AI represents the ‘3rd run time’ in tech behind OS, browser: Microsoft CEO

February 21, 2017


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First, there was the operating system. Then came the browser. Now, AI will be the agent to usher in the “third run time” as the future of computational technology.


Speaking in India at the Future Decoded conference on Monday, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said that Artificial Intelligence is the “ultimate breakthrough” technology, and it represents the third run time behind the Operating System (OS) and the browser.

Think of the OS as being the hardware — the computer or mobile phone, and the browser as the software to connect the OS with the world wide web.

The third run time, AI, will be the agent that acts as the interface between the OS, browser, and humans like Microsoft’s Cortana, Apple’s Siri, or Amazon’s Alexa.

“The operating system was the first run time. The second run time you could say was the browser. The third run time can actually be the agent because in some sense, the agent knows you, knows your work context, and knows the work; and that’s how we’re building Cortana, and we are giving it a really natural language understanding,” said the Microsoft CEO.

Where AI is currently lacking, explained Nadella, is that human language understanding still doesn’t exist, and we are still years away from Artificial General Intelligence.

“For all of the advances in human-computer interface, there’s nothing to beat language, and so that’s the ultimate breakthrough,” said the Chief Executive Officer.

Last month, Microsoft acquired Canadian AI startup Maluuba, whose mission is to create “literate machines that can think, reason and communicate like humans.”

Read More: Microsoft’s Acquisition of AI Startup Maluuba is like Hera’s Gift to Pandora

Maluuba claims to have “designed a deep neural agent that learns to accomplish these tasks through efficient information-seeking behavior,” and that “such behavior is a vital research step towards Artificial General Intelligence.”

Nadella’s talk came on the day after Microsoft announced a partnership with Flipkart, India’s leading retailer and e-commerce platform, “to provide consumers in India with the best online shopping service.”

Flipkart plans to use the artificial intelligence, machine learning and analytics capabilities in Azure, such as Cortana Intelligence Suite and Power BI, to optimize its data for innovative merchandising, advertising, marketing and customer service, according to Microsoft’s news center.


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