During the Ignite conference on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella talked some more about his hopes for AI. In criticism of Google, he said, “we are not pursuing AI to beat humans at games.”
Instead, the Redmond giant wants to democratize artificial intelligence. Nadella believes it’s the ultimate execution of their mission to “empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.”
The main way Microsoft will achieve this is through hardware. During the keynote, the company the first hyperscale AI supercomputer, and it will soon be accessible to everyone.
In just a taster of what is possible, Engineer Dough Burger translated over three billion words from Wikipedia in a tenth of a second.
This is thanks to new Microsoft’s new FPGA chips. The chips are more flexible than CPUs and are therefore well suited to deep learning and natural language processing. According to Microsoft, they have a tenfold improvement in efficiency, cost and latency.
However, hardware is just one focus. Nadella also went on to talk about use in agents:
“When we talk about agents, in our case Cortana, I think of it as the third run time,” said Nadella, “It can take text input, it can take speech input, it knows you deeply. It knows your context, your family, your work. It knows the world. It is unbounded. In other words, it’s about you, it’s not about any one device. It goes wherever you go.”
The digital assistant will soon go a step further by helping users keep commitments. Cortana will scan emails and remind users of things they promised to do. She will also help keep customers healthy by taking information from the health cloud and determining physical activity and sleep patterns.
Another focus is service, and Nadella used their brand new virtual support assistant as an example. The chat bot is now available for US customers to talk to, but its role goes much further than that.
Once a situation escalates to needing a human, the bot is still helping. It trains reps to get better, and vice-versa. This lets customer service become more efficient and therefore leads to higher satisfaction rates.
Above everything, Microsoft wants these different uses to reach outside of the company and into the lives of everyone.
“We want to pursue democratizing AI just like we pursued information at your fingertips,” said Nadella. “But this time around, we want to bring intelligence to everything, to everywhere, and for everyone.”