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Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft: The people and projects that inspired me in 2017 2017.12.27

LinkedIn Pulse - December 21, 2017 - As I reflect on 2017 and look toward 2018, I am firm in my belief that the technology present in our world is just one part of a more powerful story. It's the people and organizations pushing the boundaries on innovation and applying technology to tackle big challenges that inspire me. One of my favorite parts of my job is having the privilege of meeting with and learning from colleagues every day who are imagining the impossible and innovating to better their communities and society. I love seeing what they're able to create with technology, because technology on its own is just one piece of the puzzle - it's the people and passion behind the technology that truly bring it to life.

Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella

LinkedIn Pulse - December 21, 2017

By Satya Nadella
CEO at Microsoft

As I reflect on 2017 and look toward 2018, I am firm in my belief that the technology present in our world is just one part of a more powerful story.
It’s the people and organizations pushing the boundaries on innovation and applying technology to tackle big challenges that inspire me.

One of my favorite parts of my job is having the privilege of meeting with and learning from colleagues every day who are imagining the impossible and innovating to better their communities and society.

I love seeing what they’re able to create with technology, because technology on its own is just one piece of the puzzle – it’s the people and passion behind the technology that truly bring it to life.

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft.
Photo courtesy of LinkedIn
The following stories of Microsoft teams and employees are more than just “work” for those involved.

They illustrate the intersection of personal passion in areas like healthcare, accessibility and education with new technologies – the cloud, artificial intelligence (AI), mixed reality and quantum computing – that drives our aspiration to help solve some of the world’s biggest challenges.

They have inspired me, and I hope they do the same for you.

Applying AI to combat infectious diseases

Microsoft Cloud helps researchers turn tiny insects into big data.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
An amazing collaboration – called Project Premonition – between Microsoft researcher Ethan Jackson, a team from Microsoft Research, the University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins University, University of California Riverside, and Vanderbilt University is utilizing the Microsoft Cloud and our AI platform to detect pathogens before they cause outbreaks.


Their work turns the pesky-yet-dangerous mosquito into a powerful data source that detects the emergence of disease pathogens before they have a chance to infect others.

Microsoft Cloud helps researchers turn tiny insects into big data.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
Using drones and machine learning algorithms like the SNAP alignment tool, they are helping public health organizations get the data they need with a more time- and labor-efficient means of collecting data from potential disease sources in the environment.


Time and accuracy are key to effectively managing outbreaks like Zika and Ebola, and we now have the ability to deliver the right data faster, helping these organizations predict disease spread and plan responses with greater immediacy.

Microsoft Cloud helps researchers turn tiny insects into big data


Turning a personal tragedy into a mission for helping others

John Kahan, left, and Juan Lavista Ferres, look over some of the SIDS-related correlations generated by the research tool developed by Microsoft volunteers.
Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella / Scott Eklund / Red Box Pictures
No parent should ever experience the death of a child.
And yet, sudden infant death syndrome (SIDS) affects thousands of families each year, with little insight available as to why.

Microsoft researcher John Kahan knows SIDS all too well after the death of his son in 2003.


He was able to turn his profound grief into action, developing data visualization tools to prevent this tragedy from striking others.

For the love of Aaron, and all children who may be susceptible to SIDS.
Microsoft researcher John Kahan knows SIDS all too well after the death of his son in 2003.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
Using publicly available, raw data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, and in partnership with researchers at Seattle Children’s Hospital, John and team developed a tool that uses statistical analysis and machine learning to interpret that data in a way that has never been done before.

Running on Microsoft Azure, they are able to produce new correlations between hundreds of data points, which the team hopes will ultimately lead to identifying the causes of SIDS and developing preventive measures.

Reuniting families with AI

Junxiu Wang and Yesong, who is now 17, at their home in Leizhou, China.
Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella
When I think of technology for good, the work being done by our Microsoft Research and Cloud teams in China in partnership with Baby Come Home comes to mind.


A leading nonprofit organization dedicated to finding missing children in China, Baby Come Home currently has 64,000 cases of missing children listed online.

To help bring more answers to families, our teams are working together to use AI to accelerate the process.

Since Yesong and his father were reunited, Baby Come Home has used the Microsoft app to help find four other missing boys in China.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
For example, the company is using our face recognition API with Photo Missing Children (PhotoMC) to help identify missing children by scanning a database of thousands of faces and returning a list of possible matches within seconds.


What started with Junxiu Wang, a father dedicated to finding his son, and Eric Zhou, a Microsoft business intelligence manager who developed the first build using Microsoft Cognitive Services at our annual hackathon, has grown into an intelligent, scalable solution.

Wang is one of a growing number of parents who have found their children using PhotoMC.

Closing the gap in access to a fundamental human right

Despite incredible advancements in technology, more than 1 billion people around the world still lack a fundamental human right: documented proof of their existence.

Establishing identity is critical to accessing a wide range of activities, from humanitarian aid and healthcare services to education and banking tools.

