Microsoft CEO warns that world is "running out of computing capacity"

Tim Maytom

Speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella has warned that the world is rapidly running out of the computing capacity needed to tackle advanced problems and power our most sophisticated technology.

Nadella called for increased research into superfast quantum computers that would be able to tackle some of the world's most pressing and complex problems, like creating a carbon-absorbing catalyst to help tackle climate change.

He argued that while such a solution could provide a major step in fighting back against carbon emissions, it would likely prove impossible without a dramatic increase in computer processing power. He also warned that traditional methods of boosting computer efficiency were beginning to hit their hard limits.

"Moore's Law is kinda running out of steam," Nadella told the assembled delegates, referring to the maxim that the power of computer chips doubles every two years.

Nadella also criticised re-skilling programs that seek to retrain workers whose professions have been lost to automation or outsourced due to globalisation. He said that such schemes are often "done without a true understanding of where the labour market is going", and that a focus should instead be placed on reforming school curriculums to reflect the changing economy.

Earlier, in another session, Klaus Schwad, the founder of the World Economic Forum, called on leading tech executives to place more consideration on how their products are disrupting the economic, political and social lives of consumers.

"If we act now, we have the opportunity to ensure that technologies such as artificial intelligence sustainably and meaningfully improve the lives and prospects of as many people as possible," said Schwab.