Microsoft puts AI front and centre at Future Decoded

Microsoft kicked off its Future Decoded event at the ExCel Centre in London today with a raft of keynotes from executives and customers, with a hefty chunk focusing on Artificial Intelligence (AI).

After a quick introduction in which Cindy Rose - the CEO of Microsoft UK - spoke about how the company is "not immune from the waves of disruption" and is "seeking to not only embrace, but lead these waves of change," Chris Bishop took to the stage to talk about AI.

As scientist and lab director at Microsoft Cambridge, Bishop is in charge of Microsoft's AI and machine learning research and spoke about the goal to “empower ever person and every organisation on the planet to achieve more” through these types of technologies.

“Artificial intelligence is a very powerful and very broadly applicable technology," he said. "Over the coming years and decades it will transform nearly every aspect of our lives, so it’s not surprising that there’s a lot of debate and discussion about the future implications of artificial intelligence in the long term for our society.

“Microsoft’s approach to AI is based not on replacing people with machines, but using Ai to empower people to achieve more for themselves and for their businesses.”

According to Microsoft, AI has three core design principles. It should:

  • Augment human ability and experiences
  • Be trustworthy
  • Be inclusive and respectful

And there are four key "pillars" that the company is focusing on: Digital agents (i.e. chatbots rather than actual people), applications, services and infrastructure.

Bishop cited examples such as keyboard app SwiftKey, cancer treatment research project InnerEye and the company's own digital agent - which is looking to provide "frictionless human-like conversations with customers" - as examples of its AI focus.

Pretty much every technology company seems to be looking at AI in some way at the moment and Microsoft is certainly doing its best to prepare for this next revolution.

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