Microsoft sign at Future Decoded

Future Decoded 2018: Day One – as it happened


That’s it for today. The first day of Future Decoded is drawing to a close. We loved looking around the exhibition hall and meeting all our partners and customers, listening to loads of interesting talks and watching the keynotes.

Thank you for reading. We’ll be back tomorrow at 8am, ready to cover a keynote speech by Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella. See you then.



Aderin-Pocock: I’m working on the next generation of telescopes. OWL (overwhelmingly large telescope) is 100 metres in diameter, it’s main lens is the size of a football pitch. We need to put some of these telescopes into the atmosphere. We now believe there are 300 billion stars in our galaxy.


Aderin-Pocock: Science fiction inspires scientists to push the boat out further. Films represent my dreams, I have dreamt of going interstellar and going to the stars. I’ve been lucky enough to work on many projects, from studying moving planets to climate change on Earth. But now I have equipment in space.



Aderin-Pocock: When I got to school I was diagnosed with dyslexia. My dreams crashed. School was all about reading and writing, and the teachers told me I should go into nursing – that wasn’t where my heart lay. I went to 13 different schools growing up.

There was a changing point in a science class. No one else knew the answer to a maths question; I took a chance. I realised I could do something, and I could do other things.


Aderin-Pocock: I’ve just released a book called The Book of the Moon. The Moon mesmerises me. The book was a labour of love.

I want to encourage young women to move into STEM. It’s a case of “Houston, we have a problem”. Working as a space scientist, I have had problems recruiting people, let alone women.

I love speaking to schoolkids about the moon landings. They often aren’t aware it even happened. I speak about what motivated me to be a scientist. I put it down to The Clangers. I used to watch it with passion and I wanted to meet them from about 2.5 years old.



Michael Wignall, CTO of Microsoft UK, is back on stage. He introduces scientist Dr Maggie Aderin-Pocock, who will talk about the power of crazy dreams.


We just have time before the final keynote of the day to remind you all that we will be live-blogging Future Decoded tomorrow, too. Be sure to tune in at 9:30am for the first keynote, featuring Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie and Esther McVey MP.


Michael Wignall has just finished his talk and we are waiting for the closing keynote. That’s up soon in the main arena.

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Wignall: AI should be used alongside people. Humans should have the final decision at the end of the day. That’s why we need to have a discussion now about ethics. We don’t want it to be biased. We also need to be really clear about accountability.


Wignall: We have reached human parity on object, speech and language recognition. Customers are using pre-existing bots in Microsoft Cognitive Services, which is giving them a good customer experience. Why would they spend time and money developing their own?


Wignall: We have had AI capabilities for a while. A million new devices an hour will be online by 2020, with people producing 1.5gig a day.


Wignall: Companies already embracing AI perform 5% better than those who do not, and Microsoft wants to empower every organisation to achieve more.

Computing power will be everywhere. Tech that you might deploy in own data centres to your hub. Organisations will choose where to put their data to access it. AI will power everything, we want to put data in the cloud so we can do things.


Wignall: Microsoft thinks about tech trends with a world view and the fourth industrial revolution.


We are waiting for Microsoft UK CTO Michael Wignall to start his talk on tech trends.

Microsoft logo


Fordham: Many companies have technology that can aid learning but aren’t using it. We have a program to coach learning champions, to share learning.

And with that, Ian wraps up the talk. On to the next experience!


Out on the exhibition floor, Rackspace are giving out Halloween bags! We want one.


Golding: In a world of data, it’s easy to track anything, but we don’t track course completion and engagement. We publish 3,000 courses a year, there is no way they will all be completed by a lot of people.

FD panel


Golding: We see traffic spiking during commuting hours. These are soft skills on things like negotiation. If you’re an organisation you need to embrace the idea that learning can happen anywhere. That comes from the top.

Organisations that are passionate about learning are promoting topics like diversity to their workforce.


Harrington: You need to be an amazing employer to keep staff. It’s hard. Take cybersecurity, there is such competition there, from very junior people all the way up.


Angelides: Anyone can learn anything if you have a curious mindset.

