Because MSR (Microsoft Research) almost exclusively focuses on software, the group’s passions favor computing applications, rather than mechanisms or infrastructure. Stick a tape recorder in front of Rashid, for example, and he will muse at length about the implications of a world with virtually unlimited data storage.
In just a few years, he says, a terabyte of storage will be cheap enough to be within the reach of most consumers. Rashid is confident of an explosion in computing resources and capabilities. “What I do worry about is, are we going to be able to do anything with them?” Such is his charge to MSR: Figure out how people can take advantage of unlimited storage, gobs of bandwidth, and scads of processing power.
Examples of creative data mining and management abound. Anoop Gupta, a former Stanford computer science professor, has cooked up software that automatically produces highlight reels, or summaries, of video content.