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Microsoft AI CTO: A Cloud AI Service Behind Every Device

The most important macro trend is a cloud AI service behind every device. It might be any device that you use in your house. Of course, your apps on your phone have AI services behind them eventually,...
Microsoft AI CTO: A Cloud AI Service Behind Every Device
Written by Rich Ord
  • What could change us from having to wrestle with physical devices? That was the question posed by Microsoft AI CTO Joseph Sirosh at the 2018 AI Summit in San Francisco. He was specifically referring to a prosthetic, but that is only an example of how Cloud AI Services could impact the usefulness of all devices.

    Joseph Sirosh, AI CTO at Microsoft, talks about how a Cloud AI Service will eventually be driving every device:

    Top Macro Trend: A Cloud AI Service Behind Every Device

    The most important macro trend is a cloud AI service behind every device. It might be a prosthetic, it might be any device that you use in your house. Of course, your apps on your phone have AI services behind them eventually, some of them already have AI, but others well. Everything in the world that is connected with Wi-Fi or Internet connectivity can now be backed up by an AI service. That’s very powerful and profound when you think about it.

    Now, think about this one, the grip classification (on a prosthetic). How it works is there’s a muscle sensor that I’ve attached to my arm here, there’s a camera in the hand. So, through the electronics, it goes to an Azure Custom Vision Service, where our classification model has been set up, a deep-learned model that recognizes objects and classifies it to the right action and then that triggers the appropriate grip classification in the Servo motors connected to an Arduino board in the arm.

    The Magic Provided by a Cloud AI Service

    Two undergraduates built this. Hamayal Choudhry from the University of Ontario Institute of Technology and Samin Khan from the University of Toronto. They did this for the Microsoft Imagine Cup. They were the winners in 2018. Building this took them a few weeks. Of course, then the magic was provided by a cloud AI service to be able to make this device intelligent. That’s a power. Even an undergraduate can build something as powerful as this today.

    Why is this Revolutionary?

    So, why is this revolutionary? Step back and think about this device. Look, there are over a million amputations per year. That’s an amputation every 30 seconds. WHO estimates that 30-100 million people in the world live with limb loss. Only 5 to 15 percent of these have access to prosthetics, even though prosthetic devices have been around since the Egyptian times. Even though these devices have been there, they have been purely physical devices and very severely limited. Limited by cost.

    The bionic arms that you have heard about today, they cost tens of thousands of dollars and it takes a lot of effort to fit them on you. They’re limited by availability, very few people have access to it, and they’re limited by the interface you can attach to the body.

    Breaking Physical Limits via Cloud AI Service

    Above all, they’re limited by the nervous system that we have because we’ve got to train ourselves to use that device. In fact, literally, we had to force our will into these devices to be able to use them effectively. How could we change all of that? What could change us from having to wrestle with physical devices? How could we break these limits? The answer is an AI or a cloud AI service backing it up.

    Think about this, what if you had low-cost electronics to build with it? What if we could change the game of availability with 3D printing? So, you can print these things anywhere in the world. What if you had a Cloud AI service behind it that provided the ability to recognize things and make the movements? What if it could be personalized? What if it could be adapted? What if other people, your friends could train your arm to make the right kind of movements, in the right kind of environments? How could you have customizability of all types? What if you could tap into the knowledge of the world beyond our senses through the cloud service so that you can keep improving it? What if all of these things came together for a very low cost like the $100 it took for this arm to be built?

    That would be revolutionary, right? Imagine, now every prosthetic in the world or orthosis in the world which is, let’s say you break your arm and [inaudible] sling and you need assistance? What if you could get something very cheap that you could move around but it’s controlled by a Cloud AI service and all you have to do is express your intent to that Cloud AI service somehow and it does the more complex task of actually doing the grasp?

    Affordable, Intelligent, Cloud-Powered and Personalized

    See, this is the difference that the services can make. What you do is you express your intents and your constraints, and the service generates the behavior you need. So, it’s a generative service. The behavior is generated but from high-level intention that you communicate. So, the future is affordable, intelligent, cloud-powered, personalized, prosthetic devices and really devices of every type. That’s hugely revolutionary.

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