While his feet may have been in Sydney, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella’s head was firmly in the clouds. Or rather, his own cloud — the company’s cloud computing service Azure.In Australia for a Microsoft Developers conference, Nadella laid out his main theories for the digital future: Mobile-first and cloud-first. And bots. Did we mention bots?
“We have a distinctive point of view when we say ‘mobile first,'” he said. “It’s not about the mobility of any single device, it’s the mobility of the human experience across all the computing in our lives.
“That’s what the cloud enables.”
With echoes of Mark Zuckerberg’s bot evangelism at April’s F8, and Nadella’s own remarks at the Microsoft’s annual developers conference in March, it was a bot-heavy message sent Wednesday.
To help build ’em, Nadella announced the launch of the Azure Bot Service — a new public cloud-based bot builder — that will give everyone access to automated systems that understand conversational language.
Microsoft missed the mobile phone boat, as Nadella has admitted, so it’s definitely on the look out for the next big thing: Bots, it hopes — as the technology moves beyond the usually disappointing AI-powered chatbots we’re currently familiar with.”Just like you built websites in the past, or mobile applications in the past, you’re going to now start building bots as new interfaces, new applications,” he said.
You’re going to take every business process and build a new bot interface. But to do that you need to have natural language understanding, and that’s what the bot framework enables for every developer.”
In addition to building a bot army, Microsoft is also hoping to play a role in developing artificial intelligence for good, a project it referred to as “democratising artificial intelligence.”
Nadella also announced a new partnership with OpenAI, the non-profit AI research company cofounded by Tesla’s Elon Musk and Y Combinator president Sam Altman, which will use Azure as its main cloud platform.
“We are going to create an incredibly powerful technology,” Altman said in a promotion video. “And that should belong to everyone in the world. We don’t want to see that concentrated within a single government, certainly not in a single company.”
One service the group will use will be Microsoft’s Azure N-Series Virtual Machines, to be launched broadly in December, which has the power to run deep learning and simulations.
“We are in fact building the world’s first AI supercomputer,” Nadella said at the event. “You truly are making it possible for developers to create intelligence and get beyond even any limitations of Moore’s law.
“That to me is perhaps one of the things we’re going to look back at five years, 10 years from now … we’re going to say, ‘how is that creature even possible?'”