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Microsoft India projects itself as open source champion, says AI is the next step

Vishal Krishna
20th Feb 2017
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The company announced that it is building the world's largest artificial intelligence platform

At *.ai Intelligent Cloud, a conference hosted by Microsoft India in Bengaluru on Monday, the company said that Big Data, Cloud, and intelligence have changed the way machines compute services for human beings. It also announced that it was building the world's largest artificial intelligence (AI) platform.

"Cognitive services will change IT applications in the future. Services can become intelligent with machine learning and we are providing APIs to startups for computer applications like vision, speech, language, knowledge and search," says Sandeep Alur, Microsoft Lead Evangelist.

The company also positioned itself as a champion of open source technologies, with over 16,000 contributions made on GitHub, an open source internet hosting service. Large corporate like Google are in the game too. They joined the .Net Foundation technical steering group, which was launched by Microsoft.

Microsoft, in return, joined the Linux Foundation. While this global exchange of knowledge is well-founded, today every one wants to know what AI is all about.

Analysts at Gartner tell YourStory that today most neural networks are still in the realm of machine learning, which means outcomes can be predictive. Computer science experts will say that AI comes with reasoning power, which means machines can fool you into believing they are human.

That said, several software engineers are going after building computers that can create predictive outcomes for services. Say, a machine can tell when a part could fail and will inform the customer about going to the dealership to replace the part. Let us also say you call a BPO and a chatbot using voice technologies, which will guide you through a query better than any human. Says Alur of Microsoft,

"Today, building a bot means maintaining several source codes. But we have created a framework for bots with one source code."

Research firm Markets&Markets says the AI market could be $16 billion by 2022.

Bot frameworks can change the way BPOs function and change their outcomes.

However, the point is that while all these frameworks make it easy with a lot application channels, saying that we are in the realm of AI is a wrong argument. However, the push that Microsoft offers, to go towards AI with machine learning, is something to watch out for.

Let's look at the numbers. If we look at all the system integrators, starting from Accenture to Infosys to TCS to Wipro, their revenues from platforms that offer AI or machine learning is less than 10 percent.

"Data is critical and we can build models that can become critical for predictive planning," says Anish Basu Roy, CEO of Shotang.

Several startups that YourStory spoke to believed that machine learning was today called AI. "Everything that is F of X is considered AI, when all we are building is an intelligent machine," said founders of a couple of startups who did not want to be named.

Representatives of the Indian startup ecosystem in the room were extremely robust. Over 200 of them were present and most of them were in the realm of data analytics, cognitive sciences and predictive maintenance. Somehow, the feeling was that they were here to witness Satya Nadella's talk with Nandan Nilekani.

 

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