Satya Nadella, the India-born CEO of global tech giant Microsoft, on Tuesday said mixed reality, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing are three path-breaking technologies that will “shape” the world in coming years.
Stating that the computing history has so far been about enhancing the man-machine interface, Nadella articulated that ultimate computing experience will be “mixed reality” that blends the real and the virtual world.
In a free-wheeling conversation with former cricketer Anil Kumble, Nadella spoke about matters close to his heart – his family, cricket and the potential that new-age technologies hold for organisations and the society at large.
Nadella is in Delhi, as part of a two-day visit to India to promote his book Hit Refresh. The 50-year old CEO was in Hyderabad yesterday visiting the company’s campus.
“The currency of our times will be the ability to collect data but, more importantly, to reason over it to create intelligence,” he said referring to AI as one of the three technologies that will “shape the years and decades to come.”
Nadella also cited examples of how the company’s ‘HoloLens’ is being used across sectors like education. HoloLens is a holographic computer designed by the Redmond-based company that allows users to interact with digital content to get an immersive experience. Recounting his own experience, Kumble said that he had tried the HoloLens and “walked on Mars and it felt great”.
‘Teleportation’ is no longer limited to just Star Trek, Nadella said to a packed hall. “If you take Microsoft 43 years into our existence and I look at it every five years, we have had some new existential threat,” he said.
He added that while people wrote that some company would “kill” Microsoft, it hasn’t happened because the US based company “must be doing something right to stay relevant, to continue to question the status quo”. “But it’s hard not easy,” Nadella admitted.
Another defining technology, albeit with a longer term horizon, is quantum computing that will allow people to deal with harder challenges of computation, Nadella said.
Earlier in the day, Microsoft also showcased ‘Ruuh’ a chatbot that uses AI to engage with users. It has already been deployed on Skype and Facebook. Launched about nine months ago, ‘Ruuh’ has already had over 17 million conversations.
A Microsoft executive said, “Whether it is that you are just nervous about an exam or excited about a new job, Ruuh just like a friend is always there to chat with you.” Ruuh was inspired by a similar chatbot by the company in China.
“We decided to bring this to India. It turns out that something that is good in one country and bringing it into another country which is conversational is very different and challenging…So we said let’s build an Indian social bot and we named it Ruuh,” Nadella said