TORONTO — Microsoft has broken its silence on its acquisition of LinkedIn. Kind of.
During the keynote on the final day of Microsoft’s Worldwide Partner Conference (WPC), Microsoft president and chief legal officer Brad Smith said that one of the reasons he is excited about the LinkedIn acquisition is that it will help people advance their education and connect with their next jobs, a particularly important tool as more and more jobs are replaced with automation.
“There’s so much that technology can do,” Smith said. “We need to do more than advance the cloud; we need to build the cloud for good.”
So what does he mean by building the cloud for good? Smith outlined several examples of how Microsoft cloud is used to promote good around the world. In one example, Azure data analytics and machine learning is used in Tacoma, Wash. high schools to identify at risk students to lower dropout rates.
According to Smith, the cloud for good will need to be three things: trusted, responsible, and inclusive.
Trusted cloud is something that Microsoft has been emphasizing throughout the conference, not just in terms of security but also in terms of privacy and transparency. The company has been vocal in its fight for user privacy, launching four lawsuits against the U.S. government. In April, Microsoft sued the Department of Justice
Smith enforced the idea of needing to stand up for transparency; “We need an internet that respects people’s rights, we need an internet that is governed by good law,” he said.
“We need to practice what we preach. We have to a great job of respecting people’s privacy,” he said.
In Microsoft’s view a responsible cloud is an earth-friendly one.
“We need to think about the environment,” Smith said. “We’re consuming more electricity than Vermont.”
Smith said that Microsoft is committed to transparency so people will know how much it is consuming in terms of electricity. He said the company has promised to use more renewable energy each year. In two years, Microsoft will surpass 50 percent renewable energy, up from 44 percent today.
One of the defining issues of our time, according to Smith, is what the future of the workforce will look like as more jobs are replaced with technology.
“What jobs will disappear?” Smith said. “Where are the new jobs going to come from? That’s what the world is asking.”
Smith said there is a need to make sure that every business can grow and create new jobs. Microsoft is doing his part, he said, by partnerships that are bringing coding and computer science to schools.
“We know that when we give young people these opportunities they take advantage of them,” he said.
“Diversity is strength,” he said. “That’s one of the reasons we’re excited about LinkedIn.”