Photo courtesy of ID 2020
Without an official identification document, people are denied the opportunity to fully participate in society.

Nonprofit organization ID2020 is working to change this – its mission is to provide every person on the planet with a secure recognized digital identity by 2030.


Last year, our teams in Europe collaborated with Accenture and Avanade to develop an identity prototype based on blockchain technology – a database system that enables multiple parties to share access to the same data with an extremely high level of confidence and security.


The prototype builds on Accenture’s capabilities in blockchain and runs on Microsoft Azure.

Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella
The goal is to make digital identities a reality for all people – empowering individuals to fully participate in society and have direct consent over who has access to their personal information.

Customizing patient care to win the battle against cancer

The University of Washington Medical Center and Addenbrooke’s Hospital, part of the University of Cambridge, are two institutions at the forefront of cancer treatment.
And for them, saving time means saving lives.

Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella
They’re doing just that with Project InnerEye, a machine learning tool that looks at patient images in order to better delineate tumors from the organs that need to be protected.


Microsoft Researcher Antonio Criminsi and the research team worked to create a 3-D model of a tumor from a CT scan.

That model can then help radiation oncologists and radiologists deliver better care more efficiently and consistently to their cancer patients.

Antonio Criminisi is the lead researcher behind Inner Eye.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft / Jonathan Banks
What once took anywhere from 2 to 8 hours now takes less than 5 minutes.

This is just one of a number of projects our teams are working on in the healthcare space that I’m proud of.

Democratizing AI for farmers around the world

Ranveer Chandra is the principal researcher behind FarmBeats, a data-driven farming project designed to help increase farm productivity and reduce costs.


Ranveer and the team’s work means a lot to me because it highlights something essential for our future: AI doesn’t replace human knowledge; it augments it.

In this case, data from low-cost sensors in soil and drones with machine learning algorithms work with farmers’ knowledge and intuition to help them gather and parse data about their farms – informing what, when, and where to plant in order to drive the highest-possible yields and reduce costs.

Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella
A great example of this is Dancing Crow Farm in Washington state, which is collaborating with the FarmBeats team to harness the power of data-driven farming and improve production.


It’s exciting to see how collaborative intelligence – human and machine – helps this farm do its best.

Making the world more inclusive with assistive technology

Today, there are nearly 1 billion people around the world with a disability.

Inclusion in action: Veronica scores 100% with Sway magnified to 225%.
Veronica Lewis, a college student with low vision who uses accessibility capabilities in Office 365 and Windows 10 to excel academically.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
We will all face challenges to our abilities over our lifetimes, but assistive technology like Seeing AI, Eye Control, Learning Tools, and accessibility advancements for Office 365 help people with disabilities unlock their full potential.




This is true inclusion in action.


I am so proud of our Office and Windows teams for pushing the bounds of what’s possible in order to help everyone unlock their full potential.

Inclusion in action: Veronica scores 100% with Sway magnified to 225%.
Veronica Lewis, a college student with low vision who uses accessibility capabilities in Office 365 and Windows 10 to excel academically.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
One example is Veronica Lewis, a college student with low vision who uses accessibility capabilities in Office 365 and Windows 10 to excel academically.


When Veronica was younger, her school district did not have many resources for providing accessible materials, but once she mastered the use of built-in accessibility tools, her grades skyrocketed.

In 2015, she graduated from high school with a 3.8 grade point average, academic excellence that has continued into college.

Inclusion in action: Veronica scores 100% with Sway magnified to 225%.
Veronica Lewis, a college student with low vision who uses accessibility capabilities in Office 365 and Windows 10 to excel academically.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
I love how Veronica puts it: “Technology just doesn’t make things easier for people with disabilities. It makes things possible.”

Veronica scores 100% with Sway magnified to 225%


Creating local opportunity with social AI chatbots

I’m also excited to see so how Microsoft teams are applying AI for their own markets, communities, customers and cultures.

Designing AI isn't “one size fits all” – instead, it must be guided by thoughtful local customization.

In some countries, this includes new conversation models like social chatbots.

Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella
Three years ago in China, our team built and introduced our first social chatbot called Xiaoice, which has the ability to chat in natural language, as well as create content ranging from art to poetry.

Now, only three years later, our social chatbots have over 100 million users with 30 billion conversation sessions across five countries.

This year, our research team in India built and introduced a new social chatbot Ruuh.

What’s incredible is that the team discovered how Ruuh can help handloom weavers in rural communities create new economic opportunity by generating design patterns, inputting pictures and colors with the help of neural networks.

By creating new designs, they’re able to grow their markets and generate new revenue, helping to preserve this ancient art form and carry on a family business that spans generations.

Fighting cybercrime faster with machine learning and global partners

Safety and security are core to innovation, and I’m proud to see interdisciplinary teams across Microsoft using AI and the cloud to help us better understand and safeguard against digital crimes.

