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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
Hackers bleeding large Indian firms by $10 mn on average each year: Microsoft. (Wikimedia commons)

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.

Microsoft
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.

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“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.

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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

“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)

Next Story

With Ovarian Cancer Deaths Set to Spike by 67%, AI to Rescue: Study

However, the scans cannot give clinicians detailed insight into patients’ likely overall outcomes or on the likely effect of a therapeutic intervention

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Cancer
Cancer Ribbon. Pixabay

With the incidence of ovarian cancer likely to increase by 55 per cent in another 15 years or so, researchers have created an artificial intelligence (AI) software to help best treat ovarian cancer that will pave the way for personalised medicine and expedite relief, a new study says.

The mathematical software tool — TEXLab — can also predict what treatment might be most effective for patients with the World Ovarian Cancer Coalition predicting that deaths will likely increase by 67 per cent by 2035 due to this particular cancer.

The technology can be used to identify patients who are unlikely to respond to standard treatments and offer alternatives as ovarian cancer is the sixth most common cancer in women in the UK that usually strikes after menopause or those with a family history of the disease.

Early detection of the disease could improve survival rates, the study noted.

“Long-term survival rate for patients with advanced ovarian cancer is poor despite advancements in treatments. There is an urgent need for new ways,” said lead author Eric Aboagye, Professor at Imperial College London.

For the study, researchers used the software to identify the aggressiveness of tumours in CT scans and tissue samples from 364 women with ovarian cancer.

The patients were then given a score known as Radiomic Prognostic Vector (RPV) which indicates how severe the disease is, ranging from mild to severe.

Cancer patient
Cancer patient.

The findings, published in Nature Communications, showed that the software was up to four times more accurate for predicting deaths from ovarian cancer than standard methods.

In addition, five per cent of patients with high RPV scores had a survival rate of less than two years, results showed.

High RPV was also associated with chemotherapy resistance and poor surgical outcomes, suggesting that RPV can be used as a potential bio-marker to predict how patients would respond to treatments.

“Our technology is able to give clinicians more detailed and accurate information on how the patients are likely to respond to different treatments, which could enable them to make better and more targeted treatment decisions,” said Aboagye.

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Doctors as of now diagnose ovarian cancer in a number of ways, including a blood test followed by a CT scan that uses X-rays and a computer to create detailed pictures of the ovarian tumour.

This helps clinicians know how far the disease has spread and determines the type of treatment patients receive, such as surgery and chemotherapy.

However, the scans cannot give clinicians detailed insight into patients’ likely overall outcomes or on the likely effect of a therapeutic intervention. (IANS)