Microsoft wants the world to know it’s not falling behind in the race for artificial intelligence.
The technology giant—like Google goog, Facebook fb, and IBM ibm—has been pushing into the trendy field of artificial intelligence, catch-all for various technologies that help computers recognize patterns from massive amounts of data.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella emphasized A.I. on Monday at the company’s annual IT conference in Atlanta by describing how his company is using the technology and how it plans to do so a lot more in future.
“We are not pursuing A.I. to beat humans at games,” said Nadella, taking a subtle hit at competitors like Google and IBM, whose A.I. technologies got some attention for beating humans at the ancient Chinese board game Go and on the game show Jeopardy.
Microsoft’s overarching goal is to “democratize A.I.,” which Nadella explained has something to do with analyzing the mountains of data produced by consumers and businesses and then presenting the findings to people who have far less free time than they used to have.
Microsoft’s “A.I. approach” consists of four “core pillars” that Nadella said are agents, applications, services, and infrastructure. Not coincidentally, a Microsoft service underpins each one of those pillars.
Microsoft’s agent is digital assistant Cortana, which Nadella described as a “new organizing layer” that sits “across all the applications you will use in your life.” He mentioned Microsoft’s Office work productivity and Dynamics software for salespeople as being two examples of applications Microsoft has imbued with better data crunching technology.
Nadella bragged that Microsoft’s Dynamics sales software is able to sift through third-party apps like LinkedIn (which Microsoft is acquiring for $26.2 billion) to pinpoint whether changes made on those services, like employees changing job titles, could be a sign of better sales leads. Microsoft competitor Salesforce, whose CEO, Marc Benioff, said lost out to Microsoft on a bid for LinkedIn and its employee data reservoir, is also gearing to soon debut its new “Salesforce Einstein” A.I. technology for its own sales software and related products.
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