Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has laid out his hopes for an AI-powered future across personal and working lives for users everywhere.
Nadella also revealed exactly which AI tools he uses in his personal life, and how AI could transform the lives of individuals in the future, with the hope of improving access to knowledge and healthcare across the world.
“Something has clearly changed over the past year,” Nadella told Microsoft UK CEO Clare Barclay in his keynote at the Envision London event. “Our understanding of this new generation of AI and what it can do to pretty much any software category, any industry or any business process has, I think, gone through a real change.”
“The idea that you can have a multi-turn, multi-domain and multimodal conversation with your computer is going to be perhaps the biggest change in computing.”
“The age of LLMs (Large Language Models) is the greatest leveler in terms of going up the learning curve,” Nadella said, highlighting Security Copilot as a particularly useful tool. “We have a shortage of security professionals, and we need people to become professionals to fill those gaps. On the job, with Security Copilot, your learning curve gets bent – and that’s exciting.”
He likened the advent of generative AI technology to the initial launch of Windows by Microsoft back in the early 1990s and predicted it could have a similarly seismic impact.
“It reminds me of the Microsoft I joined in ’92,” he recalled. “The reason I say that is because the PC – and Windows in particular – was transformative in the workplace and in the workflow. We all remember what work looked like pre-email, word processing and spreadsheets, and what happened after…At least I do!”
Moving forward from Windows, Nadella also highlighted the role of cloud computing in helping make these huge technological breakthroughs possible, with Microsoft Azure playing an understandably key part.
“The cloud is helping to make that possible,” he added. “Data is also already in the cloud. So, therefore, the adoption of AI is just the next step, and it has compounding effects. But we should also be very mindful that the rate of diffusion is so fast, that I don’t think there’s going to be a distinction.”
In his personal scope, Nadella revealed that he was a regular user of GitHub Copilot to polish his coding skills, noting, “how can you be a tech CEO if you can’t code?” But he also revealed that he was a big fan of the Copilot tools included within Microsoft 365, utilizing them to summarize long-form documents or meeting notes into a single, digestible document that he could in turn ask questions of.
“I can really get to be very productive,” Nadella laughed, “at this point, if someone took away my 365 Copilot, I wouldn’t know what to do!”
AI running your life?
Looking forward, Nadella was understandably positive concerning the benefits that AI technology could bring to users from every walk of life – not just in the business world.
“I’m glad we’re all talking about both the capabilities as well as the opportunities of applying this technology, to drive societal benefits that are broad, whilst also being aware of the unintended consequences,” he noted.
“I think whether it’s in financial services, retail or even healthcare, it’s very exciting to see the broad swath of industries being reshaped,” Nadella added, before outlining his hopes of how AI could transform the lives of everyone on Earth.
“The eight billion people on this planet could have, in their pocket, a tutor that is personalized, a doctor that can sort of give you medical advice, and even a management consultant…to tell you how best to run your life!” said Nadella.
“If you take those three things, just think about what it could do to just the agency of an individual. A lot of us are afraid to venture into new domains because it takes a whole bunch of initiative, preparation and learning. But if you have something like Copilot to help you – an assistant that is going to walk you through each step – that is game changing. I think psychologically, that is the most exciting thing.”
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