Technology Developers Must Prevent a Dystopian ‘1984’ Future, Warns Microsoft

George Orwell’s classic Nineteen Eighty-Four cautioned against a future of a world dominated by secret surveillance systems. At the annual Microsoft Build conference, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella used Orwell’s premonitions as a tool to argue that it’s up to technology developers to prevent such a reality from eventuating.

His comments refer to the future of computing, and more specifically, the development of AI or artificial intelligence. Nadella said that AI is rapidly gaining traction within society and developers need to consider the impact that their choices will have:

“What Orwell prophesied in 1984, where technology was being used to monitor, control, dictate, or what Huxley imagined we may do just by distracting ourselves without any meaning or purpose — neither of these futures is something that we want…That is part of the dystopia that can occur because of the abruptness of AI; in less than a generation we will be seeing things like driverless cars.”

Nadella also talked about linking up smart phones, smart surveillance cameras and other intelligent devices with “cloud power”, claiming the future will be organised around “smart clouds”.