OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

OpenAI unveiled a $100 million OpenAI Startup Fund to fund early-stage companies pursuing ways that AI can have a “transformative” impact on healthcare, education, climate change and other fields. OpenAI chief executive Sam Altman said the Fund will make “big, early bets” on no more than 10 such companies. OpenAI, with funding from Microsoft and others, will manage the Fund. Selected projects will get “early access” to future OpenAI systems, support from OpenAI’s team and credits for Microsoft Azure. Continue reading OpenAI and Microsoft Introduce $100 Million AI Startup Fund

After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

The SolarWinds hack invaded at least nine U.S. government agencies and 100+ corporations. Now, Microsoft is at odds with Dell Technologies and IBM on the best way to secure data. Microsoft president Brad Smith stated that “cloud migration is critical to improving security maturity,” but the other two companies opine that a hybrid cloud and on-premise data storage is preferable. Smith stated that all the breached accounts Microsoft identified involved on-premise systems and that a hybrid system is more vulnerable to attacks. Continue reading After SolarWinds Hack, Big Tech Debates Cloud Data Security

ETC Publishes Videos of ‘Ripple Effect’ Digital Town Square

On January 20, the Entertainment Technology Center at USC presented a Digital Town Square, the second of two “Ripple Effect” events. The 2.5-hour online program — “Breaking Down ‘Ripple Effect’ Part 2: Virtual Production” — was co-sponsored by Microsoft Azure and led by Erik Weaver, ETC Adaptive Production director and executive producer of “Ripple Effect.” The program examined lessons learned and virtual production principles of the live-action short. The keynotes, panels and fireside chat are currently available on ETC’s YouTube Channel. Continue reading ETC Publishes Videos of ‘Ripple Effect’ Digital Town Square

Microsoft Develops Video Authenticator to Identify Deepfakes

Microsoft debuted a Video Authenticator tool that can analyze a still photo or video to determine the percentage of the chance that it is an AI-manipulated deepfake. For videos, Microsoft said the tool will work on a frame-by-frame basis in real time. The company’s tool is based on a FaceForensics++ public database and detects the “blending boundary” of the deepfake, with “subtle fading or grayscale elements” that may be indistinguishable by the human eye. It has been tested on the Deepfake Detection Challenge dataset. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Video Authenticator to Identify Deepfakes

BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

The BBC partnered with Microsoft to release an early version of Beeb, its digital voice assistant. Its U.K. debut will be part of Microsoft’s Windows Insider Program to encourage users to help improve Beeb prior to a wider rollout. The BBC first announced Beeb last year, noting that the aim was to integrate voice services into all its products. The public broadcaster will collect data by requiring users to log in to Beeb with their BBC accounts but such data will not be used for targeted ads. Continue reading BBC Partners with Microsoft to Release Beeb Voice Assistant

Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

As a result of the global shutdown, personal and business Internet usage is way up. SimilarWeb reported that users spent an additional 5 billion hours of screen time in March — a 13 percent leap over February — on the 100 most popular sites, including Facebook and Google. Likewise, Amazon, Netflix and YouTube are thriving. That’s led to a surge in demand for chipsets. Micron Technology chief executive Sanjay Mehrotra said his company is shifting production of its chips away from smartphones and towards data-center products. Continue reading Chip Sales Surge as Screen Time Increases During Pandemic

Coronavirus Disruption Leads to Jump in Cloud Services Use

Amid the disruption of the coronavirus, cloud-computing services have become crucial in keeping people online and connected. Amazon, Google, Microsoft and others also provide the foundational technology for e-commerce, workplace collaboration tools like Slack Technologies, streaming video services such as Netflix and streaming game services. In fact, cloud services are pushed to their limits in some areas. In Australia, Microsoft advised some customers that Azure cloud is running out of capacity in some regions. Continue reading Coronavirus Disruption Leads to Jump in Cloud Services Use

Ampere Debuts High-Performance 80-Core ARM-Based Chip

Ampere introduced the industry’s first-ever 80-core ARM-based 64-bit server processor — the Ampere Altra processor — for use in cloud and edge computing data centers. The move puts the company in direct competition with Intel and Advanced Micro Devices. Intel currently has 95.5 percent of the server chip market, with AMD taking the rest. The Ampere Altra, which runs on 210 watts, is aimed at artificial intelligence, cloud-native applications, data analytics, database, edge computing, storage, telco stacks and web hosting. Continue reading Ampere Debuts High-Performance 80-Core ARM-Based Chip