Photo courtesy of Satya Nadella
Earlier this month, the Microsoft Digital Crimes Unit (DCU) worked with the FBI and law agencies around the globe to disrupt Gamarue/Andromeda, a malware botnet sold on the dark web as a crime kit and used to take control of 2 million devices, infecting them with everything from ransomware to password stealers that collect victims’ banking credentials.


Working closely with the Microsoft Windows Defender research team, DCU developed cutting-edge Azure-based crawlers to analyze more than 44,000 Gamarue malware samples using AI and machine learning.

As a result of DCU investigation, 1,214 domains and IP addresses supporting 464 related sub-botnets in the Gamarue criminal infrastructure were taken down.

This coordinated global operation resulted in the takedown of the botnet’s servers, disrupting one of the largest malware operations in the world.

Gamarue’s global prevalence from May to November 2017.
For the past six years, Gamarue has been a very active malware operation that, until the takedown, showed no signs of slowing down.
Windows Defender telemetry in the last six months shows Gamarue’s global prevalence.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
I find this work just as incredible as it is essential – by turning massive amounts of data into intelligence, our teams are shining a light into the dark spaces of the internet to protect consumers and make technology safe for everyone.

Democratizing mixed reality

It is a wonderfully magical feeling the first time you experience a profound new technology.

I distinctly remember that feeling the first time I put on the HoloLens in the basement of Building 92 on the Microsoft Campus – as I was transported to the holographic planet of Mars, I felt like I was in a completely different world, literally!

Discover a large, evolving catalog of experiences: immersive and casual games, travel, 360° videos, creativity, social, live events and more.
Find yourself at the center of everything.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
That was the first time I experienced this new medium of mixed reality.

Like AI, we aspire to put the power of mixed reality in the hands of every developer, creator and person to build their own immersive experiences with Windows Mixed Reality.


3-D is the language that translates between our physical and digital worlds, and we’re already seeing the impact this can have on the way people create and communicate.

I'm excited to see how our partners are innovating in this medium, like Cleveland Clinic & Case Western Reserve University, from pioneering new ways to teach medical students and help surgeons prepare for surgery, to hosting the largest-ever shared holographic dance performance.

Dancing with holograms: CWRU stages dance performance using Microsoft HoloLens.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
A great reminder that “when you change the way you see the world, you can change the world you see.”

Dancing with holograms: CWRU stages dance performance using Microsoft HoloLens


Harnessing tomorrow’s computing power to tackle our biggest challenges

It’s truly incredible to see how collectively as an industry, we are pushing the frontiers of what’s possible with AI, mixed reality and the cloud.

Photo courtesy of Microsoft
And yet, despite all this abundance of computing, all this new technology, some of our most pressing global challenges are still unresolved and there are so many unsolved computing challenges:

How do we efficiently capture carbon from the atmosphere and create a path to combat global warming?

How do we enable a high-temperature superconductor to create more efficient power grids?

How could we apply AI to customize drugs to truly enable personalized medicine for each individual?

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
Even if we combined all of the world’s computing power, these challenges would still take longer than the lifetime of the universe to solve.

Microsoft Quantum


But what if we could build a new kind of computer?

Quantum computing has the potential to help solve some of the world’s toughest challenges, from precision medicine to precision agriculture to sustainable energy.


At Microsoft Ignite earlier this year, I hosted a fascinating panel to discuss the power and potential of quantum computing, including Microsoft Technical Fellow Michael Freedman and principal researchers Leo Kouwenhoven, Charlie Marcus and Krysta Svore.


It's clear that a computer based on quantum physics will take us beyond the limitations of traditional, transistor-based computers, because a quantum computer doesn’t work by “either/or,” it works through simultaneity, moving beyond Moore’s Law to create entirely new laws.

I’m fascinated by the potential of quantum computing and the twelve year journey Microsoft has been on to build this next generation of computing and unlock some of the world’s most difficult challenges.

Through quantum computing, we can unlock solutions to problems in areas such as artificial intelligence, clean energy, global warming, materials design and much more.
At Microsoft, we’re on the cusp of empowering a quantum revolution with our unique, topological approach.
The impact quantum computing can have ties back to our mission to empower every person and organization on the planet to achieve more.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft
Projects like these deepen my belief that a better world is better for business.

For us at Microsoft, whether it was building a Basic interpreter for the Altair, or whether it was building the simulator in Azure for quantum computing, our core purpose and mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

We want to democratize access to technology so that people around the world can create more technology and new opportunity.

Photo courtesy of Microsoft
As Michael Freedman and I talked about square roots at Ignite that day, I was reminded of the poem “Imaginary Number” by Vijay Seshadri, the 2014 Pulitzer Prize winning poet

The last line reads: “The soul, like the square root of minus 1, is an impossibility that has its uses.”

Photo courtesy of Microsoft
We all seek to unlock the unimaginable and solve the impossible.
That’s the quest we are on.
And I’m excited to collectively pursue this quest in 2018 and beyond.

Satya Nadella

Satya Nadella, CEO at Microsoft.
Photo courtesy of Microsoft

Source: LinkedIn Pulse


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