Microsoft’s chief executive Satya Nadella recently expressed his sentiments regarding people’s privacy, something that sets the company apart from recent data scandals surrounding other technology firms. During the company’s annual conference in Seattle, he emphasized that tech companies should take greater responsibility for their actions.
“Privacy is a human right,” Nadella told the audience during the conference. He added that at Microsoft they embody principles that ensure the protection of privacy, and warned tech firms not to develop artificial intelligence without noting its consequences.
He also said that as part of the tech industry, they have the responsibility to build trust in technology. He also added, “We need to ask ourselves not only what computers can do, but what computers should do.”
Nadella’s comments follow Facebook’s recent data scandal. The issue led to a higher probe over how large tech firms collect and process data about their users, and ahead of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), strict data protection laws that will be implemented in Europe this month.
He also conveyed his support for the GDPR, which is a test for Silicon Valley giants. “GDPR is a sound, good regulation and we’ve been working hard to ensure compliance with it by the end of the month,” Nadella said.
He added that companies had to make sure that they introduce “ethical AI.” In relation, he said that Microsoft created an ethics board in charge of observing how the company makes their new products. He then emphasized that coders need to concentrate on building products that use good AI, in which “the choices we make can be good choices for the future.”
Nadella took charge of Microsoft four years ago. Since then, he has sought to lead the company to be “a responsible elder citizen of the tech industry.” In the past, it has faced numerous legal battles with the United States’ government after being forced to hand over users’ data and recently led an association of 34 countries with the advocacy to protect citizens from cyber-attacks issued by nation states.
He is also attempting to convince that the company can improve its AI technology while promoting user data through a computing technique called homomorphic encryption. Although it is still the subject of research, homomorphic encryption would let companies analyze and crunch encrypted data without needing to unscramble the information.
He visualized the technology for companies to “learn and train on encrypted data.” He did not specify how far along Microsoft is on proceeding with the encryption technique but the fact that he mentioned the terms shows that the company is advocating user privacy as a selling point for its Azure cloud business.