Microsoft Australia Developer Event – The metamorphosis of possibility into reality
by John Filippis, Strategic Engagement Manager, Quorum
For as long as I can remember, I have had thoughts of building things that didn’t exist. I am not sure where this “gift” or highly addictive obsessive compulsive disorder (as my wife calls it), comes from. All I know is that it exists and it constantly permeates and stirs inside my head and just like a drug, it constantly taunts me to step away from the “real” world and engage in the formulation of fantasy.
But fantasy is likely a poor choice of English for which to describe something that has not yet done the necessary transcendence from one’s thoughts to a reality of physical existence; or the metamorphosis of possibility into reality.
Bringing things into existence from nothing more than an idea, is something that software developers do quite well. Now the word “software developer” always conjures up the stereotypical image of old and I assume you know the type. Picture the Star Wars or Looney Toons T shirt, signature pony tail, a rampant affinity for coca cola and a social life where friendship was defined not by direct human interaction but by a common subnet ID issued by an online gaming server.
However just like fashion, things have changed since that 90’s image of software developers took root and I must admit I was there to experience it the first time round. Fast forward 25 years and things are different and markedly so. Firstly my hairline has receded harder and faster than the Greek economy (no surprises there) but more importantly in today’s world, developers are well…getting cool.
Developers and cool in the same sentence seems less like sarcasm these days and more like tautology.
Yes…cutting code is now becoming cool, way cool in fact. You see developers are now starting to be (and look!) less like the stereotype that I experienced in the 80’s and 90’s and more like IT professional hipsters with .Net skills.
I have noticed recently that software coding has started to permeate into normal life and is no longer indulged in a dimmly lit room in isolation. I can’t recall how many people I see on public transport these days with Visual Studio applications open on their laptops, punching keys with a ferocity that would scare Mike Tyson. These people are so engrossed in their creation that they can’t even wait to get to work to start the coding, they doing it in transit; such is the overwhelming power of their addiction to creation.
Today I found myself rubbing shoulders with these addicted software developer hipster types at the Microsoft Australia Developer Event, which was held at the Star Casino in Sydney.
I am sitting in a jam-packed auditorium filled with many individuals who are listening intently to Satya Nadella speak to them about how Microsoft is empowering with tools to indulge their power of creation. These die-hard developers are involved in projects and programs that will change how we do things in our daily lives, all through the power of software.
Satya’s power key note talked to how software technology is driving changes in almost every business with ever more powerful, more scalable and more human interfaces. The Microsoft Artifical Intelligence (AI) strategy is in full swing and the potential of the cognitive services that will follow, will be fully realised through the power and leverage of the cloud. These cognitive capabilities are developing across 5 pillars of categorisation which are Speech, Vision, Language, Search and Knowledge. Microsoft are now building an Azure based AI framework supercomputer, whose capability may bring to mind SkyNet inspired images from Terminator. Although i think there is long way to go before we achieve the “SkyNet is now self aware” level of AI, the trajectory is most certainly set to make these services as human like as possible to interact with.
Satya showcased how these cognitive capabilities have been leveraged by a large number of organisations:
- Saab Defence – Utilising HoloLens and augmented reality to train special forces in tactical response exercises across real and synthetic scenarios
- Uber – Is using real time ID verification for its drivers and passengers so as to guarantee their safety
- Japan Airlines – Utilising HoloLens to train its aircraft mechanics in augmented reality
- Microsoft – “Seeing the eye” program which is developing software to allow blind people to “see” through the use of cameras, Vision API, Cortana and Pivot head smart glasses.
But for me, one of the best things that I have seen come from the well of software creation recently is the abovementioned Seeing the Eye project from Microsoft.
The Question: Is it really possible to use a camera, some code and Cortana to give a blind person the gift of “sight”?
The Answer: I will let Saqib who lost his sight at 7 years of age, tell his story in his own words…
Saqib’s story does justice to what is truly possible with the technology. Finding solutions to problems of this magnitude are not the realm of science fiction any more, but are fully within our reach to solve.
I thoroughly enjoyed the day speaking with the other attendees and taking in the diverse realms of possibility that these software channels can offer. Satya’s speech along with the other presenters that day, again reinforced what I already knew about the power of creation ever since I was a child. That creation is indeed a gift and one that has the capability to transform many aspects of our lives.
As Satya said “Don’t just imagine a bright future…create it…”