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Microsoft Says Building Tool to Spot Bias in AI Algorithms

The issue of bias will become crucial as more customers make use of these algorithms to take important decisions

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Microsoft's beta Android launcher has digital health feature. Pixabay
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After Facebook announced its own tool to detect bias in an algorithm earlier this month, a new report suggests that Microsoft is also building a tool to automate the identification of bias in a range of different Artificial Intelligence (AI) algorithms.

The Microsoft tool has the potential to help businesses make use of AI without inadvertently discriminating against certain groups of people, MIT Technology Review reported on Friday.

Representational image (AI)
Representational image (AI). Pixabay

Although Microsoft’s new tool may not eliminate the problem of bias that may creep into Machine-Learning models altogether, it will help AI researchers catch more instances of unfairness, Rich Caruna, a senior researcher at Microsoft who is working on the bias-detection dashboard, was quoted as saying.

“Of course, we can’t expect perfection — there’s always going to be some bias undetected or that can’t be eliminated — the goal is to do as well as we can,” he said.

Also Read: Microsoft Also Has an AI Bot That Makes Phone Calls to Humans

The issue of bias will become crucial as more customers make use of these algorithms to take important decisions.

At its annual developer conference on May 2, Facebook announced its own bias-catching tool, called Fairness Flow, as the social network has found that the number of people using AI to make important decisions is increasing at the company. (IANS)

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Bug Spotted in Microsoft Office 365, Outlook

Several tech companies offer bug bounty incentives. Sahad also received bug bounty from Facebook last year for discovering a bug in the social networking platform

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Kerala-based security engineer spots bug in Microsoft Office 365, Outlook. Pixabay

A Kerala-based application security engineer has won bug bounty from Microsoft for discovering a series of vulnerabilities that left over 400 million Microsoft users’ accounts — from Office 365 to Outlook emails — open to hacking.

Sahad NK, who works as a security researcher with cybersecurity portal Safetydetective.com, came across multiple vulnerabilities that, when chained together, allow an attacker to take over any Microsoft Outlook, Microsoft Store, or Microsoft Sway account simply via the victim clicking on a link.

“Immediately after finding these vulnerabilities, we contacted Microsoft via their responsible disclosure programme and started working with them,” said Safetydetective on Tuesday.

The vulnerabilities were reported to Microsoft in June and fixed by November end.

“While the vulnerability proof of concept was only made for Microsoft Outlook and Microsoft Sway, we expect it to affect all Microsoft accounts including Microsoft Store,” said Sahad.

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

Sahad discovered that a Microsoft subdomain, “success.office.com”, had not been properly configured. He also found bug in Microsoft Office, Store and Sway products.

A string of bugs when chained together created the perfect attack to gain access to someone’s Microsoft account — simply by tricking a user into clicking a link.

“Anyone’s Office account, even enterprise and corporate accounts, including their email, documents and other files, could have been easily accessed by a malicious attacker, and it would have been near-impossible to discern from a legitimate user,” said TechCrunch.

Also Read- New Bug Forces Alphabet to Expedite Google+ API Shutdown

Sahad, with the help of fellow security researcher Paulos Yibelo, reported the bug to Microsoft, which fixed the vulnerability and gave an unspecified amount as bug bounty to Sahad.

Several tech companies offer bug bounty incentives. Sahad also received bug bounty from Facebook last year for discovering a bug in the social networking platform. (IANS)