Microsoft to teach computers human language via AI bots: CEO Satya Nadella
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday said that the company was trying to teach computers more of human language to make computing faster and interacting with them more natural and easier than ever using artificial intelligence assistants like Cortana.tech Updated: May 31, 2016 07:47 IST
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Monday said that the company was trying to teach computers more of human language to make computing faster and interacting with them more natural and easier than ever using artificial intelligence assistants like Cortana.
Cortana, a virtual assistant and comparable to Apple’s Siri and Google Now, is an intelligence programme that runs on most Windows devices and mostly helps in getting tasks done by speech recognition.
In his drive to speak about the development of a robust conversation platform that works via speech recognition and augmented or virtual reality, the CEO quoted one of the finest poems of the 19th century ‘shayar’ Mirza Ghalib to drive home the power of dreams to youngsters of the country. “Hazaaron khwaishein aisi, ke har khwaish pe dum nikle. Bohot nikle mere armaan, fir bhi kam nikle” (I have a thousand desires, all desires worth dying for, though many of my desires were fulfilled, a majority remained unfulfilled).
In between, he also spoke about his and the company’s dreams – about future apps to help drive innovation and empower the people of India.
Coming after Apple CEO Tim Cook’s and Dell Inc’s Michael Dell’s trips to India, Nadella arrived in India for just a day in the backdrop of the company’s attempts to source the app development talent pool in the country and as well as drive its productivity services including cloud.
“....what if we taught all the computers around us and all the computing, human language. Think about the kinds of applications you could build, but more importantly, think about what it does to democratising the experience. Instead of us having the cognitive know as users of learning new shell constructs, downloading icon after icons, and screen after screens of apps, what if all you did was spoke or texted and you were able to get the work done. That’s the world I think you can create,” the chief executive said addressing app developers.
He added that developers could in fact build bots that have fundamental understanding of human language - just like how websites were built in the past, just like how developers built mobile apps in the past. “You are going to build these bot interfaces that understand human dialogue. And, it’s going to be a pretty profound shift in how computing is experienced by everybody. It’s probably going to be the most democratizing force and make it accessible to anybody, who is 80 years old or an 8-year- old,” the Indian-born Nadella on his third visit to the country since taking charge of the software giant.
What he meant was that the company was looking at giving equal opportunities for developers to access Microsoft technology which in turn will help people in day-to-day lives.
“It is not about celebrating our own technology, it is about celebrating the technology that India creates,” he said during his keynote at Microsoft’s ‘Tech for Good, Ideas for India’ conference where he met students, young achievers, developers and entrepreneurs. During a question and answer session, Nadella asked youngsters to “continue being bold and ambitious.”
Earlier in the day, the chief executive met telecommunications minister Ravi Shankar Prasad and is believed to have discussed the company’s participation in Digital India initiative.
Microsoft is already running pilot projects to bring low-cost solution to internet connectivity in India. Last year, it launched the TV White Spaces technology that uses unutilised low-band frequency to transmit data. The initiative has found more favour with the Indian government than rival Google’s Project Loon and Facebook’s Free Basics programme.
“CEO @Microsoft @satyanadella met me today. Discussed in enhancing cooperation with Microsoft towards @_DigitalIndia,” Prasad tweeted.
Nadella met industry leaders during a conclave orgainsed by the Confederation of Indian Industry (CII) where he reiterated his vision of participating in Digital India. He also met Prime Minister Narendra Modi, a strong advocate of digital initiatives to enhance the quality of life. “Discussed various issues pertaining to the IT sector with @Microsoft CEO @satyanadella @MicrosoftIndia,” Modi tweeted after the meeting. PMO sources termed the meeting as a “courtesy call”.
The chief executive first visited India soon after taking over from Steve Ballmer as CEO in February, 2014. On the occasion of Microsoft’s 25 years in India, he had then launched three local data centres offering Azure cloud services. His second visit in December was a personal trip.
However, analysts see the visit as inconsequential just like Apple CEO Tim Cook’s visit whose main agenda was to push the sale of pre-owned refurbished iPhones and waiver of 30 percent domestic norms for exclusive Apple stores.
“Microsoft claims to empower every citizen and organisation in the country but has shared no clear roadmap on how it wants to go about it. The smartphones business is already struggling and I see no way how it would empower individuals,” Vishal Tripathi, research director at Gartner, said, adding that the company’s enterprise efforts were in the right direction especially cloud services which is challenging Jeff Bezos-owned Amazon’s Web Service (a cloud service by Amazon).
Faisal Kawoosa, Telecoms and SemiTronics (Semiconductor and Electronics) Practices at CyberMedia Research (CMR) also said that the company’s outlook towards enterprise services looked promising.
Meanwhile, Tarun Pathak, senior telecom analyst at Counterpoint Technology Market Research, said that Microsoft was planning to tap the internet connectivity market in the country which is currently just 350 million. “From the business perspective, it is a billion dollar opportunity. Apps and especially vernacular apps are the next focus area to tap into the under-penetrated internet population,” Pathak said adding that Microsoft Cloud services would also look to target more small and medium businesses (SMBs) which are a growing majority in India.