Microsoft Introduces Teams Updates to Reduce User Fatigue

As COVID-19 keeps schools and businesses shut down, Microsoft has unveiled updates for its video communication platform Teams to help online meeting participants feel more connected. One such feature is Together Mode, which lets participants set the call to a shared background image so everyone feels a bit more like they’re sitting in the same room. The genesis of the feature came when Stanford University professor Jeremy Bailenson realized how fatiguing videoconferences could be, and contacted his friend, Microsoft Research scientist Jaron Lanier. Teams is also adding emoji, video filters, and integration of Tasks and Cortana. Continue reading Microsoft Introduces Teams Updates to Reduce User Fatigue

Microsoft Research Leads Team to Author AI Ethics Checklist

Microsoft Research, with almost 50 engineers from a dozen technology companies, created a checklist for AI ethics intended to spur conversation on the topic and raise some “good tension” within organizations. To that end, the list, rather than asking “yes” or “no” questions, instead suggests that teams “define fairness criteria.” Participants were not identified by name, but many are in AI-related fields like computer vision, natural language processing and predictive analytics. The group hopes to inspire future efforts. Continue reading Microsoft Research Leads Team to Author AI Ethics Checklist

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

Intel Describes Tool to Train AI Models With Encrypted Data

Intel revealed that it has made progress in an anonymized, encrypted method of model training. Industries such as healthcare that need a way to use AI tools on sensitive, personally identifiable information have been waiting for just such a capability. At the NeurIPS 2018 conference in Montreal, Intel showed off its open-sourced HE-Transformer that works as a backend to its nGraph neural network compiler, allowing AI models to work on encrypted data. HE-Transformer is also based on a Microsoft Research encryption library. Continue reading Intel Describes Tool to Train AI Models With Encrypted Data

Microsoft and Google Making Progress in Streaming Games

Streaming games have taken a step forward. Microsoft is tapping its Research division and 54 global regional Azure data centers for Project xCloud, which aims to transform the Xbox from a box into a hub. The company hopes to test it publicly in 2019. Meanwhile, Google is beta-testing Project Stream, which streams games over the Internet via the Chrome browser. Although gaming boasts 2.3 billion players, console makers are now second place to mobile games, which are responsible for more than half of this year’s $138 billion revenue. Continue reading Microsoft and Google Making Progress in Streaming Games

Microsoft Is Developing Cost-Effective Security for IoT Devices

IoT security researchers at Microsoft Research are focused on the near future when microcontrollers, which are small, low-power computers on a single chip, gain connectivity. Microcontrollers are already installed in billions of gadgets, so their eventual connectivity will explode the number of Internet of Things devices, all of which will require greater security. Microsoft Research’s Project Sopris aims to provide cost-effective security for microcontrollers, which currently don’t have enough compute power to offer security. Continue reading Microsoft Is Developing Cost-Effective Security for IoT Devices

Microsoft Intros Brainwave, Jumpstarting AI Hardware Speed

Microsoft has debuted Brainwave, a system that improves AI hardware performance, enabling machine learning at speeds beyond what’s available today with CPUs or GPUs. At the Hot Chips symposium in Cupertino, California, researchers showed off a Gated Recurrent Unit model running on Intel’s newly released Stratix 10 FPGA (field programmable gate array chip), at a speed of 39.5 teraflops without batching operations. Brainwave currently supports models constructed with Microsoft’s CNTK framework and Google’s TensorFlow framework. Continue reading Microsoft Intros Brainwave, Jumpstarting AI Hardware Speed

Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft is developing a chip designed specifically for artificial intelligence processing. A version of its Holographic Processing Unit, used for its HoloLens headset, the new chip will be integrated with the next version of HoloLens, to be launched at an as-of-yet undetermined date. Microsoft isn’t alone in taking chip manufacturing in-house, especially with regards to AI processing. Apple’s iPhone prototypes include the company’s AI-specific chip, and Google is working on its own second-generation AI chip. Continue reading Microsoft Develops Its Own Chips to Power AI in the Cloud

Microsoft Encourages Testing of New IoT Security Paradigm

Security is a top concern for the Internet of Things, in particular when large numbers of IoT devices are deployed in an organization. There’s been a rise in attacks on such devices, via botnets, and a search engine, Shodan, is dedicated to finding unsecured IoT hardware endpoints. In that context, Microsoft, which is updating its Azure IoT toolset, is also testing a new approach to securing and managing such devices. Dubbed Project Sopris, Microsoft Research hopes to mix secure hardware and a secure communications channel. Continue reading Microsoft Encourages Testing of New IoT Security Paradigm

Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Amazon, Facebook, Google, IBM and Microsoft established the Partnership on AI to create ground rules for protecting people and their jobs in the face of rapidly expanding artificial intelligence. The organization is also intended to address the public’s concern about increasingly capable machines, and corporations’ worries about potential government regulation. One of the organization’s first efforts was to agree upon and then issue basic ethical standards for development and research in artificial intelligence. Continue reading Tech Behemoths Establish Partnership on Artificial Intelligence

Microsoft Stream Offers Familiar Video Tools for Businesses

Microsoft introduced Stream, a service that will allow businesses the ability to share internal video easily and securely. Now available as a free preview, Stream offers the same easy-to-use, flexible tools as YouTube, but with security tools for enterprise content. Office 365 already has a Video tool, and Microsoft’s idea is to eventually and seamlessly merge the two services. Unlike Office 365, Stream will make use of tools — including likes, comments, and recommendations — found in consumer platforms such as Vimeo and YouTube. Continue reading Microsoft Stream Offers Familiar Video Tools for Businesses

Researchers Print Micro Circuits with Cheap Ink-Jet Printers

Researchers from Georgia Tech, the University of Tokyo, and Microsoft Research have developed a technique in which cheap, functional electric circuits can be printed using only $300 of material and equipment. This technique uses silver nanoparticle ink instead of utilizing sintering. The researchers were able to print a circuit in roughly 60 seconds onto almost any material that can go through a printer, though some materials worked better than others. Continue reading Researchers Print Micro Circuits with Cheap Ink-Jet Printers