Home / Technology / News /  Microsoft's Nadella says India's digital infra building capability far ahead of others

NEW DELHI : "Oh, please don’t make me laugh. I’m the king of street foods in Mumbai." That’s the witty response that Satya Nadella, chairman and chief executive officer of Microsoft Corp., got when he prompted artificial intelligence (AI)-powered ChatGPT to write a play where Mumbai’s favourite street food--the vada pav--would argue its supremacy against competitors including Delhi's bhel puri.

India-born Nadella, who is on a four-day tour of India to meet the company's customers and some government officials, used the play to demonstrate how AI models such as ChatGPT and Dall-E, both built by US firm OpenAI, are new “reasoning engines" that can help knowledge workers, etc., enhance their performance. 

According to Nadella, who was addressing the media and some customers in Mumbai, large language model-based AI tools including ChatGPT and Dall-E will play increasingly important roles in the future of workers. He added, though, that these platforms will have to be used responsibly and people will have to consider the “displacement (of employees and business models)" that they can cause.

Nadella highlighted that while such generative AI tools have generated less than 1% of the world’s AI data sets in 2021, this can increase to 10% of all data generated by AI by 2025. 

“In future, the generative models will generate most of the data. We are right now seeing the emergence of a new reasoning engine. We’ll clearly have to talk about this reasoning engine — what are its responsible uses, what displacements will it cause, and so on. But on the other side, we should also think about how it can augment us in what we are doing today since it can have a huge impact on our future," Nadella said.

“Ultimately, these tools will accelerate human creativity, human ingenuity and human productivity across a range of tasks. It is going to be a golden age — the computer revolution created mass consumer behaviour change and productivity for knowledge workers. But, what if we could spread that productivity more evenly? To me, that is one of the biggest things to look forward to, and the way to achieve this is by building a robust data infrastructure," he added.

Nadella believes India will play a central role in the development of such AI-powered platforms. “One of the things that’s great to see is India leading in digital public goods. I mean, there’s India and then there is daylight, when it comes to the enlightened way in which India is building out digital infrastructure," he said while elaborating on some initiatives taken by the government in building digital infrastructure in the country.

Nadella also pointed out that the technology that will enable the adoption of such “reasoning engines" is the advent of “cloud-native applications". “Cloud-native applications have really not yet begun. By 2025, we’ll have most applications anyone builds at that efficient frontier of cloud-native technologies — it will be 10x, even 100x better in some cases. But it’s not just that, if you move to the cloud, the latter is 70-80% more energy efficient too. You also hedge against demand cycles — by moving to the cloud, you only consume when you need it. This tri-factor is very compelling," the top executive said.

Microsoft’s Azure suite of services rank as among the top three cloud platforms in the world, alongside Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud. Nadella pointed out that Microsoft is investing heavily to build cloud infrastructure — including a new cloud and data centre infrastructure in Hyderabad that will be operational by 2025. With this, Microsoft presently has over 60 cloud regions and over 200 data centres around the world. “Every business today will need compute power at the location where data is generated. So, demand for distributed computing will remain. We see tremendous momentum today — we see the likes of Adani using Azure for expansion, HDFC Bank using it to consolidate data platforms, Yes Bank built their super app on it, and more," Nadella said.

Nadella highlighted six “digital imperatives" that businesses must focus on today, and underlined the role that technologies and applications built natively on cloud platforms can play for modern businesses. The imperatives are: Migrate to the cloud, Unify data and apply AI models as platforms, Empower fusion teams (basically remote work), Re-energise your workforce (upskilling), Embrace collaborative business processes, and Prioritise security.

Shouvik Das
Shouvik Das is a science, space and technology reporter for Mint and TechCircle. In his previous stints, he worked at publications such as CNN-News18 and Outlook Business. He has also reported on consumer technology and the automobile sector.
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