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Microsoft Chief Feels That Stopping Facial Recognition For Good Work is Cruel

The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019

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Microsoft President Brad Smith has shot down calls to stop selling facial recognition software to government agencies, saying the move would be “cruel” as it could hamper good work such as diagnosing rare diseases.

According to a report in the Business Insider on Sunday, Smith said the move would be “cruel in the humanitarian effect”.

This came after last month over 85 human rights groups wrote to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, demanding the companies should stop selling facial recognition software to the governments as it would lead to surveillance.

“I do not understand an argument that companies should avoid all licensing to any government agency for any purpose whatsoever.

“A sweeping ban on all government use clearly goes too far and risks being cruel in its humanitarian effect,” Smith, also Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer, was quoted as saying.

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Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

In a blog post in December, Smith had said that given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” Smith wrote.

“The time for action has arrived,” he said, adding that the industry must also exercise restraint while using this technology.

Speaking of the benefits of the technology, the Microsoft President mentioned that police in New Delhi recently trialed facial recognition technology and identified almost 3,000 missing children in four days.

Similarly, historians in the US have used the technology to identify the portraits of unknown soldiers in Civil War photographs taken in the 1860s.

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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. VOA

“Researchers successfully used facial recognition software to diagnose a rare, genetic disease in Africans, Asians and Latin Americans,” he added.

However, he did warn that widespread use of this technology can lead to new intrusions into people’s privacy.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” Smith added.

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Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology.

The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019. (IANS)

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Microsoft Lays Off News Production Workers; Replace Them With AI

A report suggests that Microsoft has cut off its editorial staff and replaced them with AI

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Microsoft
Microsoft cuts off staff and replaces them with artificial intelligence. Pxabay

Microsoft is reportedly laying off at least 50 news production workers and replacing them with artificial intelligence (AI)-based algorithms to perform their editorial duties.

According to a report in the Seattle Times on Saturday, the roughly 50 employees contracted through staffing agencies Aquent, IFG and MAQ Consulting have been notified “that their services would no longer be needed beyond June 30”.

These news production contractors work with Microsoft News, the company’s news content arm that operates MSN.com and other properties.

A Microsoft spokesperson said in a statement that like all companies, they evaluate business on a regular basis.

“This can result in increased investment in some places and, from time to time, redeployment in others. These decisions are not the result of the current pandemic,” said the Microsoft spokesperson.

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All the work, duty and tasks of the workers will be performed by AI. Pixabay

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Some employees told Seattle Times that “MSN will use AI to replace the production work they’d been doing”.

The work includes using algorithms to identify trending news stories from dozens of publishing partners, rewrite headlines or adding better photographs or slide shows.

Besides the production work, the contract employees also planned content, maintained the editorial calendars of partner news websites and assigned content to them. (IANS)

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Windows 10: May 2020 Update Features Linux 2, latest Cortana updates

The May 2020 Update of Windows 10 contains feature improvements

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Windows 10
Windows 10 May 2020 update is now live with built-in Linux and Cortana. Pixabay

The Windows 10 May 2020 Update has started to reach customers globally with features like Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 as well as latest Cortana updates.

The biggest under-the-hood change to the May 2020 Update is the inclusion of the Windows Subsystem for Linux 2 (WSL 2), with a custom-built Linux kernel.

The Linux integration in Windows 10 will greatly improve the performance of Microsoft’s Linux subsystem in Windows.

“As the world and people’s routines change, it is important that we focus on meeting the over a billion people around the world relying on Windows where they are now,” the company said in a statement on Wednesday.

“The May 2020 Update comes with feature improvements that will help save you time and maybe even be a source of fun,” it added.

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The Cortana assistant has been updated with a new chat-based interface where one can either speak or type your requests. Pixabay

The Cortana assistant has been updated with a new chat-based interface where one can either speak or type your requests. The new and updated interface can be accessed from the Windows 10 taskbar.

Also Read: Facebook Takes on TikTok; Launches Experimental App Collab

The update brings the popular Your Phone app’s Calls feature to ARM supported PCs from Microsoft and our OEM partners.

One will now place, receive, or text reply to incoming phone calls directly on PC without having Android phone right next to PC.

“With the Your Phone app, one can stay in flow by sending or receiving texts, checking notifications and getting instant access to Android phone’s photos and apps via computer’s large screen and keyboard,” said Microsoft. (IANS)

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Special Olympics Partners Microsoft, Xbox to Organise Online Gaming Tournament

The tournament is scheduled to be held on May 30

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Special Olympics has partnered Microsoft and Xbox to organise a gaming tournament on May 30. Pixabay

Special Olympics has partnered Microsoft and Xbox to organise a gaming tournament on May 30 and fans can watch livestreamed Forza Motorsport 7 racing on Mixer, Xbox YouTube or Twitch.

There will be a first-ever Special Olympics award ceremony on gaming platform Minecraft.

“We’re partnering with the Special Olympics to keep athletes connected and maintain the joy of sports, using the power of Xbox,” Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella tweeted.

Special Olympics is the world’s largest sports organisation for children and adults with intellectual disabilities and physical disabilities, providing year-round training and activities to 5 million participants and Unified Sports partners in 172 countries.

Phil Spencer, Head of Xbox, said it is a great partnership with the amazing team at Special Olympics to bring gaming to the 2020 Special Olympics.

“Incredibly proud of all the teams that are making this possible and can’t wait to see the Olympians running some fast laps,” he said.

Back in 2018, Xbox hosted the first video gaming tournament at a Special Olympics event during Special Olympics USA Games held in Seattle, Washington.

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Xbox hosted the first video gaming tournament at a Special Olympics event in 2018. Pixabay

“This year, Microsoft and Special Olympics are teaming up for the 2020 Special Olympics Xbox Virtual Gaming Event featuring Turn 10 Studios’ Forza Motorsport 7,” said the company.

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Eleven US states will be represented in this year’s event with over 35 athletes participating.

Microsoft and Special Olympics have been working together since 2014 with the goal of empowering Special Olympics athletes and programmes through technology.

Throughout the partnership, technologies such as Xbox and Microsoft Teams have been tools to bring adults and children with intellectual disabilities together in the face of a host of obstacles. (IANS)