AWS Previews Quantum Computing For Enterprise Clients

Amazon Web Services is previewing a quantum computing service to a select group of enterprise customers. The service, Amazon Braket, will allow enterprise customers to develop and test quantum algorithms in simulations to determine if and how quantum computing could be beneficial. “Braket” refers to a standard notation that describes quantum states. Its early stage quantum computer hardware includes solutions from D-Wave Systems, IonQ and Rigetti Computing. Amazon anticipates a wide rollout of the service in 2020. Continue reading AWS Previews Quantum Computing For Enterprise Clients

Disney, Microsoft Team Up to Shift Moviemaking to the Cloud

Walt Disney Studios and Microsoft inked a five-year deal to start transitioning filmmaking to Microsoft’s Azure cloud platform, with the goal of complete “scene to screen.” The effort is led by Disney’s StudioLAB. Walt Disney Studios chief technology officer Jamie Voris said the first step will be to move Avid editing tools into the cloud, to facilitate collaboration across locations. Microsoft U.S. president Kate Johnson noted that “we are at the tipping point for cloud in media and entertainment.” Continue reading Disney, Microsoft Team Up to Shift Moviemaking to the Cloud

Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

Apple and Microsoft signed on as premier members of the Academy Software Foundation (ASWF), founded in 2018 to promote the use of open source software in the movie industry. By joining ASWF, Apple and Microsoft pushed annual funding for the organization over $1 million. Microsoft also joined ASWF’s governing board and technical advisory council. ASWF is a joint project of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences and the Linux Foundation. ASWF executive director David Morin welcomed both companies into the fold. Continue reading Apple, Microsoft Latest to Join Academy Software Foundation

Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

According to market research company Newzoo, the United States is on the cusp of becoming the world’s top gaming market at $36.9 billion, the first time since 2015, and supplanting China. Newzoo said its forecast isn’t due to the 2018 freeze on gaming licenses in China, but rather is a reflection of “new console users and in general massive growth in console spending” on both Sony PlayStation and Microsoft Xbox. Newzoo senior market analyst Tom Wijman points out that about 50 percent of U.S. game revenues come from consoles. Continue reading Newzoo Forecasts U.S. Will Top Gaming Market This Year

Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Facing new threats from video game rivals, Microsoft and Sony announced something that some might find surprising: they’re teaming up to work on cloud and game-streaming technologies together. Through the partnership, Sony will consider using Microsoft’s Azure cloud service for streaming its game content, acknowledging the need for a strong cloud solution for game makers. There’s also room within the agreement for a potential collaboration involving Microsoft’s artificial intelligence and Sony’s image sensor clips.
Continue reading Microsoft, Sony Announce Partnership for Gaming Services

Microsoft’s Fiscal Q3 Boosted by Growth in Cloud Computing

Microsoft enjoyed a strong fiscal Q3, ending March 31, with revenue rising 14 percent from a year earlier to $30.57 billion, due largely to a 41 percent growth in cloud computing (now almost one-third of its sales) and a 9 percent uptick in sales of its Windows operating system to PC makers. A 5 percent decline of Windows sales in the previous quarter was due to a dearth of Intel computer chips, depressing PC sales. Chief financial officer Amy Hood said Microsoft also saw “unexpected good performance” in Japan. Continue reading Microsoft’s Fiscal Q3 Boosted by Growth in Cloud Computing

Microsoft HoloLens 2 Offers AI Processor, Cloud Connection

At MWC Barcelona (formerly Mobile World Congress), Microsoft introduced HoloLens 2, a new version of its four-year-old HoloLens headset, which is aimed at the enterprise use cases such as job training. Because the company is not targeting entertainment uses, HoloLens has maintained a low profile, focused on its corporate customers such as Bentley and Japan Airlines. Chief executive Satya Nadella stated his belief that “the next big tech breakthrough” will come from retail, healthcare or car manufacturing. Continue reading Microsoft HoloLens 2 Offers AI Processor, Cloud Connection