates its Office programs, independent developers may be able to innovate many other ways to get more out of Office 365.
What This Means for Society
Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella opened the Build conference on perhaps a bit of a surprising note. While the Microsoft leader did speak on AI and the company’s plans for the future, he also emphasized the responsibility developers have to avoid a dystopian future. He even used images from Orwell's “1984” and Huxley's “Brave New World” to help make his point.
Developers, he said, have power over what technology is used for and society has a responsibility to mitigate any harm it may cause, such as the loss of blue-collar jobs.
While we certainly don’t know where technology will take us in the future, it’s pretty easy to see that we need to do our best to maximize its positive impacts while avoiding and alleviating the negative.
The combination of cloud, artificial intelligence and the myriad of devices we have available to us could make for either an exciting or terrifying future. By making its technologies more widely available to developers, Microsoft is putting more of the responsibility in the hands of ordinary people.
By Kayla Matthews