Data privacy must be seen as a human right, says Microsoft's Nadella

Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Summit 2020, Nadella said it needs to be ensured that the huge data being used with consent is for the good of the society

23rd Jan 2020
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Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella on Thursday said data privacy must be seen as a human right that needs to be protected and have full transparency.


Speaking at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Summit 2020 in Davos, Nadella said it also needs to be ensured that the huge data being used with consent is for the good of the society.
Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella



During a conversation with WEF Founder and Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab, Nadella also favoured a debate on CEO pay and all kinds of remuneration, including return on capital.


Asked what was his recipe for doing good and at the same time doing well as the most valuable company in the world, Nadella said, "It comes down to having that core business design: when you do well, the world around you does well."


"People and institutions are all part of our society, so if you don't think about the broader systems, it's not stable," he added. "The question ultimately goes back to what is the market saying and what is society saying?"


Referring to the book 'The Narrow Corridor', he said you have to find what works, so no one loses out. It is in the long-term interest of the shareholders that we do the right thing by the stakeholders, he emphasised.


"CEOs in today's world have more to do to communicate that stakeholder capitalism is for the shareholders' long-term benefit," Nadella said.


He said there are four interconnected components needed for the world to collectively achieve more this decade -- power broad economic growth through tech intensity; ensure that this economic growth is inclusive; build trust in technology and its use; and commit to a sustainable future.


Asked about a possible bifurcation of economy and tech between China and the US, Nadella said, "Every country cares about their national security, I would urge us to think about what should happen."


"If we should 'consciously decouple', all we will do is increase the overall transactional costs of our economy.


"The last 30-year period has been an amazing period of market access, but we need to grow up because the world is more complicated," he said while recalling the time when he himself immigrated to the US and then joined the software industry.


He said the world will need more norms around trust in technology.


"I think China cares as deeply about AI ethics as the US," he said.


On privacy, he said data dignity is crucial and the next level of work is not just privacy, but one should be able to control how one's data is used in the world.


"What if the consumer benefitted from their data as well as advertisers? More work needs to be done around data dignity - and new business models in the 2020s," he said.


Nadella also said we need to understand why artificial intelligence (AI) marks a departure from previous software.


"We have an ability for the first time for software to be written by data," he said, but added that we should not be too fast in abdicating our responsibility.


"We advocate a set of principles around accountability and it needs to be turned into software engineering practice.


"The best way to ensure there's no bias in AI is to have the team creating the AI representing the diversity we want it to have," Nadella said.


Regulation should be more at the run-time than the design-time, he added.


(Edited by Megha Reddy)




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