Microsoft Mesh aims to bring holographic virtual collaboration to all

The platform will let developers easily build apps for cross-platform remote meetings.

By D. Hardawar

Last week, I sat around a table with fellow journalists as Greg Sullivan, Microsoft’s head of Mixed Reality, detailed the company’s vision for the future of virtual collaboration. Nobody was wearing masks or standing apart. We weren’t worried about getting sick. Instead, we were all wearing HoloLens 2 headsets and sitting in different parts of the world. The holographic table was right beside my actual desk, and my media pals were floating around my office as we chatted with our cartoonish avatars. For a second, it felt like mingling in real life during the Before Times.

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A DNA-based molecular tagging system that could take the place of printed barcodes

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A DNA-based molecular tagging system that could take the place of printed barcodes

University of Washington and Microsoft researchers have developed a DNA-based molecular tagging system. This GIF explains the process.

Many people have had the experience of being poked in the back by a plastic tag while trying on clothes in a store. That is just one example of radio frequency identification technology, which has become a mainstay not just in retail but also in manufacturing, logistics, transportation, health care and more. Other tagging systems include the scannable barcode and the QR code.

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Microsoft’s underwater server experiment resurfaces after two years

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Turns out, dunking data centers is a great idea

Back in 2018, Microsoft sunk an entire data center to the bottom of the Scottish sea, plunging 864 servers and 27.6 petabytes of storage 117 feet deep in the ocean. Today, the company has reported that its latest experiment was a success, revealing findings that show that the idea of an underwater data center is actually a pretty good one.

On the surface, throwing an entire data center to the bottom of the ocean may seem strange, but Microsoft’s Project Natick team hypothesized that placing would result in more reliable and energy-efficient data centers.

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AI researchers use heartbeat detection to identify deepfake videos

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Facebook and Twitter earlier this week took down social media accounts associated with the Internet Research Agency, the Russian troll farm that interfered in the U.S. presidential election four years ago, that had been spreading misinformation to up to 126 million Facebook users. Today, Facebook rolled out measures aimed at curbing disinformation ahead of Election Day in November. Deepfakes can make epic memes or put Nicholas Cage in every movie, but they can also undermine elections. As threats of election interference mount, two teams of AI researchers have recently introduced novel approaches to identifying deepfakes by watching for evidence of heartbeats.

Existing deepfake detection models focus on traditional media forensics methods, like tracking unnatural eyelid movements or distortions at the edge of the face. The first study for detection of unique GAN fingerprints was introduced in 2018. But photoplethysmography (PPG) translates visual cues such as how blood flow causes slight changes in skin color into a human heartbeat. Remote PPG applications are being explored in areas like health care, but PPG is also being used to identify deepfakes because generative models are not currently known to be able to mimic human blood movements.

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18 companies now hiring remote workers

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Big brands from a wide swath of industries are looking to fill long-term posts, according to Flexjobs.com.

Unemployment remains high as Americans emerge from the pandemic-driven lockdown, but 18 well-known companies that made the switch to telecommuting are currently hiring for long-term remote work, according to Flexjobs.com.

This is welcome news: Working remotely is not only safer from COVID-19, it’s very popular, especially among those who had the opportunity to work from home (WFH), after fears of the spread of COVID-19 shifted the way many Americans work.

Some companies that have made the complete shift to remote work are hiring now, and it means a job with a recognizable company name. And there’s a wide swath of industries, too, including big tech, credit card or affiliated companies, real estate, social media, sales, higher education, research and advisory, social and viewing management, software, family history research, and an online retailer, Flexjobs.com said.

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Microsoft sacks journalists to replace them with robots

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Users of the homepages of the MSN website and Edge browser will now see news stories generated by AI

Dozens of journalists have been sacked after Microsoft decided to replace them with artificial intelligence software.

Staff who maintain the news homepages on Microsoft’s MSN website and its Edge browser – used by millions of Britons every day – have been told that they will be no longer be required because robots can now do their jobs.

Around 27 individuals employed by PA Media – formerly the Press Association – were told on Thursday that they would lose their jobs in a month’s time after Microsoft decided to stop employing humans to select, edit and curate news articles on its homepages.

