No-Code AI and Prediction Tools Bring Coding to the People

A new AI revolution is underway, turning people who know little about coding into developers. Called “no code,” startups are emerging to productize this new category, which essentially lets people use familiar, clickable web interfaces and even natural language to automate tasks or create simple applications, while machine learning takes over the rest. Proponents predict it will be a game-changer, powering a brigade of “citizen developers” to leverage artificial intelligence without knowing how to write code. Startups entering the space include Juji, which makes creating AI chatbots as easy as programming PowerPoint. Continue reading No-Code AI and Prediction Tools Bring Coding to the People

Espresso Raises $32M in Its Bid to Advance Blockchain Tech

Cryptography experts from Stanford University are brewing up Espresso, a new Layer-1 system that aims to crack the so-called ‘blockchain trilemma’ of balancing decentralization, security and scalability. Described as a privacy-focused blockchain geared to those who find the public-facing aspect of most platforms unsuitable for their sensitive data, Espresso Systems is building “solutions that will unlock new possibilities for Web3 applications and usher in the next generation of users.” The company stepped out of the lab this week to introduce itself with $32 million in funding, led by Electric Capital and Greylock Partners. Continue reading Espresso Raises $32M in Its Bid to Advance Blockchain Tech

Lifted by Cloud, Microsoft Sales Jump 20 Percent for Quarter

Microsoft ended Q2 for fiscal year 2022 on a high note, with sales up 20 percent to $51.7 billion, and net income rising 21 percent to $18.8 billion, beating analysts’ predictions. Cloud revenue grew 32 percent year-over-year, hitting $22.1 billion. Revenue in Microsoft’s Intelligent Cloud business was $18.3 billion, a 26 percent jump propelled largely by a basically flat 46 percent increase from Azure and cloud services. “Digital technology is the most malleable resource at the world’s disposal to overcome constraints and reimagine everyday work and life,” Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella said in the earnings release. Continue reading Lifted by Cloud, Microsoft Sales Jump 20 Percent for Quarter

New Blockchain Divide Between Consumers and Tech Titans

Cryptocurrency and NFTs seem to be getting a much different reception from the average consumer than the tech titans that helped launch the crazes. While entrepreneurs such as Elon Musk, Jack Dorsey and Chris Dixon have dropped millions-to-billions into various blockchain piggy banks, Ubisoft gamers, startups on Kickstarter and artists like Brian Eno are speaking out against everything from NFTs to digital coins. Gamers, in particular, have made their disapproval known, somewhat surprising given they’re typically first-movers, eager to try new technologies and push boundaries. Now, reports are emerging of a schism in the game world. Continue reading New Blockchain Divide Between Consumers and Tech Titans

Microsoft’s 22 Percent Q1 Growth Outperforms Expectations

Propelled by Azure cloud services, Microsoft reported $45.3 billion in revenue for its first quarter 2022, ending up 22 percent year-over-year for the period ending September 30. “We delivered a strong start to the fiscal year with our Microsoft Cloud generating $20.7 billion in revenue for the quarter, up 36 percent [YOY]”, Microsoft executive vice president and chief financial officer Amy Hood said regarding the announcement. Describing digital technology as “a deflationary force in an inflationary economy,” Microsoft chairman and CEO Satya Nadella opined that businesses, small and large, can improve productivity and affordability “by building tech intensity.” Continue reading Microsoft’s 22 Percent Q1 Growth Outperforms Expectations

OpenAI Debuts Tool to Translate Natural Language into Code

OpenAI’s Codex, an AI system that translates natural language into code, was released via an API in private beta. Codex, trained on billions of lines of public code, can turn plain English commands into 12+ programming languages and also powers GitHub service Copilot that suggests whole lines of code within Microsoft Visual Studio and other development environments. OpenAI explained that Codex will be offered for free during an “initial period,” and invites “businesses and developers to build on top of it through the API.”

