It’s the developer conference season, companies hold events to give the people building business and services off of their platforms insight into how they view the future. This week both Microsoft and Google approached their developer communities and painted two very different visions for their future.
Google CEO Sundar Pichai’s presentation was how he opened the segment:
Our vision for our assistant is to help you get things done.
And ended with:
A common theme across all this is we are working hard to give users back time. We’ve always been obsessed about that at Google. Search is obsessed about getting users to answers quickly and giving them what they want. Sundar Pichai
It’s clear. Google thinks computers are here to help you and get things done and save you time. Apple has yet to hold their developer events, but there can already be no doubt that Duplux was the most impressive tech demo of the year.
AI was at the center of all of Google’s main announcements: Google Photos will not only tag and sort your photos but it will also suggest edits; Google News will curate news for you; Maps helps you find new restaurants or shops; and Waymo will drive your around on it’s on.
Microsoft has a different vision for the future
At BUILD CEO Satya Nadella made it clear that Microsoft wants computing to become invisible and ubiquitous.
That’s the opportunity that we have. It’s in some sense endless, but we also have responsibility. We have the responsibility to ensure that these technologies are empowering everyone, these technologies are creating equitable growth by ensuring that every industry is able to grow and create employment. But we also have a responsibility as a tech industry to build trust in technology.
In fact Hans Jonas was a philosopher who worked in the 50s, 60s, and he wrote a paper on technology and responsibility…he talks about act so that the effects of your action are compatible with permanence or genuine life. That’s something that we need to reflect on, because he was talking about the power of technology being such that it far outstrips our ability to completely control it, especially its impact even on future generations. And so we need to develop a set of principles that guide the choices we make because the choices we make is what’s going to define the future…
This opportunity and responsibility is what grounds us in our mission to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more. We’re focused on building technology so that we can empower others to build more technology. We’ve aligned our mission, the products we build, our business model, so that your success is what leads to our success. There’s got to be complete alignment. Satya Nadella
The Computer doesn’t do work for you, it enables you to do your work better and more efficiently. Nadella wants to empower everyone to achieve more, to “amplify an inherent ability”.
Who is right?
The truth is, there is no answer to that question, we need both. However, if thinking about artificial intelligence can help clarify what makes us human, for better and for worse.