http://www.digitaljournal.com/tech-and-science/technology/satya-nadella-thinks-ai-is-the-ultimate-breakthrough/article/486369

Satya Nadella thinks AI is the 'ultimate breakthrough'

Posted Feb 21, 2017 by James Walker
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has described the advent of advanced artificial intelligence as the "ultimate breakthrough" in the development of technology. Microsoft is already actively working on new AI systems that manifest across its products.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking at the company's German headquarters in Berlin on November...
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella speaking at the company's German headquarters in Berlin on November 11, 2015
Gregor Fischer, DPA/AFP/File
As Mashable reports, Nadella made the comment while speaking at an event in India yesterday. The speech was streamed live on Microsoft Developers' Facebook page, starting Nadella's three-day visit to the country.
Nadella is far from the first to suggest AI will be the defining point of the future. His statement suggests Microsoft is continuing to make progress in developing AI systems though, implying the company is working to employ the technology across a wider range of its products. He noted that artificial intelligence will break down the fourth wall between you and the screen, enabling computers to talk like real people.
"For all the advances in computer interface, there is nothing to beat language," Nadella said during the discussion, held with Indian tech entrepreneur Nandan Nilekani, co-founder of Infosys.
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Nadella went on to explain how artificial intelligence is already powering many of Microsoft's consumer-facing apps. Using the company's Cortana digital assistant as an example, he suggested AI will usher in a new digital era where machines proactively work for you. Coming after the operating system and browser, the "third run time" of computing will focus on intelligent "agents" like Cortana.
"In some sense, the agent knows you, your work context, and knows the work," said Nadella. "And that’s how we are building Cortana. We are giving it a really natural language understanding."
Although Nadella is optimistic about AI's evolution, the leader has also previously expressed a desire to ensure the technology doesn't overstep the mark. Speaking in January, he noted that companies working in the field must avoid creating AI "parlor tricks" that end up being detrimental to human workforces. Microsoft wants artificial intelligence to help people in their work, rather than replace them outright.
Nadella continued the same message in India, saying it's important to be "grounded" when considering the future. He also warned against over-hyping the technology before it reaches its prime time, potentially leading to disappointment when it arrives. This effect has already been observed in other supposed technologies of the future, such as virtual reality.
Ending the event, Nadella announced a new partnership between Microsoft and Indian retailer Flipkart. It will see the company base its public cloud infrastructure on Microsoft's Azure servers.
Flipkart will leverage the power of Microsoft's cloud to augment the capabilities of its existing datacentres, adding new machine learning and analytics features. Much of this technology is powered by artificial intelligence, including algorithms in Microsoft's Power BI suite that surface trends in marketing, advertising and sales results.