Microsoft CEO: tech sector needs to prevent '1984' future (Update 2)

May 10, 2017
Microsoft, whose campus is shown in this 2014 picture, has told developers at its annual Build conference it wants to bring artificial intellience into the mainstream

Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella said Wednesday tech developers have a responsibility to prevent a dystopian "1984" future as the US technology titan unveiled a fresh initiative to bring artificial intelligence into the mainstream.

At the start of its annual Build Conference, Microsoft sought to showcase applications with artificial intelligence that could tap into services in the internet "cloud" and even take advantage of computing power in nearby machines.

Nadella spent time on stage at the Seattle conference stressing a need to build trust in technology, saying new applications must avoid dystopian futures feared by some.

Nadella's presentation included images from George Orwell's "1984" and Aldous Huxley's "Brave New World" to underscore the issue of responsibility of those creating new technologies.

"What Orwell prophesied in '1984,' where technology was being used to monitor, control, dictate, or what Huxley imagined we may do just by distracting ourselves without any meaning or purpose— neither of these futures is something that we want," he said

"The future of computing is going to be defined by the choices that you as developers make and the impact of those choices on the world."

There is much discussion in the tech world about what AI will mean for society, especially since it is quickly driving change that could eliminate jobs, with applications such as self-driving trucks or "bots" which take over many skilled functions.

"What happens to lower-level, blue-collar jobs that might be impacted?" Gartner research director of app design and development Jason Wong ask rhetorically.

"That is part of the dystopia that can occur because of the abruptness of AI; in less than a generation we will be seeing things like driverless cars."

AI everywhere

Microsoft is infusing all of its products and services with AI, and enabling those who develop on its platform to imbue creations with customized capabilities, according to executive vice president of artificial intelligence and research Harry Shum.

"We've been creating the building blocks for the current wave of AI breakthroughs for more than two decades," Shum said.

Microsoft research has gone deep into areas such as machine learning, speech recognition, and enabling machines to recognize what they "see."

"Now, we're in the unique position of being able to use those decades of research breakthroughs," Shum said.

Microsoft rivals including Amazon, Apple, Google and IBM have all been aggressively pursing the promise and potential of artificial intelligence.

Artificial intelligence is getting a foothold in people's homes, with personal assistants answering questions and controlling connected devices such as appliances or light bulbs.

Digital assistants already boast features such as reminding people of appointments entered into calendars and chiming in with advice to set out early if traffic is challenging.

Cloud touching ground

Microsoft's aim on Wednesday was on businesses and software developers, whether they be students building mobile games or professional technology teams.

"Microsoft is trying to use AI for businesses to solve business problems and app developers to make applications better," said Moor Insights and Strategy principal analyst Patrick Moorhead.

"Which is different from Amazon, Facebook, and Google whose primary business model is to mine personal information using AI to sell you things or put ads in front of you."

Microsoft is taking a unique approach by letting developers customize gesture commands, voice recognition and more instead of making them conform to settings in "off-the-shelf" AI, according to the analyst.

Microsoft executives used demonstrations to depict a near future in which artificial intelligence hosted online works with internet linked devices such as construction site cameras to alert workers of dangers, available tools, or unauthorized activities.

Devices like smart surveillance cameras, smartphones, or factory floor machines were referred to as "edge computing," with the coordination of cloud power and intelligent edge devices improving productivity and safety on the ground.

Windows gains

Nadella also told developers that some 500 million devices now run on Microsoft's latest Windows 10 operating system, creating a huge audience for their software creations.

Microsoft's online Office 365 service has some 100 million commercial users monthly, while its Cortana digital assistant is used by 140 million people monthly.

"The future is a smart cloud," Nadella said, predicting that mobile devices will take back seats to digital assistants that follow people from device to device.

"It is a pretty amazing world you can create using intelligent cloud and intelligent edge."

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16 comments

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18laura
1 / 5 (1) May 10, 2017
Hi
baudrunner
not rated yet May 10, 2017
The problem with "the future is a smart cloud" is that some hacker will find a way to bring rain to every user with a P.C. AI is to computer programming as calculus is to mathematics. It's really just a deeper form of the same thing. AI is not mysterious. It's just more complex software. The cloud isn't the future of computing - that is in the heads of the programmers - it's the way for Big Brother to have a handle on what everybody is doing, saying, thinking, etc...

No biggy, though. Just turn the damn thing off and take a walk.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 11, 2017
The problem with "the future is a smart cloud" is that some hacker will find a way to bring rain to every user with a P.C
The solution is that a mature artificial intelligence will be far superior to any hacker intelligence.

AI will make hacking impossible. Crime of any sort will be impossible in the surveilled world, and this will mean unprecedented freedom for everyone.

Huxleyites will still have the freedom to complain about it.
krundoloss
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2017
Crime of any sort will be impossible in the surveilled world, and this will mean unprecedented freedom for everyone.


Careful, that's how a dystopia is created. A system that powerful, will surely and inevitably be used for the gains of a few. What I am really hoping for is an AI that is incorruptible, that will actually control things with only the best of intentions at all times. This all reminds me of the Animatrix Series.
MarsBars
5 / 5 (2) May 11, 2017
AI will make hacking impossible. Crime of any sort will be impossible in the surveilled world...

