Microsoft unveiled Wednesday new tools to democratize artificial intelligence by enabling machine intelligence to integrate software ranging from smartphone games to factory floor.
The American technology titan opened its annual construction conference by highlighting programs with artificial intelligence that could exploit cloud-based Internet services and even take advantage of computer power in nearby machines.
“We infuse the AI into all the products and services we offer,” said Microsoft’s Executive Vice President on Artificial Intelligence and Research Harry Shum.
“We have created the building blocks of the current wave of AI breakthroughs for more than two decades.”
Microsoft research has developed in areas such as machine learning, speech recognition and machines to recognize what they “see”.
“Now we are in the unique position of being able to use these decades of research breakthroughs,” Shum said.
Microsoft’s rivals, including Amazon, Apple, Google and IBM, have all actively embraced the promise and potential of artificial intelligence.
Artificial intelligence fits in the homes of people, personal assistants answering questions and controlling connected devices such as appliances or light bulbs.
Digital assistants already have features such as reminding people of appointments entered into calendars and appealing with tips to start early if traffic is difficult.
Heading towards “1984”
Microsoft’s chief executive, Satya Nadella, who opened the Seattle conference, also stressed the need to create confidence in technology, saying new applications should avoid future dystopics that some fear.
Nadella’s presentation included images of George Orwell “1984” and “Brave New World” by Aldous Huxley to emphasize the responsibility of those who create new technologies.
“What Orwell prophesied in 1984,” where technology was used to monitor, control, dictate or what Huxley imagined we can do simply by distracting us with no meaning or purpose, “said Nadella.
“None of these futures is anything we want … The future of computing will be defined by the choices you as developers make and the impact these choices have on the world.”
The goal of Microsoft was on Wednesday on business and software developers, whether they be students who create a fun application or professional technology teams.
“Microsoft is trying to use AI for businesses to solve business problems and application developers to improve their applications,” said Patrick Moorhead, senior analyst at Moor Insights and Strategy.
“What is different from Amazon, Facebook and Google, whose main business model is to conduct personal information using AI to sell you things or put advertisements in front of you.”
Microsoft takes a unique approach by allowing developers to customize gesture commands, speech recognition and more instead of making them conform to out-of-band AI parameters, according to the analyst.
Microsoft executives used demonstrations to provide insight into a near future in which hosted online artificial intelligence works with Internet-related devices such as site cameras to alert workers of dangers, tools available or Unauthorized activities.
Devices such as intelligent surveillance cameras, smartphones or factory floor machines have been called “on-board computing”, with the coordination of cloud power and intelligent edge devices improving productivity and safety on field.
Windows Numbers Rise
Nadella also told developers that some 500 million devices are now running on Microsoft’s latest Windows 10 operating system, creating a large audience for their software creations.
The Microsoft Office 365 online service has about 100 million commercial users each month, while the Cortana digital assistant is used by 140 million people per month, according to the Redmond technology firm in Washington.
“The future is a smart cloud,” said Nadella, foreshadowing a future in which mobile devices hold seats to digital assistants hosted in the cloud that follow people from one device to another.
“It’s a very amazing world you can create using an intelligent cloud and a smart edge.”