Golding: We are seeing two interesting trends. From a younger perspective, they want to be given the opportunity to develop their own skills and companies are realising that. A large proportion of people coming out of college and going into the workforce have experience on online learning. They are used to referring to a digital resource to learn how to do things.

For an older group, it’s different, but I don’t think a 60-year-old is suddenly going to be asked to learn JavaScript. Technology is not just about coding. They are wrapping their heads around making decisions using data, and they think face-to-face learning is better when many companies are moving towards online learning.


He’s joined by Lisa Harrington from QA, June Angelides from Mums in Technology and Mordy Golding from LinkedIn Learning.

Golding: 600 million people across the world have LinkedIn profiles. LinkedIn is also used by recruiters, so we can see data and what words and skills people are using in their CVs. The top skill people put on their CV is Excel.

The largest skills gap is communication; companies need great communicators and you can’t suddenly become one of those by taking a course.

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Harrington: We get asked about digital transformation a lot but companies often aren’t sure about what it really means.

Angelides: Confidence in digital skills is really important. Companies bring their staff with them when they digitally transform, and it’s good to be curious and embrace lifelong learning.


We are now in a panel being hosted by Ian Fordham, Chief Learning and Skills Officer at Microsoft, on 21st century learning. There’s so much going on at this year’s Future Decoded!



Roche: I can write a note using my Surface Pen and convert it into text, saving a lot of time. I can also do this in Word. I can highlight sections, add and remove words at the stroke of a pen.

In PowerPoint we have created a design tab that allows me to lay out my slide in a really attractive way with just a click.

In Outlook, Read Aloud will read my emails to me. This allows people to still communicate via email.


Roche: If you have a Surface Pen, make sure it is set up for right or left-handed writing. The button on the end of the pen allows me to do different things. I can control my slides just by clicking my Pen, or bring up Cortana, or take notes.

You can use the Pen with the Whiteboard app, which allows for collaboration. I can invite people to my whiteboard to work with them.



Roche: We have transformed how we work, and that is continuing.

You should register your device when you first buy it. It will then configure the device. Just buy connecting to WiFi, you can set it up and start being productive. No calling an IT team.


We are back in the expo hall, waiting for Surface Evangelist Chris Roche to give a talk on productivity.

Future Decoded stand


Bishop: What can we all do to steer this technology. I call on every person in the room to help because this will help all of us. We have an opportunity and it will take all of us to make the most of it.


Bishop: AI will have a big impact on healthcare, which affects everyone. Costs in the sector are growing and the upside for introducing AI there are huge. There are so many opportunities. It’s not always big, expensive things, it can be as simple as gathering data. But there are challenges: the balance between privacy – I don’t want my medical history posted online but I do want it to help others.

Chris Bishop Graphic


Tabitha Goldstaub, from Cognition X: I’m really excited about Microsoft’s AI start-up plan in London.

Some start-ups are not encumbered with legacy systems so can adopt AI quickly, like start-up banks and insurers. We need to foster that and help them get to big business. AI could be the time when the UK sees some big businesses emerging and more “unicorns”.


Lord Clement-Jones: The use of data by public authorities such as the heath sector can build public trust. We are in advance of other nations and that gives us a leadership role. But we are alive to a lot of issues coming down the track.

Bishop: These technologies will change the nature of work. But when we created a machine that can play chess, people didn’t stop playing chess. The issue is time – the change now is going to be rapid.


Rose: AI will help humans and create exciting new jobs but there will be job displacement.


Chris Bishop says he is hugely optimistic about the future of AI. UK is best country in the world for AI talent.



Cindy Rose, UK CEO of Microsoft, and Cambridge Research Lab Director Chris Bishop now taking part in AI and ethics panel.


Meanwhile, outside the keynote:


Microsoft also announces AccountGuard is coming to the UK.

The service will provide notification about cyberthreats, including attacks by known nation-state actors, in a unified way across both email systems run by eligible organisations and the personal accounts of these organisations’ leaders and staff. It will also offer ongoing security guidance and education and provide early adopter opportunities for security features.


The Microsoft Research-Cambridge University Machine Learning Initiative will provide support for Ph.D. students at the world-leading university, and offer a postdoctoral research position  at Microsoft Research Lab, Cambridge . Our aim is to realise artificial intelligence’s potential in enhancing the human experience and to nurture the next generation of researchers and talent in the field.

