Democratizing AI: Satya Nadella on AI vision and societal impact at DLD

Artificial intelligence needs be adopted across the world to make sure it helps as many people as possible, Microsoft’s Chief Executive Officer told attendees at a leading European innovation conference in Germany this week.

Speaking to The Economist’s Ludwig Siegele during a “fireside chat” at the DLD digital conference in Munich on Monday, Satya Nadella outlined the importance of democratizing AI, making it available to everyone, so that AI can move from a centralized tool, to one which can be used in fields such as healthcare, education, manufacturing, retail and more. The ultimate aim, is sharing AI’s power with the masses, allowing anyone and everyone to build the AI systems they need.

Pointing to Microsoft’s beginnings as a tools company, Nadella shared Microsoft’s focus on democratizing AI, putting the tools “…in the hands of every developer, every organization, every public sector organization around the world”” to build their own intelligence and AI capability.

Nadella went on to say that he believes there is potential to “…use AI to help humans in whatever endeavor they are in and thereby drive productivity, thereby drive growth”. He also shared how Microsoft is infusing intelligence into all of its products, applications, services and experiences. For example, in a world where human time and attention is scarce, Nadella shared how an intelligent agent like Microsoft’s Cortana, that “knows you, knows the world and knows your work in particular can really help you get more done.” He also pointed to Microsoft’s investments in AI research, the most recent being last week’s acquisition of Canadian deep-learning start-up Maluuba.

Watch Satya Nadella’s full DLD talk here

With the democratization and widespread use of AI in all of these different areas, comes an important responsibility which Nadella addressed head-on, outlining the importance of creating a set of design principles and guidelines that should be discussed amongst the tech industry and society – for example, building AI that enhances human capability, and creating more trust in the technology with security and privacy features.

This commitment to privacy and transparency builds on Microsoft’s existing strong commitments to the privacy and security of its customers’ data – an area which Brad Smith, Microsoft’s President and Chief Legal Officer, talked about at DLD on Sunday.

Brad Smith
David Kirkpatrick (Techonomy) in conversation with Brad Smith (Microsoft, President) (Photo: picture alliance / Jan Haas) | Verwendung weltweit

Watch Brad Smith’s full DLD talk here

Speaking to Techonomy’s David Kirkpatrick, Smith talked about the impact of technological change on people and societies, and the challenges associated with them, and how current national laws need to be modernized to ensure that people’s rights and privacy are respected globally. His remarks built upon the recent release of Cloud for Global Good book, first announced in Ireland in October.

Smith also cited the example of Microsoft’s current datacenter partnership with Deutsche Telekom in Germany – a first-of-its-kind European model of data protection in which customer data remains under the control of the data trustee, providing an unparalleled level of privacy and security.

This commitment to privacy, coupled with Microsoft’s ambitions to spread incredibly useful technology such as AI to the masses, places the company in an incredibly strong and important position to spearhead the next era of technological change.

For more information on Microsoft in AI, please visit Microsoft’s Conversations on AI.