And who will be conducting this surveillance, Otto? Under what authority? Under who's control? Operating with what guidelines and restrictions? Is AI surveillance to become the ultimate method of population control for the world's existing power structures? Whatever their ideology, level of corruption, human rights record, degree of religiosity? Who defines what a "crime" is? Sharia AI or Dictator AI or Evangelist AI anyone? Or is the superior mature artificial intelligence the boss? With no human controller. An entity with god-like powers over the planet and its occupants, answerable to no-one. Let's hope it remains benevolent towards humans.

...and this will mean unprecedented freedom for everyone.

Provided that you display a straight-jacket of culturally acceptable behavior at all times and don't mind losing all privacy. I'll get in early and complain now.
Munix
5 / 5 (1) May 11, 2017
Otto my friend; not true.

For example, just recently in a heavy surveyed city. (Think Europe.) Someone ran afoul of the current government. "They" hired to kill this individual. Pop! Job done. The after-incident recording got accidentally deleted.

Surveyed world or not. If "they" want you dead you will cease to live.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 11, 2017
Careful, that's how a dystopia is created
-Spoken like a true scofflaw. Nature has laws that are inviolate. In order to break them humans are forced to create gods and superheroes.

Thats how desperate humans are to escape the cage.

WE decide what the laws are and the machines will enforce them. Cheats and psychopaths will be a thing of the past.

Too bad if it hurts boohoo.
For example, just recently in a heavy surveyed city. (Think Europe.) Someone ran afoul of the current government. "They" hired to kill this individual. Pop! Job done. The after-incident recording got accidentally deleted
We dont have AI yet. People watching video feeds are not AI.

Everybody will be chipped, everything will be tagged, machines will see it all.

Nobody seemed to have a problem when it was god who was doing this yes?

God is fallible. A mature AI wont be.

Machines will even do miracles for you and perhaps let you live forever.
TheGhostofOtto1923
1 / 5 (1) May 11, 2017
And who will be conducting this surveillance, Otto? Under what authority? Under who's control? Operating with what guidelines and restrictions?
Another scofflaw.

We will. Just like now. Only unlike todays enforcers and legislators, AI will be incorruptable.

You are watching in realtime the fantasy liberal mindset which would resist this, being systematically destroyed. Like its predecessor religion, its time is past.

Time to grow up and obey the law. Freedom to break the law is captivity for everyone.
kochevnik
May 13, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
MarsBars
5 / 5 (1) May 14, 2017
And who will be conducting this surveillance, Otto? Under what authority? Under who's control? Operating with what guidelines and restrictions?
Another scofflaw.

We will. Just like now. Only unlike todays enforcers and legislators, AI will be incorruptable.

So the superior mature AI won't be running the show, just the current power structures in the world's 196 countries. Exactly how will AI remain incorruptible under that scenario? You haven't addressed the concerns raised in my original post.

Scofflaw? I despise hackers, con artists, thieves, corruption, thugs and murderers. But if being opposed to bad laws makes me a scofflaw then okay, that's me.

Time to grow up and obey the law. Freedom to break the law is captivity for everyone.

So obey without question every law that the government/chairman/president/king/dictator makes and everything will be perfect? Your utopian fantasy is a totalitarian dystopia in my eyes, Otto.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 14, 2017
Exactly how will AI remain incorruptible under that scenario?
Unlike humans it can be designed to be incorruptible. It can constantly improve its integrity and incorruptability in response to attack or merely self-reflection.

No human will be able to hack a mature AI. No human will ever walk on the sun.

You're not understanding power. Up until now its always been humans against humans.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 14, 2017
So obey without question every law that the government/chairman/president/king/dictator makes and everything will be perfect?
You just can't accept the fact that you resent the cage don't You?

The natural laws keep us honest, keep us subservient. AI is an inevitable law of nature.

That is the best way to look at it.

We acknowledge that humans are hopelessly inept, corrupt, deficient. And so we design machines to compensate. We outsource our limitations. This is WHY we are human. Technology MADE us. We owe our existence to it.

Soon we will outsource our intellect and our judgement to an entity far more capable of wielding them than us.

Sorry if this pains you furry little animal. Take heart - it may allow you to live indefinitely and provide you unlimited room in which to do so.

And you won't even have to worship it.
TheGhostofOtto1923
not rated yet May 14, 2017
AI is our way out or the cage and back to the jungle where we belong.
https://youtu.be/_cYm1Q46SB8
Dingbone
May 14, 2017
This comment has been removed by a moderator.
Mayday
5 / 5 (1) May 14, 2017
AI offers little new security because AI will hack AI, which will hack AI, which will... You get it; it'll be AIs all the way down. And you'll never be sure who's AI is making your coffee today. But that will be just for starters. The real first task of an authentic AI will be to create a better AI. Rinse, repeat.
baudrunner
not rated yet May 17, 2017
Along with the AI come the anti-AI hackers. http://www.zdnet....-harder/

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