Building a cloud for global good

Today Satya Nadella and I are in Dublin. It’s the first stop on a trip that will also take us to Paris and Berlin, with Satya also visiting London. We’re spending this week meeting with customers, partners, developers and government leaders. We’ll talk about how the Microsoft Cloud is driving the transformation of businesses and industries across Europe and around the world. We’ll talk about how our customers have harnessed the cloud to create new capabilities, connect with their customers in deeper ways, solve problems, gain insights, and access new markets. We’ll also highlight Microsoft’s broad investment in the cloud in Europe and our unique approach to meeting customer needs by offering more choice and flexibility.

There is another important issue we’re talking about and that reaches beyond Europe. This morning we also announced the publication of a book from Microsoft called A Cloud for Global Good. We believe we’ve reached an important point in the evolution of technology and we want to contribute to the discussion about how we move forward.

Advanced analytics, mobile devices, artificial intelligence, machine learning, robotics, and genomics are transforming every aspect of how people live, communicate, work, and learn. We’re in a period of rapid transformation that offers huge potential to not just help business but to also help tackle some of the world’s most pressing issues in areas such as health, education and the environment. At the heart of these advances is cloud computing.

As I travel the world and see how people and organizations are using the transformative power of the cloud to improve their lives and businesses, it has reinforced my optimism about the future. But as we realize the benefits of cloud based innovation, it’s important to recognize the disruptive impact that technology can have on society. We need to ensure that technology moves forward without leaving people behind. We need to work together to build a cloud that is trusted, a cloud that is responsible, and a cloud that is inclusive. In short, we need to build a cloud for global good.

Today, people look at the rapid changes taking place around them and ask valid questions and raise important concerns. How does this new technology impact safety of their communities, their personal privacy or the future of jobs and work? Are we taking the right steps as societies to ensure that people young and old alike will have the skills they’ll need for the future? These are some of the important questions that we need to ask and work together to answer. A Cloud for Global Good is intended to be part of Microsoft’s contribution to this discussion.

Progress requires clear goals and a commitment to shared responsibility. In A Cloud for Global Good, we offer a three-part framework that focuses on creating a trusted, responsible, and inclusive cloud that will help ensure that technology benefits everyone, not just the fortunate few. It includes 78 policy recommendations in 15 areas ranging from privacy, security, and safety to environmental sustainability, artificial intelligence, and education and jobs skills training. It offers our view of the need for a broad-based approach by governments, coupled with a strong sense of shared responsibility and action by those of us in the private sector. This book therefore offers suggestions about the steps governments, the tech industry, and civil society can take to build a cloud that serves the broader good.

Progress will also require closer collaboration internationally. Data needs to move across borders, but people need to retain their rights in their personal information and governments need the ability to work together to protect public safety. A new generation of global technology requires a new generation of international law.

Obviously, we don’t have all the answers. No single person, enterprise, or organization does. The issues are too important and the stakes are too high. But, as a company at the forefront of the cloud computing revolution, we recognize that we have a responsibility to address these issues directly and with candor.

We also recognize that this isn’t just about ideas alone. We understand that we also need to act. We’re committed to continued steps as a company through concrete commitments to transparency, privacy, sustainability, affordable access, digital literacy, education, skills, and more.  We spell out some of the steps we’re taking in A Cloud for Global Good.

On many of these issues it will ultimately be up to governments to chart a path forward. The laws that policymakers adopt and governments implement during the next few years will have a profound impact on economic growth and social mobility for decades to come. We hope A Cloud for Global Good will provide a useful resource for policymakers, citizens, business owners, educators, advocates, and other experts.

We all need to join together and weigh all of the benefits and challenges as we chart the way forward.  It won’t be easy, but if we work together we can build a true cloud for global good.

If you’re interested in learning more and reading A Cloud for Global Good, you can find it here.

About the Author

President and Chief Legal Officer

Brad Smith is Microsoft’s president and chief legal officer. Smith plays a key role in representing the company externally and in leading the company’s work on a number of critical issues including privacy, security, accessibility, environmental sustainability and digital inclusion, among others.