Women scientists in laboratory looking at surface tablet

The Microsoft Research-Cambridge University Machine Learning Initiative builds on a decades-long relationship in Cambridge between Microsoft Research and the university. It also represents our strong commitment to collaborating with others to ensure there is a pipeline of future researchers who are equipped to take AI forwards into the future.


Microsoft is partnering with the University of Cambridge to boost the number of AI researchers in the UK and help them change the world for the better.

Read the full story here


Bishop: We can do more good by partnering with academia. We are launching new initiative with Cambridge University to invest in internship, consultancy positions, researchers. We want to help to realise potential of AI to benefit humans and nurture next generation of AI talent. By working with academia, we will unlock full benefits of AI.


Bishop: Data is powering this revolution, along with massive computing power, which is why the cloud will be so important. New machine learning algorithms has allowed these new technologies to be created.


Bishop: The amount of data in the world doubles every couple of years, it’s growing exponentially. There are many exciting we can do with machine learning. One is a collaboration between Microsoft and Adaptive Biotechnologies, which allows them to sequence genetic material. They are learning to decode the immune system to diagnose disease.

We want to take advantage of that capability, to use machine learning and the cloud to produce a universal blood test. It will detect cancer at a much earlier stage and find any conditions you may have.


Bishop: We are a very long way from having machines can do all the creative activities that the human brain is capable of. But there is something profound happening.

Moore’s law was a singular moment in development of hardware. It was transformational.

Modern software developers have become more productive. One line of code could invoke thousands of lines of code created by others, building on the work of others. A developer is still effectively telling the machine how to solve the problem. But AI is built on machine learning – we don’t tell the machine how to solve the problem, we write different software that teaches the machine how to learn.

Chris BIshop


Chris Bishop, Lab Director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, now on stage to give his view of AI.


KPMG: Lots of people have been playing with AI but we need to start planning, focus on the client. Stop playing, start doing.



Lauren Sager Weinstein, Chief Data Officer at Transport for London: Our customers are trusting us with their data. We are very transparent about how we collect and use data, we talk to our customers about it.


Brauer now running a panel session with senior staff from KPMG, and Transport for London.


Brauer: Get on the bus of AI. 59% of the workforce is willing to use AI, they want to engage with it meaningfully in their jobs. It will free them up to the parts of their job they really want to do.

If you want to get the most out of AI and your workforce, you need to take your workforce on that AI journey along with you. Embrace the potential of AI, consider ethics and develop tomorrow’s skills, today.



Brauer: Microsoft occupies a unique position in AI – striking a balance between opportunity and responsibility. They are looking at how to capitalise on the benefits while applying it to benefits of workforce and humanity.


Dr Chris Brauer from Goldsmiths, University of London, now on stage to talk more about the research Microsoft released this morning.


Zander: I want to talk about AI Azure services. You can use our pre-built services, which allow you to move quickly. But we can also help you with custom set-ups. We’ve made investments in every stage of AI Azure, so it’s easy for you. It fits in with how you work already.

Shell is using Azure IOT Edge to manage pipeline, upstream portion of oil and gas business. They have prototype code to spot if someone is smoking at a petrol station, and they can shut off the nearest pump to keep people safe.

Mercedes is taking data from a lot of places and running AI to find the best ways to introduce offers across the world.

ASOS has 18m customers in 200 countries and 85,000 products – 5,000 updated on a weekly basis. They have moved their entire e-commerce site to Azure. They are doing visual search and a fashion bot to make suggestions.

Azure slide


Zander: Azure Cosmos DB, is a globally distributed database. I can say: here is the region I would like my data to land in.



Zander: Microsoft is getting even more cloud coverage. Wherever you do business, we have a solution for you. We have over 4,500 peering locations, we have over 33,000 miles of cable. We put a cable between Virginia and Spain, just an example of our worldwide coverage that’s helping businesses get closer to their customers.

You can run the most demanding workloads. Microsoft is the only company that offers a value proposition on hybrid. People need this combination and we invested in Azure Stack – our third generation of hybrid software.

