At Microsoft’s biggest conference, emphasis on AI and cloud services

Global Business

More than 6,000 software developers are in Seattle to attend Microsoft Build, the tech giant’s biggest conference of the year. Company CEO Satya Nadella laid out the road map for Microsoft future, while also announcing a few surprises.

CGTN’s Mark Niu reports from Seattle.

CEO Satya Nadella kicked off Microsoft with an admission that this is not the same old Microsoft.

“I was reading the news and I hear Gates is talking about stock. And he’s talking about the Apple stock. And I said Wow! In the 30 years, at least, since I’ve known Bill, I’ve never seen him talk about stocks. But today must be a new day for sure,” Nadella said.

Microsoft’s Chief Marketing Officer, Chris Capossela, said Nadella has brought new changes to Microsoft.

“This has been a wonderful culture change at Microsoft since Satya became our CEO, where he’s really ushered in this notion of embracing the platforms that exist on the planet,” Capossela said. “We make more applications for iOS than any other software company on the planet, whether it’s Outlook, Word, Machine Translation. You name it. We build more apps for Apple and Android than just about anyone else.”

Microsoft also revealed that they are reaching across the aisle to their in-state rival Amazon. Microsoft’s personal assistant Cortana can now open Amazon’s Alexa.

But at the heart of almost everything Microsoft unveiled or discussed on Monday was artificial intelligence and its cloud-based technology known as the intelligent-edge. In a climate that is currently rife with public distrust over data collection and monitoring, Nadella called privacy a human right and emphasized the need for ethical AI.

“We need to ask ourselves not only what computers can do, but what computers should do. That time has come. We have formed an ethics board inside the company which is a very diverse group of people who govern the products we build. We need good AI,” Nadella said.

Microsoft announced a $25 million program aimed at using AI to amplify human capabilities in people with disabilities. It also showed how the power of AI can be combined with drones to identify abnormalities in pipelines and potentially save companies millions of dollars.

In the board room, Microsoft also tried to show how their latest technology could shake Orwellian stigma and actually help people be more productive.

The company showed how people in a board room room can immediately be identified,­ everything said can be transcribed, and the room can recognize who is talking ­and simultaneously translate the conversation to another language — such as Chinese — something Microsoft claims is already on par with human abilities.