Nadella talks of a journey with Hit Refresh

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said mixed reality, artificial intelligence and quantum computing are three path-breaking technologies that will “shape” the world in coming years.

Stating that the computing history has so far been about enhancing the man-machine interface, Nadella articulated that ultimate computing experience will be “mixed reality” that blends the real and the virtual world.

Nadella took to the stage on Tuesday to talk about his book Hit Refresh - The Quest to Rediscover Microsoft’s Soul and Imagine a Better Future for Everyone.

Nadella talked about his book with former Indian cricketer Anil Kumble at an event hosted by Microsoft and HarperCollins India. The event featured conversations between the two on the ‘Hit Refresh’ moments that have transformed their lives.

Nadella spoke about matters close to his heart - his family, cricket and the potential that new-age technologies hold for organisations and the society at large.

Nadella is in Delhi, as part of a two-day visit to India to promote his book Hit Refresh. The 50-year old CEO was in Hyderabad yesterday visiting the company’s campus.

“The currency of our times will be the ability to collect data but, more importantly, to reason over it to create intelligence,” he said referring to AI as one of the three technologies that will “shape the years and decades to come”.

In his book Hit Refresh, Nadella delves into three key technologies that will lead to massive shifts in our economy and society— mixed reality, artificial intelligence, and quantum computing. These three currently independent threads will ultimately converge in the future where quantum computing will make artificial intelligence more intelligent and mixed reality an even more immersive experience. He also explores the values, ethics, policies, and economics that need to be considered in preparation for this next wave

He also gave examples of how the company’s ‘HoloLens’ is being used across sectors like education.

HoloLens is a holographic computer designed by the Redmond-based company that allows users to interact with digital content to get an immersive experience.

Recounting his own experience, Kumble said that he had tried the HoloLens and “walked on Mars and it felt great”.

‘Teleportation’ is no more just Star Trek, Nadella said to a packed hall.

“If you take Microsoft 43 years into our existence and I look at it every five years, we have had some new existential threat,” he said.

 He added that while people wrote that some company would “kill” Microsoft, it hasn't happened because the US based company “must be doing something right to stay relevant, to continue to question the status quo”.

“But it's hard not easy,” Nadella admitted.

Another defining technology, albeit with a longer-term horizon, is quantum computing that will allow people to deal with harder challenges of computation, Nadella said.

Earlier in the day, Microsoft also showcased ‘Ruuh’ a chatbot that uses AI to engage with users. It has already been deployed on Skype and Facebook.

Launched about nine months ago, ‘Ruuh’ has already had over 17 million conversations.

Ruuh was inspired by a similar chatbot by the company in China.

“We decided to bring this to India. It turns out that something that is good in one country and bringing it into another country which is conversational is very different and challenging...So we said let's build an Indian social bot and we named it Ruuh,” Nadella

On asking how Nadella transformed Microsoft using empathy, he said “one thing I have come to realise during this journey that it is about being able to meet unmatched unarticulated needs of customer there is no way we are going to able to succeed in something like that if we don’t have that sense of empathy.”

Earlier, during his trip to Microsoft headquarter in Hyderabad, he had spoken about artificial intelligence. In Delhi, he shared his view on future technology trends, leadership skills and world of sports.


Radhika Vashisht