Microsoft’s Chief Financial Officer, Amy Hood and Executive Vice President of AI and Chief Technology Officer, Kevin Scott, recently outlined the company’s vision and strategy for artificial intelligence (AI) in a riveting discussion specifically for investors. The pair detailed their perspectives on the potential of AI, its likely effects on productivity across various sectors and its capacity to solve complex problems.
For a non-technical, high-level overview of AI and why Microsoft is ideally positioned to drive this technological revolution, I highly recommend watching the full 32 minute video. For those with less time, I have summarised the key points below.
Exponential growth of AI and its significance
Scott begins by noting AI technology has been on an exponential growth trajectory for 20 years. He pinpoints 2012 as a significant inflection point, when computational power and data became sufficient to extract maximum performance from deep learning models. The future, according to Scott, sees AI models evolving into platforms across numerous applications.
Drawing parallels between the development of AI and the progression of previous game-changing technologies such as personal computing, the internet and the mobile revolution, the Microsoft executives affirm AI represents the next transformative phase in the tech industry’s evolution.
Microsoft’s AI strategy
Having anticipated this AI platform trend five years ago, Microsoft has integrated AI models into the core of its software creation processes. The strategy extends from the design of data centres to the software development environments.
Microsoft’s AI strategy is expected to significantly impact the company’s financials. It anticipates AI will generate revenue from both the tools and services customers use to build AI applications and from its integration into every Microsoft Cloud solution. Hood revealed the next-generation AI business could be the fastest-growing $10 billion business in Microsoft’s history.
Emphasising responsibility and ethics
In a world increasingly concerned about digital ethics and data privacy, both Hood and Scott stressed the importance of responsible AI practices. They believe safety, responsibility and security should be inherent parts of the AI platform, emphasising the importance of a trustworthy platform and infrastructure in maintaining customer trust.
The executives also endorsed the idea of AI regulation, likening it to the regulation of electricity. They believe such regulatory practices are a natural outcome of the ubiquity and impact of a technology like AI.
Partnership with OpenAI
Discussing Microsoft’s partnership with OpenAI, the executives highlighted the shared mission and trust that underpin their collaboration. The partnership aims to build the best possible platform for large-scale AI models, leading to collaboration on AI infrastructure and system software and culminating in the first AI supercomputer being used for training GPT-3.
Microsoft will retain a broad license to all OpenAI’s IP for the term of the deal, even if the partnership ends, adding valuable assets to Microsoft’s intellectual property portfolio.
Use cases and future aspirations
The executives foresee AI driving productivity in cognitive work and eliminating routine, repetitive tasks across various sectors like healthcare, manufacturing, education, retail and software development. They anticipate the rise of ‘Copilots’, or AI-powered tools, for specific types of cognitive work.
Ultimately, Microsoft aspires to use AI to solve complex problems currently beyond reach, like finding a cure for pancreatic cancer. Despite recognising concerns about the power of AI, they remain optimistic about its potential to create positive change.
Microsoft’s AI strategy, as laid out by Hood and Scott, reflects a proactive and optimistic approach to harnessing the transformative power of AI. The company anticipates significant revenue growth from AI and is investing heavily in the technology. At the same time, it is keenly aware of the ethical considerations and potential need for regulation in the AI space, emphasising responsible and trustworthy practices.
As Microsoft continues to lead the wave of AI adoption, investors can look forward to the innovative, productivity-boosting and problem-solving potential AI brings.
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