微软CEO:行业太封闭 人工智能仍处于“大型主机时代”

微软CEO萨蒂亚-纳德拉(Satya Nadella)今日在慕尼黑“DLD科技大会”上称,人工智能(AI)目前仍处于“大型主机时代”,即计算力量集中在少数几家公司手中。纳德拉称,计算机行业崇拜那些不但能利用人工智能软件来模拟现实世界的科技公司,还要让人工智能技术变得实用,把它们提供给更多的用户,正如PC和移动设备逐渐取代了大型主机。

在人工智能领域,微软的战略是把人工智能技术融入到各种工具中,以提供给开发者使用。纳德拉称,微软正在贯彻这一战略,将来可能把人工智能技术融入LinkedIn和HoloLens等产品中。

与此同时,纳德拉还倡导“负责任”的人工智能,以确保这项新兴的计算技术能保护计算机用户的隐私,维护人类及其工作的尊严。

当前,人工智能已经引发了一些伦理道德问题,如影响人类就业等。微软联合创始人比尔-盖茨(Bill Gates)和特斯拉CEO埃隆-马斯克(Elon Musk)等均表达出了对人工智能的担忧。马斯克甚至表示:“人工智能是人类生存的最大威胁。”

作为微软CEO,纳德拉已经围绕人工智能对微软研发团队进行了调整,并推出了一些工具和服务来帮助开发者建立人工智能应用。

上周五,微软还宣布收购加拿大人工智能初创企业Maluuba。Maluuba创立于2011年,总部设在蒙特利尔和滑铁卢。微软表示,该收购将进一步强化公司在机器阅读和编写方面的能力。

纳德拉最后称:“我们已经走出人工智能的冬天。该行业的下一步任务是开发适用于各种任务的通用智能软件,从而实现‘人工通用智能’。”

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/articles/2017-01-16/microsoft-s-nadella-calls-for-tech-industry-to-open-up-ai

Microsoft’s Nadella Warns Against ‘Hubris’ Amid AI Growth

  • CEO speaks in Munich about Microsoft culture and spread of AI
  • Cautions ‘celebrating’ successes as he pushes into new areas
Satya Nadella.

Photographer: David Paul Morris/Bloomberg

Microsoft Corp. and its competitors should eschew artificial intelligence systems that replace people instead of maximizing their time, Chief Executive Officer Satya Nadella said in an interview Monday.

"The fundamental need of every person is to be able to use their time more effectively, not to say, ‘let us replace you’," Nadella said in an interview at the DLD conference in Munich. "This year and the next will be the key to democratizing AI. The most exciting thing to me is not just our own promise of AI as exhibited by these products, but to take that capability and put it in the hands of every developer and every organization."

Nadella is pushing Microsoft into consumer and industrial applications of software that can make inferences about its environment. He cautioned his own company and competitors about "parlor tricks" that show AI’s power without preserving workers’ dignity.

The 49-year-old who’s entering his fourth year as Microsoft’s CEO after succeeding Steve Ballmer in 2014, has presided over a 73 percent run-up in Microsoft’s shares and Azure cloud-computing revenue that’s been doubling year over year. He’s compelled Microsoft’s product groups to cooperate to ship products faster and has greatly expanded Microsoft software available on platforms other than Windows, including those from Apple Inc. and Google. Microsoft last month closed its $26 billion acquisition of LinkedIn Corp.

"There’s a thin line between hubris and confidence," Nadella said. "Always there is risk of hubris coming back, missing trends. The only long-term indicator of success is, ‘how good is your internal culture?’"

"What I’ve learned if anything in three years as CEO is, it’s not about celebrating one product," he said. "That, to me, is the sign of a company that’s built to last. In tech it’s even more harsh."

Tablets, Watches

Microsoft suffered for a decade from a tendency to make stabs at technology it failed to propagate widely that ended up benefiting other companies -- mainly Apple. It developed tablet PCs, pocket computers and smartwatches in the early 2000s, and was selling software for cars in the 1990s.

"Because of Microsoft’s technical orientation, engineers have always wanted to stuff more and more features and tricks into the products," said Michael Cusumano, a professor of management at MIT Sloan School of Management who’s written three books about Microsoft and its leaders. "The products ended up becoming huge. That’s what slowed them down."

On the AI frontier, Japan Airlines Co. is using Microsoft-developed holographic capabilities to simulate aircraft engines for training of repair technicians and to avoid costs of sending full repair crews to each broken plane. McDonald’s Corp. used Microsoft technology to develop an automated order-taking system that compensates for noise encountered during orders at a drive-through. Microsoft has also designed software that can protect staff who work in environments surrounded by robots.

Microsoft last Friday said it acquired Maluuba, a Montreal-based AI startup specializing in analyzing written content, for example sifting through businesses’ documents to find experts in given fields.

Yet Amazon.com Inc.’s Web Services division has been rapidly releasing AI services for businesses including the ability for developers to build spoken conversation support and speech translation. Alphabet Inc.’s Google last year rebuilt its Translate service using neural networks to improve accuracy and produce language that sounds more like what a native speaker would say, and has made strides in image recognition, music and art.

"They’re all great advances," said Nadella, who’s reorganized the company’s research arm around AI and shipped products including Azure cloud-computing services and tools for developers to build applications for artificial intelligence applications.

"We should be competitive there and we should be pushing there and we will be doing that," he said. "But what’s Microsoft’s unique contribution beyond doing that is democratizing the access to the same tools that we use for ourselves so that every developer can use them to create their own intelligence," he said.

Cloud Concerns

As Nadella and other tech leaders head to the Davos elite gathering in Switzerland this week, cloud-computing’s relationship with data privacy in Europe is also top of mind for Microsoft and its competitors. European businesses and governments could be reluctant to store data in clouds operated by American tech companies if the U.S. government can order access to it, and Microsoft has sued the U.S. Department of Justice in two cases over the issue.
Nadella said having data centers in Germany operated by Deutsche Telekom AG has "helped build trust with the German customers." The incoming Trump administration, European Union and China together need to weigh issues including the balance between security and data privacy, the CEO said."We have business in each one of these countries," Nadella said. "These countries are going to have to work together and there are rightful concerns each one of these constituents has."


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