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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 Launches Smart Phonetic Keyboards for 10 Indian Languages

The updated keyboards have automatically been made available with the recent Windows 10 update

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Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it's office. Pixabay

In a bid to further allow users personalise their Windows 10 experience, software giant Microsoft on Monday launched smart phonetic keyboards for 10 Indian languages as part of its May 2019 update.

The updated phonetic keyboards have been made available in languages including Hindi, Bangla, Tamil and Marathi amongst others, the company said in a statement.

The keyboards would allow users to work in their preferred languages without having to purchase customised Indic hardware keyboards or stickers.

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FILE – A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration, Feb. 28, 2013. VOA

The technology would let users input transliterated text using the existing keyboards and then convert text from one script to another, depending on the target language.

The new tools would not only help in making computing inclusive, but they are also expected to improve typing speed and accuracy in Indian languages by at least 20 per cent along with making it easier to make regional symbols like the Indian numerals easier to input, the company said.

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With this, the software giant moves forward in its aim to integrate virtual keyboards as part of its Windows operating system.

The updated keyboards have automatically been made available with the recent Windows 10 update. (IANS)