#FUTURE: Microsoft AI Chief shows a world empowered by Artificial Intelligence

Kochi, Mar 23: A seeing app that can assist the visually impaired, a tool to prevent avoidable blindness, a data cruncher that can stop school dropouts and a program to help farmers tackle the vagaries of climate change — the power of Artificial Intelligence to solve real life and large-scale problems were detailed here today by a man who is in the midst of some of the most exciting innovations in technology.

Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice President, Artificial Intelligence & Research, Microsoft, electrified a packed and appreciative audience at the #FUTURE Global Digital Summit with visions of AI empowering people often forgotten and marginalised in the technology era.

Microsoft’s Seeing AI App, for example, empowers the blind to sense the world and hear the world by helping recognise people, understand the environment, handle currency and even help watch TV.

Innovation in cloud computing, the digitization of the world and advances now happening in the algorithms for artificial governance, are driving the growth of AI, he said in a 15-minute video address at the summit

“In the future all software applications will be built in the cloud, all combining data and AI and working with our mobile devices. It will be revolutionary.” Mr Sirosh, who was born in Kochi, said states like Kerala have the opportunity to be at the leading edge of the AI revolution.  

“Understanding, reasoning and interacting and the three powerful capabilities that AI brings to software, said Mr Sirosh adding that Microsoft has been successfully creating and testing applications built on this platform in India in areas ranging from “education, to health care, to citizen speech and even to improve productivity in agriculture”.

Among them is a predictive tool now being used by the government of Andhra Pradesh to determine the probability of a student dropping out from school, based on information such as their background, Aadhar and information from schools and teachers.

The predictions can help focus interventions to assist the student in class, give them attention and ensure that they graduate, and they can be extended to millions of students across India, Mr Sirosh said.

Similarly a predictive solution can use data about weather, local soil conditions and other things that affect crops and help farmers make the most of limited resources under inclement weather to get healthy yields.

In Telengana AI is being deployed for eyecare to predict diabetic retinopathy and assist with cataract surgery, while in Punjab the government is testing speech recognition to get feedback from petitioners, Mr Sirosh said.

“At Microsoft we have a powerful initiative that we now call AI for Earth; we are now tasked with figuring out how to mitigate and adapt to a changing climate, to ensure water supplies and sustainably feed a population rapidly growing to 10 billion people,” he said. “We truly believe AI will help us over the coming years to bring the best of people’s abilities and computers all working together to address some of these most difficult problems that we collectively face.”



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