Future Decoded: Big data is enabling technology to take ‘moon steps forward’

Big data is enabling technology to take “moon steps forward”, Microsoft’s Future Decoded event heard on Wednesday.

On the second day of the conference, which helps businesses understand how digital transformation can help them grow, Microsoft shed light on the future of big data and cloud-driven intelligence.

Andrew Spooner, Microsoft’s Technical Evangelist, said companies are “creating ever more intelligent software that runs on ever more powerful devices. We are taking moon steps forward, massive leaps.”

Andrew Spooner opens Day 2

Joseph Sirosh, Corporate Vice-President of Microsoft’s Data Group, told the thousands of Future Decoded attendees how crucial decisions can become easier for humans by using machine learning and intelligence.

“The world around us is going to be an adaptive, constantly learning one,” he said at London’s ExCel. “And that will be revolutionary.”

Sirosh revealed how machine learning can revolutionise healthcare, pointing to Microsoft’s collaboration with the LV Prasad Eye Institute in India, where data have enabled doctors to predict the outcome of previously uncertain laser eye procedures.

Microsoft’s collection of speech, vision and facial recognition features, which Sirosh called “Big Cognition”, produce real-time information from video footage, including faces, genders, ages and emotions.

One adopter of Microsoft’s Cognitive Services is Uber, which uses facial recognition on drivers and their identification badges to enhance security and passenger safety. Chris Messina, Uber’s Developer Experience Lead, told Future Decoded that his company was extending the application of Big Data to customer relation bots.

As messaging apps have become more popular than social networks, Messina revealed how conversation as a platform has become the “new epoch” of technology.

Uber's Chris Messina presents to the crowd

“Messaging platforms are in their infancy but also in ascendancy,” he said, adding that today’s messaging platforms contain the essence of human speech and communication to further personalise the computing experience.

Messina also highlighted the impact that this shift in communication will have upon users. “The enormous rise in the use of messaging and voice communication platforms…will change the very way in which we communicate and interact with one another.”

Data-powered chatbots were a recurring theme during day two of Future Decoded, which also featured in the announcement of a new Microsoft Teams feature in Office 365.


In an unveiling  live-streamed to Future Decoded from New York, Microsoft chief executive Satya Nadella revealed that Microsoft Teams was an open, flexible, chat-based workspace that could be adapted to the unique needs of every individual. Office 365 apps are built into the environment and the Microsoft Bot Framework is also fully supported, incorporating intelligent services such as a help system.

Abe Davis, MIT graduate, and Katja Hoffman, machine intelligence researcher at Microsoft Research Cambridge, also focused on big data and machine intelligence.

Davis revealed the visual microphone: an algorithm that uses video to capture the effect sound has on objects and allows users to manipulate that footage.


Hoffman, covering innovation in AI research, shared her excitement about interactive learning and its ability to make AI interactions with humans even more seamless in the near-future.

Day two of Future Decoded also featured a live demonstration of the Windows 10 Creators Update, announced last week, and the UK’s first developer showcase of HoloLens.

The event concluded with Avi Reichental, chief executive of XponentialWorks, who focused on the disruption sparked by 3D Printing. “For the first time in history, anyone can be a craftsman,” Reichental said. It would be a revolution that would provide the opportunity to “change the future of our lifestyle”.