The Two Ds of Growth, According to Microsoft Boss Satya Nadella

In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, data and digital tech is the new factor of production
The Two Ds of Growth, According to Microsoft Boss Satya Nadella
Image credit: World Economic Forum
Former Correspondent, Entrepreneur Asia-Pacific
3 min read

The world is going under digital transformation. Global businesses have realized that they must integrate digital channels to reach out to a larger section of consumers. At the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella stressed the importance of data and data technology.

While speaking to moderator, Klaus Schwab, founder and executive chair of the World Economic Forum, Nadella shared his vision on the future of data.

The growth dictators

“In the Fourth Industrial Revolution, data and digital tech is the new factor of production. Just like electricity was democratized and fuelled growth in the previous industrial revolution, the same will happen with data,” said Nadella, who is also one of the co-chairs of the WEF Annual Meeting 2019.

The Microsoft chief has always been vocal about the role of digital in fueling a country’s economic growth. Earlier in a LinkedIn post, Nadella shared, “Countries must ensure their populations and future generations have the digital skills that will increasingly be needed to thrive. They must also work in concert with industry to ensure the technology that is built is always trusted. That means action by both governments and the tech sector to guard against the unintended consequences of advances in technology.”

Handling the wave of techlash

All tech companies are familiar with the term “techlash”. Post Cambridge Analytica news, the tech industry was at the centre of many controversies. Last year, social media company Facebook faced sharp criticism from all over the world for extracting personal information from over 50 million users.

On tackling the techlash, the leader emphasized the need to discuss on what global norms are needed.

“The world is a tech sector. Every retail company, every health company will have to think of data. We should think of privacy as a human right. We have to start from the core principle that the user is the owner of their data, and the whole economy, not just the tech sector sector, must get to grips with this,” he added at Davos.

Need for principles

Many tech companies are looking forward to new opportunities in AI to transform their daily operations. Last year the tech industry witnessed significant push for the technology with investments in start-ups and companies reaching to new heights.

Nadella said, “As creators of AI we need some principles that can govern AI.At Microsoft, they had to build software that was safe by design. The same now applies to AI.”

He added, “The trouble was the black box: AI are being trained by data. But new breakthroughs will help us explain the black box so that ethically and in terms of regulation we can control it.”

As AI algorithms get smarter, they also become more incomprehensible and humans cannot always understand how a given machine learning algorithm makes decisions. This opaque process is referred as “black box”.

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