Satya Nadella used his opening keynote at Microsoft's Build conference to highlight the ethical challenges facing the IT industry as emerging technology like artificial intelligence becomes more prominent.
Opening the developer event, Nadella showcased a host of Microsoft's tech - including AI and Azure - but made it clear that the vendor is treading carefully when presented with ethical dilemmas.
"We need to ask ourselves not only what computers can do, but what computers should do," he said. "That time has come.
"We formed an ethics board inside the company, which is a very diverse group of people who govern the products we build, the projects we engage in.
"But beyond that, we are also investing in tools, because one of the key things that we have to do is put tools in the hands of developers, designers. Just like with good user experience and UI, we need good AI. We need to make this a first-class engineering discipline where the choices that we make can be good choices for our future."
Nadella said that Microsoft is focusing on three main areas when ensuring its technology meets ethical standards - privacy, cybersecurity, and ethical AI.
Speaking on privacy, he said that Microsoft is supportive of the incoming GDPR legislation.
"Privacy is a human right," he claimed. "We at Microsoft have enshrined a set of principles that ensure that we preserve this human right, protect this human right. We ensure that when we use data, it is to benefit the user. We ensure that the user is always in control of their data and its use.
"GDPR is a sound, good regulation. We have been working hard to ensure compliance with it by end of this month when it becomes in effect. We have hundreds of engineers across the company building the compliance infrastructure. In fact, we're going to help our customers who use our products and services get compliant."
From a technology standpoint Nadella said that Microsoft is focusing on two platforms - Azure and Microsoft 365.
He claimed that Microsoft has pivoted to create technology that enables its partners to build their own solutions.
"Both these platform opportunities are being shaped by one major shift in the technology paradigm, the shift to the intelligent cloud and the intelligent edge," he said.
"We are focused on building technology so that we can empower others to build more technology.
"We have aligned our mission, the products we build, our business model, so that your success is what leads to our success. There's got to be complete alignment."
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