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Future Decoded: AI-powered data revolutionises software development

Microsoft believes artificial intelligence will drive an entirely new way to develop software that can take advantage of massive data growth

The second day of Microsoft’s annual Future Decoded conference in London kicked off with a keynote presentation discussing how data growth is becoming the new Moore’s Law.

Through Moore’s Law, the technology industry has seen exponential growth in computing power, with processor performance doubling every 18 months to two years. But now, according to Microsoft, data is driving a new approach to software development, where data is doubling every two years and advances in artificial intelligence (AI) will be used to exploit this data.

Chris Bishop, technical lead at Microsoft Labs in Cambridge, said: “Moore’s Law has driven the digital revolution. I believe there is a revolution in the way we create software. In the last decade, we have handcrafted software to achieve the desired outcome. With AI, there is a radically different approach – we tell the computer how to learn.”

According to the International Data Corporation’s recently updated Worldwide artificial intelligence systems spending guide, spending on AI systems will reach $97.9bn in 2023, compared with $37.5bn that will be spent in 2019.

“There is a Moore’s Law of data,” said Bishop. “One risk of AI is that if we focus on pessimism and risk, we risk turning our backs on data – it may be unethical not to deploy data. Data can save lives.”

Pharmaceutical firm Novartis is one example of a business working with Microsoft on a data-driven approach using AI to change the way applications are created and run. Through the collaboration, Microsoft Labs in Cambridge will work with Novartis to develop new medicines.

The multi-year strategic alliance will focus on two core objectives: AI empowerment and AI exploration. Through AI empowerment, Novartis said it will use Microsoft’s AI technology on its large datasets. With AI exploration, it said it will use the power of AI to tackle some of the hardest computational challenges within the life sciences, starting with generative chemistry, image segmentation and analysis for smart and personalised delivery of therapies, and optimisation of cell and gene therapies at scale.

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  • While AI in healthcare shines in clinical areas like radiology, it is currently more widely adopted in nonclinical areas, such as medication development by pharmaceutical companies.
  • Providers, pharmaceutical companies and other healthcare organisations are starting to use advanced AI technology to provide personalised context for care and post-treatment.

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said: “Our strategic alliance will combine Novartis’ life sciences expertise with the power of Azure and Microsoft AI. Together, we aim to address some of the biggest challenges facing the life sciences industry today and bring AI capabilities to every Novartis employee, so they can unlock new insights as they work to discover new medicines and reduce patient costs.”

IDC research suggests that AI is being deployed across all industry sectors. David Schubmehl, research director, cognitive/AI systems at IDC, said: “The use of AI and machine learning is occurring in a wide range of solutions and applications, from ERP [enterprise resource planning] and manufacturing software to content management, collaboration and user productivity.

“AI and machine learning are top of mind for most organisations today, and IDC expects that AI will be the disrupting influence changing entire industries over the next decade.”

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