Future Decoded 2017 continued for the second day of the event at the ExCeL in London, UK and welcomed over 24,000 attendees to discuss machine learning, the cloud and artificial intelligence and more.
Lorraine Bardeen, general manager of Windows and HoloLens Experiences, began by discussing mixed reality in the workplace and how “it’s acting as a catalyst for digital transformation. At Microsoft, we have made a conscious decision to call this mixed reality.”
Bardeen added “I want to talk about the future of the workplace. Firstline workers, those who are first to the problem. They have been largely unserved by computing because they are walking around the real world. They can’t be holding something they need to keep putting down and picking up. For any computer to be valuable, it needs to understand the world in front of them. HoloLens allows them to be hands-free and provides value right into their daily lives.”
Mark Russinovich, chief technology officer of Azure, took to the stage. He said “I want to talk about the cloud and intelligence, trying to get insights and taking actions on those insights. Machine learning and AI is important, looking at the data and knowing what to do about it. We have a bot framework, a conversational platform for customers. Cognitive APIs go with those, these can infuse intelligence. There are 20 different categories of APIs – vision, which can look at faces or objects, speech, knowledge etc. We strive to create a platform that’s optimized for machine learning.”
Karin Strauss, senior researcher at Microsoft Researcher, said “The world is producing much more data than we can store. We have to throw away a significant proportion of it. In 2018, we will be able to store 30% of all the data we currently produce. In 2040, that will be down to 0.5%. Storing data in DNA molecules could help with this problem. A tiny portion of DNA could store 10TB of data.”
Nick Ogden, founder and executive chairman at ClearBank, said “There was an opportunity to change the landscape of finance using technology. We wanted to build it all ourselves because we wanted to de-risk our business. Security was our number one requirement; we also needed performance reliability, scalability and accessibility from the cloud into our platform. We then had to deal with challenges from the regulators; we told them it was safer and more secure in Microsoft’s cloud.
Rupert Page from Epilepsy Care Alliance and Ian Denley from System C Healthcare and Graphnet Health discussed how technology can make a positive impact on the healthcare industry.
“Epilepsy is one of the leading causes of emergency admissions for long-term conditions,” said Page. “It’s difficult to diagnose. We wanted to change the management of epilepsy. We formed the Epilepsy Care Alliance, a group of clinicians and others to improve the lives of people with epilepsy.”
“Sources of data have poured into Azure from wearables,” said Denley. “We’ve created a patient app that allows people to enter data about their seizure to capture real information. We’ve integrated Skype so we can video-conference with patients. We are looking at other long-term conditions, too – heart disease, Parkinson’s.”
Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose said: “We know tech is the enabler of digital transformation, but we know this kind of change has a significant human component, too. Microsoft has had to adopt a new mindset, while embracing new ways of working. When you transform, it’s important that you don’t throw away those parts of your business that makes it special.”
Former Manchester United footballer Gary Neville spoke about the new UA92 University, which he is setting up in Manchester, and said: “Under 25 years of working under Sir Alex Ferguson I never heard him fail to mention how it was important to never give up. We have a responsibility to put character at the heart of education. With UA92, a new university I have set up with the Class of 92, we put character development at the heart of learning.”
Haiyan Zhang, Microsoft innovation director, took to the stage. “Disability is one of the biggest challenges we are facing in the world today. Finding a solution that helps someone with an upper limb disability might help someone with an arm issue. We have opportunities in tech that look different to what we had even five years ago. We revisit old challenges with tech such as AI, machine learning and cloud.”
“For the first time, I can add subtitles into PowerPoint presentations. We can translate over 60 languages and this can be done on the spot or remotely. By making subtitle tech easy to implement and use, we hope to remove some of the stigma around hearing loss.”
The day closed with a talk from Tom Nabarro, a developer at Intel. He said: “Every one of us has reduced ability at some point. We can all improve and augment our computer use by using assistive technology. It’s for all of us. It allows us to make the most of our time, which is the most important thing we have.”