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Microsoft Introduces First-ever Surface Headphones

The Surface Laptop 2 offers a premium design, PixelSense Touch Display, and best-in-class keyboard and trackpad, without sacrificing the 14.5 hours of battery life

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Microsoft's new Surface products include 1st-ever headphones. Wikimedia Commons

Refreshing its Surface laptop line-up, Microsoft has announced four new products — Surface Pro 6, Surface Studio 2, Surface Laptop 2 and first-ever Surface Headphones — along with new innovations in Windows and Office 365.

At an event in New York on Tuesday, Microsoft also announced that the Windows 10 October 2018 update has arrived for its users.

Surface Pro 6 would start from $899 and Surface Laptop 2 would begin from $999. The devices — available for pre-order — would be available in the US from October 16.
Surface Headphones at $349 would be available later in 2018 while Surface Studio 2 would be available, starting at $3,499.

Surface Headphones has 13 levels of ambient noise control. There are two beam-forming microphones on each ear cup — eight microphones in total — helping the user focus on the sounds he or she wants to capture.

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

“You can easily adjust volume and noise cancellation levels with new, intuitive on-ear dials. While Surface Headphones are optimised for Surface devices, they will pair with any Bluetooth-enabled device,” Microsoft said in a statement.

Surface Pro 6 is equipped with latest eighth generation Intel Quad Core processor.

The device is 67 per cent faster than the fifth generation Surface Pro and has been redesigned to pack in more power but still keeps the portability, versatility and all-day battery.

“The Surface Pro 6 features the ‘PixelSense Touch Display’ which helps create the best work with Office 365 on Windows and features like intelligent inking,” said the company.

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Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

Surface Studio 2 is built for creators who need vibrancy, high-graphics performance and fast processing, delivering next-generation Pascal graphics and 50 per cent faster GPU.

The new Surface Studio is 38 per cent brighter, with 22 per cent more contrast.

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Surface Laptop 2 is 85 per cent faster than the original Surface Laptop and is powered by the new Quad Core eighth generation Intel processor.

The Surface Laptop 2 offers a premium design, PixelSense Touch Display, and best-in-class keyboard and trackpad, without sacrificing the 14.5 hours of battery life. (IANS)

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Microsoft Rejects Request to Install Facial Recognition Technology in Officers’ Cars and Body Cameras

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found

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FILE - Brad Smith of Microsoft takes part in a panel discussion "Cyber, big data and new technologies. Current Internet Governance Challenges: What's Next?" at the United Nations in Geneva, Nov. 9, 2017. VOA

Microsoft recently rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras because of human rights concerns, company President Brad Smith said Tuesday.

Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures.

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found.

“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. After thinking through the uneven impact, “we said this technology is not your answer.”

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Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures. Pixabay

Prison contract accepted

Speaking at a Stanford University conference on “human-centered artificial intelligence,” Smith said Microsoft had also declined a deal to install facial recognition on cameras blanketing the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have suppressed freedom of assembly there.

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

Smith explained the decisions as part of a commitment to human rights that he said was increasingly critical as rapid technological advances empower governments to conduct blanket surveillance, deploy autonomous weapons and take other steps that might prove impossible to reverse.

‘Race to the bottom’

Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police.

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“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. Pixabay

Smith has called for greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence, and he warned Tuesday that without that, companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”

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He shared the stage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact.

“Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile. Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to name the prospective customers the company turned down. (VOA)