Continue reading OpenAI Debuts Tool to Translate Natural Language into Code

Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Microsoft experienced a successful quarter, due in large part to significant growth in Azure cloud services. The company reported overall Q4 sales of $46.2 billion, up about 21 percent year-over-year, for a $16.5 billion profit, an increase of 47 percent year-over-year. Similar to other Big Tech companies, Microsoft’s numbers exceeded Wall Street expectations. According to chief financial officer Amy Hood, Microsoft expects overall sales of $44.2 billion for the current quarter. Microsoft’s stock is currently up 40 percent over the last year, and its valuation is now $2+ trillion, second only to its rival Apple. Continue reading Azure Drives Impressive Quarterly Sales, Profits for Microsoft

Industry Alliance Promotes Secure, Royalty-Free IoT Standard

The Connectivity Standards Alliance (CSA), an industry group spearheaded by Amazon, Apple, Comcast, Google and SmartThings and focused on the Internet of Things (IoT), has debuted Matter, an interoperable, secure connectivity standard for the future smart home. Formerly known as the Zigbee Alliance, CSA came together with those key Big Tech companies in 2019 to develop and promote an open IoT standard. Matter is a royalty-free unified IP-based connectivity protocol built specifically for IoT systems that enable communication among smart devices. Continue reading Industry Alliance Promotes Secure, Royalty-Free IoT Standard

Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Microsoft quarterly numbers exceeded analysts’ expectations and drove stock up 50 percent, bringing the company close to a $2 trillion valuation, second only to Apple’s. During the COVID-19 pandemic, the shift to remote working and remote learning drove strong uptake of the company’s cloud computing services and video game units. Although chip shortages are slowing down hardware sales, chief executive Satya Nadella reported that digital adoption curves “aren’t slowing down … they’re accelerating.” Continue reading Microsoft’s Q3 Sales Jump, Driving Near $2 Trillion Valuation

Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Startup Fancy Bits, founded by two former GitHub employees, has launched Channels, a kind of DVR for the streaming age. The $8 per month service pulls video from feeds as disparate as cable channels, live streaming apps, on-demand services and over-the-air broadcasts and places them into a single app. “What we’re building towards is something that was sort of built 20 years ago,” said co-founder Jon Maddox. “Really, we’re just trying to make this single place for people to go watch their TV that everybody is looking for.” Continue reading Startup Debuts a DVR-Like App for Media Content: ‘Channels’

Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

To help fight the unemployment created by the COVID-19 pandemic, Microsoft and LinkedIn (which Microsoft acquired in 2016) plan to offer free online classes and job-hunting resources to 25 million people around the world by the end of 2020. The two companies have identified 10 booming occupations — including data analyst, digital marketer and help-desk technician — that require digital skills they aim to teach. These professionals also pay relatively well, even for those without a college degree. Continue reading Microsoft Will Offer Free Digital Training for 25 Million People

Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

At Microsoft’s Build 2020 developer conference, the company debuted a supercomputer built in collaboration with, and exclusively for, OpenAI on Azure. It’s the result of an agreement whereby Microsoft would invest $1 billion in OpenAI to develop new technologies for Microsoft Azure and extend AI capabilities. OpenAI agreed to license some of its IP to Microsoft, which would then sell to partners as well as train and run AI models on Azure. Microsoft stated that the supercomputer is the fifth most powerful in the world. Continue reading Microsoft Announces Azure-Hosted OpenAI Supercomputer

Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

Researchers at Microsoft Research Asia and the Harbin Institute of Technology have come up with a new technique to use artificial intelligence to generate live video captions. In the past, technologists have used encoder-decoder models, but didn’t model the interaction between videos and comments, resulting in mainly irrelevant comments. The new technique — based on a model that iteratively learns to capture the representations of audio, video and comments — outperforms current methods, according to the research team. Continue reading Researchers Create AI Technique to Generate Video Captions

GitHub Is Planning a Vault to Preserve Open Source Code

Microsoft’s GitHub revealed plans for the Arctic Code Vault to store open source projects on film with 8.8-million pixel frames. The Vault will be constructed in a decommissioned coal mine in Svalbard, Norway, to preserve TensorFlow, Flutter and other open source software for 1,000 years. Svalbard, also home to a global seed vault, is one of the most northern cities on earth, with permafrost that extends “hundreds of meters” below the surface. GitHub also launched its own official mobile app. Continue reading GitHub Is Planning a Vault to Preserve Open Source Code

Google Open-Sources Real-Time Gesture Recognition Tech

Google relied on computer vision and machine learning to research a better way to perceive hand shapes and motions in real-time, for use in gesture control systems, sign language recognition and augmented reality. The result is the ability to infer up to 21 3D points of a hand (or hands) on a mobile phone from a single frame. Google, which demonstrated the technique at the 2019 Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, also put the source code and a complete use case scenario on GitHub. Continue reading Google Open-Sources Real-Time Gesture Recognition Tech