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Microsoft Introduces $40 mn Programme For Recovering Humanitarian Crisis

The company said it would collaborate with NGOs and humanitarian organisations to accelerate breakthrough solutions to help monitor, detect and prevent human rights abuses

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Microsoft not ready to recover files deleted by Windows 10 update: Report. (Wikimedia commons)
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Microsoft on Monday launched a new $40-million programme aimed at harnessing the power of Artificial Intelligence (AI) for disaster recovery, helping children, protecting refugees and displaced people and promoting respect for human rights.

The tech giant said it would execute the five-year programme by working deeply with select non-governmental and humanitarian organisations through grants, investment of technology and shared expertise.

Unveiled at the annual “Microsoft Ignite 2018” conference here, the programme called “AI for Humanitarian Action” is part of Microsoft’s “AI for Good initiative” that was launched in July last year.

“Today, in conjunction with the United Nations General Assembly meeting, we are announcing AI for Humanitarian Action, a new $40-million dollar five-year Microsoft programme,” said Microsoft President Brad Smith.

“We believe that technology, like AI combined with Cloud technology, can be a game changer, helping save more lives, alleviate suffering and restore human dignity by changing the way frontline relief organisations anticipate, predict, and better target response efforts,” Smith added in a blog post.

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

At the conference, Microsoft also released an array of security programmes and products.

Among them are “Microsoft Secure Score” — a dynamic report card that assesses Microsoft 365 customer environments and makes recommendations that can reduce breaches up to 30-fold — and “Microsoft Authenticator”, which helps make secure sign-on easier for workers with features like password-free login.

“In this era of the intelligent Cloud and intelligent edge, businesses in every industry are looking for a trusted partner to help them transform,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella said in his keynote address.

Also Read- Paytm is Testing ‘Face Login’ Feature, To Increase Security

“We are pushing the bounds in AI, edge computing and IoT (Internet of Things), while providing end-to-end security to empower every organisation to build its own digital capability and thrive in this new era,” Nadella added.

Microsoft said its “AI for Humanitarian Action” programme will accelerate the pace of innovation by managing strategic AI projects that demonstrate new applications, delivering reusable solutions and partnering with others to expand and scale initial projects.

AI can address humanitarian causes in myriad ways. For example, AI technologies like machine vision can quickly analyse images of roads damaged or destroyed by an event, making way for a faster and safer response, Smith explained.

microsoft
A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. Microsoft says it’s requiring its U.S. suppliers to offer their employees at least 12 weeks paid leave to care for a new child. The company announced the new parental leave policy Thursday. VOA

“In a new partnership with the World Bank, United Nations, and partners from the tech industry, relief organisations will be better able to predict when and where future famines will occur so aid can arrive earlier, potentially saving more lives,” the Microsoft President noted.

AI and Machine Learning (ML) also have the potential to improve the lives of approximately 68 million displaced people in the world, 28 million of whom are refugees.

“AI can help optimise the delivery of aid, supplies, and services to refugees and can scale NGOs’ efforts to communicate and understand displaced peoples’ needs,” Smith explained.

The company said it would collaborate with NGOs and humanitarian organisations to accelerate breakthrough solutions to help monitor, detect and prevent human rights abuses.

“We are hopeful the world will see what a compelling force for good AI can be when it’s used well in partnership with innovative NGOs. By ensuring technology fulfils its promise to address the broadest societal needs, we can empower everyone to achieve more,” Smith noted. (IANS)

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Microsoft And NASA Come Together to Make A New Spacecraft

Microsoft said that NASA was using the HoloLens to find the best places on Mars to build bases.

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. Microsoft says it’s requiring its U.S. suppliers to offer their employees at least 12 weeks paid leave to care for a new child. The company announced the new parental leave policy Thursday. VOA

Engineers at American aerospace company Lockheed Martin are using Microsoft mixed reality smartglass HoloLens to build NASA’s Orion spacecraft designed to transport humans to destinations such as the Moon and eventually Mars, and return them safely back to Earth, the MIT Technology Review reported.

Lockheed Martin is the prime contractor building NASA’s Orion spaceship.

The technicians at the firm use the HoloLens to learn a task or check the directions in 15-minute increments rather than for a constant feed of instructions.

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A sign for Microsoft is seen on a building in Cambridge. VOA

For the team constructing the heat shield skeleton of Orion, the new technology takes the place of a 1,500-page binder full of written work instructions, thereby helping them to perform tasks faster, said the report on Tuesday.

NASA’s partnership with Microsoft on HoloLens is not new.

In 2015, the US space agency announced that it was teaming up with the software giant to develop Sidekick, a new project using commercial technology to empower astronauts aboard the International Space Station (ISS).

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NASA charts roadmap for human missions to Moon, Mars. Pixabay

Sidekick uses Microsoft HoloLens to provide virtual aid to astronauts working off the Earth, for the Earth. A pair of the devices was launched to the ISS on December 6, 2015.

Also Read: IAU Names Two Lunar Craters to Honour NASA’s Apollo 8

In 2017, Microsoft said that NASA was using the HoloLens to find the best places on Mars to build bases that would one day house astronauts exploring the planet.

Rather than putting users in a fully computer-generated world, as virtual reality does, HoloLens allows users to place 3D digital models in the room alongside them. (IANS)