de:code 2017 in Tokyo, Japan

One of the things that I enjoy about my job is the ability to talk to developers and ISVs from all over the world. On Tuesday I was honored to kick off Microsoft Japan’s annual de:code event in Tokyo along with my colleagues Alex Kipman and Joseph Sirosh.  This is my second time at de:code and this year I focused on how developers and businesses will use AI to redefine every industry and business process over the coming years.  As I mentioned in my last post, Microsoft is creating a platform that will enable any developer to use AI within their solutions, that we are using AI within many of our products/solutions already, and that we are working on Business AI solutions to help companies and industries alike.

During the keynote, we discussed Microsoft’s AI strategy and demonstrated several of the core technologies. This builds on the BUILD event from two weeks ago, including showing the PowerPoint Translator demo, but this time through a mix of Japanese, English and Spanish. We also showed off the evolution of Rinna one of our conversational bots that is based in Japan and now supports creating new characters specific to the persona that is appropriate for the business goals and brand for the company it’s representing. In the demo, we showed a new character based on Rinna, but generated from a deep-learning, generative model to take on the personality of a male persona instead of the female persona. We jokingly called the male friend of Rinna’s persona, Rinno.

Another key part of the conversation was the announcement of a global alliance partnership with Preferred Networks, Inc. Preferred Networks is the developer of Chainer, an advanced deep learning framework with a reputation for ease of use among application developers in various industries. Collaborating with world leading organizations, they are advancing the business utilization of deep learning technology focused on IoT.

This works well with Microsoft’s overall vision to bring Artificial Intelligence to practical applications and make revolutionary changes in all industries. Through both our technical and business collaboration, we will promote the practical use of deep learning and big data technology, making these technologies more accessible to researchers, engineers and students.

Already Preferred Networks has disrupted the automobile industry through deep learning advances in autonomous driving, improved the detection of breast cancer in the health industry, and broken records in the intelligence of robots in manufacturing. Preferred Networks expertise and their Chainer toolkit, combined with the computing power of Microsoft Azure, will enable researchers, data scientists and developers to achieve things never possible before.

The partnership between Microsoft and Preferred Networks has three parts:

  1. Technology – We will work with Preferred Networks to integrate their deep learning technology (Chainer, ChainerMN, etc) with Microsoft Azure. Chainer MN (multi-node) will have friction-free deployment on hyper-scale GPU clusters to reduce training time for deep neural networks. In addition, we will help make Chainer work great on Windows and in SQL Server 2017 Machine Learning features.
  2. Education – We will work together to create deep learning training from beginner to advanced, in order to grow the base of developers with expertise on deep learning technologies. The advanced classes will teach how to apply practical deep learning to actual business cases.
  3. Collaboration – Working together, we will drive the practical use of deep learning in the market to make digital transformation happen in several industries. We will establish a partner ecosystem to do artificial intelligence consulting and deep learning implementations that solve business challenges by utilizing deep learning.

At Microsoft, we want to bring AI to every developer so we can help you create the next generation of AI-powered applications. By partnering with companies like Preferred Networks, and making open-source frameworks like Chainer work well with our products, we are bringing a powerful set of tools and platforms together with the industry expertise to create incredible new solutions.

It’s an exciting week at de:code, besides the keynote I’ll have the opportunity to meet with Enterprise Customers, System Integrators and Startups to discuss the new industry trends around AI and how we can work together to redefine businesses. This is an incredible time to be a part of an industry which is at another pivot point of innovation and Japan is always a great place to learn more and interact with one of the great developer communities on the planet.  It’s been an exciting day and magnificent event in Japan. You can watch it on Channel 9.

Japan, Arigatou Gozaimasu!