Jason Zander


Rose hands over to Jason Zander, EVP of Azure. He begins by talking about how the intelligent cloud helps people on a daily basis. It can help you decide “whether to take the Tube or a cab in the morning”.


Rose: Get started on AI today. The UK has an opportunity to lead on this.


Rose: We are launching the AI Academy to run face-to-face and online sessions, to teach digital skills. To empower organisations in AI we want to make sure we have the most AI-skilled workforce.


Our research today shines a light on how organisations are using AI. IT contains interviews with experts and a survey of more than 1,000 business leaders and 4,000 employees.


Rose: The world today produces more data than humans can make sense of. Cloud enables rapid understanding of this data and Microsoft is investing billions in the cloud.

We need to adhere to clear principles when creating AI. We should look at what should we build with AI.

We need to intensify our efforts to prepare today’s workforce for the jobs of tomorrow. Success tomorrow takes action today. We need to ensure no one is left behind.

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Rose: We have no doubt that AI will power the next wave of digital transformation. Microsoft is working with companies in every sector who are already using AI to improve productivity and create new revenue streams. AI could add up to £230bn to our economy. It’s critical to future prosperity of UK. It will be game-changing.


Rose: AI is showing up in unexpected places. AI even being used to map Shakespeare plays, highlighting highs and lows of plays, plot twists. AI shows its Romeo who suffers from extreme emotional volatility. AI has the power to do this.


Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose now on stage.

Cindy Rose


Wignall: Five years ago people were just getting into the cloud. This is the fifth year we have been hosting Future Decoded. Satya Nadella stood on this stage, since then we’ve seen an evolution of tech.

We are in era of intelligent cloud and intelligent edge, with AI at its core


The keynote is underway! CTO Michael Wignall is on stage

Michael WIgnall


Microsoft’s research on AI in book form! IT reveals that UK companies are at risk of falling behind due to a lack of AI strategy. You can read the full story here.

Future Decoded research


Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose is preparing to take to the stage at 9:30am. Just putting the final touches to her talk:


Less than half an hour to go until the first keynote gets under way! Meanwhile, people are enjoying the expo, which is full of Microsoft products, partners and tech.


The ExCeL is busy already! Everyone is looking forward to two days of tech.

Future decoded concourse



As well as the keynotes, there will be breakout sessions throughout the day. These focus on everything from developers and the cloud, to education, quantum computing and accessibility. You can find the full agenda at our Future Decoded website.


The main doors are open, and this is what people will be seeing:

Visr at Future Decoded

Tube station at Future Decoded

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Keynote this morning start at 9:30 and will feature Microsoft UK CEO Cindy Rose, CTO Michael Wignall, EVP of Azure Jason Zander, and Cambridge Research Lab Director Chris Bishop.

Doors open at 8:30!


There’s a Microsoft timeline at the entrance to Future Decoded. It’s one of the best things we’ve seen, and a treat for any Microsoft fan:


Lots of excitement on Twitter already:


Don’t forget to visit our Future Decoded website to find everything you need to know about the event


Microsoft published research this morning that found that Artificial intelligence is changing the UK so fast that nearly half of bosses believe their business model won’t exist by 2023.

The research – entitled Maximising the AI Opportunity – found that this country has a unique opportunity to lead the world in the development and use of AI but only if companies act quickly to embrace it.

Two male workers in factory, one holding Surface laptop

While 41% of business leaders believe they will have to dramatically change the way they work within the next five years, more than half (51%) do not have an AI strategy in place to address those challenges.

Clare Barclay, Chief Operating Officer of Microsoft UK, said: “AI represents a huge opportunity, but only if UK organisations embrace its application in the right way. AI is not about making UK businesses leaner, it’s about how we use the technology to make them stronger. In doing so, we can make our work more meaningful and boost UK competitiveness.”


Good morning and welcome to Microsoft’s live blog for Future Decoded 2018. We will bring you everything that’s happening at the company’s biggest UK event, live from the ExCeL in London.

We are expecting thousands of visitors here over the next two days, who will hear from speakers including Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella, UK CEO Cindy Rose, Chief Accessibility Officer Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft Research Cambridge Lab Director Chris Bishop, Secretary of State for Work and Pensions Esther McVey, actor Michael Caine, plus many more.