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Elon Musk’s AI project to replicate the human brain receives $1billion from Microsoft

 

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Elon Musk founded OpenAI in 2015 with the hope of creating AI capable of matching and surpassing the cognitive capabilities of humans ( AFP/Getty Images )

Microsoft has invested $1 billion in the Elon Musk-founded artificial intelligence venture that plans to mimic the human brain using computers.

OpenAI said the investment would go towards its efforts of building artificial general intelligence (AGI) that can rival and surpass the cognitive capabilities of humans.

“The creation of AGI will be the most important technological development in human history, with the potential to shape the trajectory of humanity,” said OpenAI CEO Sam Altman.

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Facebook is challenging researchers to build a deep fakes detector

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Why it makes sense to fight deepfakes with deepfakes.

Deepfakes are becoming so convincing that it’s hard to tell them from real videos. And that could soon spell disaster, eroding trust in what we see online.

That’s why Facebook is teaming up with a consortium of researchers from Microsoft and several prominent research universities for a “Deepfake Detection Challenge.”

The idea is to build a data set, with the help of human user input, that’ll help neural networks detect what is and isn’t a deepfake. The end result, if all goes well, will be a system that can reliably fake videos online.

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Microsoft’s tech can make your hologram speak another language

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This exec doesn’t speak Japanese — but it sure looks like she does.

You no longer need to speak another language to look like you’re fluent in it — to anyone, anywhere.

On Wednesday, Microsoft executive Julia White took the stage at the company’s Inspire partner conference to demonstrate how it’s now possible to not only create an incredibly life-like hologram of a person, but to then make the hologram speak another language in the person’s own voice.

This demo was possible thanks to a combination of two existing technologies — mixed reality and neural text-to-speech — and it foreshadows a future in which tech greatly diminishes existing barriers in human communication.

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Mary Meeker’s most important trends on the internet

Mary Meeker, Code 2019/Recode

It’s the holiday season for data nerds: That is, Mary Meeker is delivering her annual Internet Trends Report — the most highly anticipated slide deck in Silicon Valley — again at Code Conference 2019.

The general partner at venture capital firm Bond Capital delivered a rapid-fire 333-page slideshow that looked back at every important internet trend in the last year and looked forward about what these trends tell us to expect in the year ahead. The “Queen of the Internet” and former Kleiner Perkins Caufield & Byers partner touched on everything from accelerating internet ad spend in the US to the growth of digital delivery services in Latin America.

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Bill Gates made these 15 predictions back in 1999 — and it’s scary how accurate he was

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His forecasts turned out to be eerily prescient.

In 1999, Bill Gates wrote a book titled Business @ the Speed of Thought.

In the book, Gates made 15 bold predictions that at the time might have sounded outrageous.

But as Markus Kirjonen, a business student, once noted on his blog, Gates’ forecasts turned out to be eerily prescient.

Here are the 15 predictions Gates made just about 20 years ago — and how close they’ve come to being true.

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Microsoft’s CTO lays out the 2 tech trends he believes will change the world: ‘People haven’t wrapped their heads around this yet’

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Microsoft’s chief technology officer, Kevin Scott, sees two big things coming down the pipeline in the tech industry, he told Business Insider.

  • The first is an explosion of cheap, powerful silicon processors coming in the next five to eight years, leading to every device, everywhere, getting a microprocessor capable of running advanced artificial intelligence.
  • The second, related trend Scott sees is the increased importance of reinforcement learning, the style of machine learning that helps power Google DeepMind’s famous game-playing software bots.
  • Combined, the explosions of software and hardware will give developers everywhere the tools they need to easily solve computing problems once thought impossible in a way that’s cheap and efficient enough for every car, toy, and appliance manufacturer to take advantage.
  • A big part of Microsoft’s role in this is making it easier for developers to take advantage of these trends in their own software, Scott said Continue reading… “Microsoft’s CTO lays out the 2 tech trends he believes will change the world: ‘People haven’t wrapped their heads around this yet’”
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