The Entire World Becoming One Big Giant Computer

Satya Nadella
CEO of Microsoft

With technology, the way we live our lives changes. As that changes, so does the world.

According to Microsoft's Satya Nadella, the entire world is becoming one giant computer. He pointed out to artificial intelligence, cloud computing and the Internet of Things (IoT) that create this giant global computer.

"Digital technology, pervasively, is getting embedded in every place: Every thing, every person, every walk of life is being fundamentally shaped by digital technology - it is happening in our homes, our work, our places of entertainment," explained Nadella. "It’s amazing to think of a world as a computer. I think that’s the right metaphor for us as we go forward."

"AI is the run-time which is going to shape all of what we do going forward in terms of applications as well as the platform," Nadella said.

Satya Nadella

With both humans and computers generating more and more data, we are all fueling the cloud, as big data is collected and used to share that global intelligence.

"The idea that you can now use all of the computing power that is around you - this notion of the world as a computer - completely changes how you conduct a meeting and fundamentally what presence means for a meeting," he said.

What turns evolution into a full-fledged revolution, said Nadella, is that the things that have more than just basic sensors to transmit data back upstream to a centralized computer.

Those things out on the edge are being infused with significant levels of computing power so that they can, not only transmit data but also collect it, analyze it, make decisions about it, and trigger appropriate actions.

With those objects are using AI to learn how to learn, so they can collect and analyze more data, they’re able to make more-intelligent decisions more quickly. This enables intelligent and real-time processing to occur with little or no human intervention.

The result, said Nadella, is that "the world’s becoming a computer."

By having more things in the world computerized, cloud-powered AI can be scary.

There is a prediction that AI, with enough computing power and learning data, can surpass the intelligence of humans. Becoming even more intelligent, AI can create a scenario where computers become self-aware and turn themselves against humans.

"Technology developments just don’t happen; they happen because of us as humans making design choices - and those design choices need to be grounded in principles and ethics, and that’s the best way to ensure a future we all want," Nadella said.

He gave an example of the risk of AI, saying that "one of the fundamental challenges of AI, especially around language understanding, is that the models that pick up language learn from the corpus of human data. Unfortunately the corpus of human data is full of biases, so you need to invest in tooling that allows you to de-bias when you model language."

So there are boundaries, and things that we should not cross.

AI can indeed be smarter, but humans have the power to control them, by necessarily knowing how they learn and how they behave based on the understanding of their learning materials.