Employing data science, new research uncovers clues behind unexplainable infant death | Microsoft on the Issues

Employing data science, new research uncovers clues behind unexplainable infant death | Microsoft on the Issues

Imagine losing your child in their first year of life and having no idea what caused it. This is the heartbreaking reality for thousands of families each year who lose a child to Sudden Unexpected Infant Death (SUID). Despite decades-long efforts to prevent SUID, it remains the leading cause of death for children between one month and one year of age in developed nations. In the U.S. alone, 3,600 children die unexpectedly of SUID each year.

For years, researchers hypothesized that infants who died due to SUID in the earliest stages of the life differed from those dying of SUID later. Now, for the first time, we know, thanks to the single largest study ever undertaken on the subject, this is statistically the case.

Working in collaboration with world-class researchers at Seattle Children’s Research Institute and the University of Auckland, we analyzed the Center for Disease Control (CDC) data on every child born in the U.S. over a decade, including over 41 million births and 37,000 SUID deaths. We compared all possible groups by the age at the time of death to understand if these populations were different.

We hope our progress in piecing together the SUID puzzle ultimately saves lives, and gives parents and researchers hope for the future.

 

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Solving the challenge of securing AI and machine learning systems | Microsoft on the Issues

Solving the challenge of securing AI and machine learning systems | Microsoft on the Issues

Today, in collaboration with Harvard University’s Berkman Klein Center, we at Microsoft are publishing a series of materials we believe will contribute to solving a major challenge to securing artificial intelligence and machine learning systems. In short, there is no common terminology today to discuss security threats to these systems and methods to mitigate them, and we hope these new materials will provide baseline language that will enable the research community to better collaborate.

Here is why this challenge is so important to address. Artificial intelligence (AI) is already having an enormous and positive impact on healthcare, the environment, and a host of other societal needs. As these systems become increasingly important to our lives, it’s critical that when they fail that we understand how and why, whether it’s inherent design of a system or the result of an adversary. There have been hundreds of research papers dedicated to this topic, but inconsistent vocabulary from paper to paper has limited the usefulness of important research to data scientists, security engineers, incident responders and policymakers.

The centerpiece of the materials we’re publishing today is called “Failure Modes in Machine Learning,” which lays out the terminology we developed jointly with the Berkman Klein Center. It includes vocabulary that can be used to describe intentional failure caused by an adversary attempting to alter results or steal an algorithm as well as vocabulary for unintentional failures like a system that produces results that might be unsafe

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World Childhood Foundation marks 20 years with focus on AI and child safety online | Microsoft on the Issues

World Childhood Foundation marks 20 years with focus on AI and child safety online | Microsoft on the Issues

World Childhood Foundation, launched in 1999 by Queen Silvia of Sweden, recently marked 20 years of child protection with a roundtable on leveraging artificial intelligence (AI) to assist in tackling child sexual exploitation and abuse online.

The day-long event, held last month at the Royal Palace in Stockholm, brought together 60 AI experts, representatives from technology companies, child safety advocates, academics and others to explore new ways to combat the proliferation of child sexual exploitation and abuse imagery (CSEAI) online.

“How can we use AI as a catalyst for child safety online,” asked King Carl XVI Gustaf, who, along with Queen Silvia and other members of Sweden’s royal family, presided over the day’s discussions. “New approaches are needed, so we are bringing together some of the sharpest minds in AI and child protection to share knowledge and experiences.”

The event consisted of a series of presentations, panels and small-group discussions about raising awareness among the broader global population about the “epidemic” that is child sexual exploitation and abuse, as well as the misuse of technology to share illegal imagery and enable on-demand abuse of children tens of thousands of miles away. Experts shared experiences, ideas and data, including that reports of child sexual abuse videos to the U.S. National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) had risen 541% in 2018 compared to the prior year. Moreover, children of all ages and backgrounds are susceptible to sexual exploitation with more than 56% of the children in Interpol’s database identified as prepubescent. “Nothing surprises us anymore,” said one law enforcement official

Learn more

To learn more about the World Childhood Foundation, visit the organization’s website. To learn what Microsoft is doing to tackle child sexual exploitation and abuse online, see this link, and to learn more about digital safety generally, go to www.microsoft.com/saferonline, like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

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Preserving cultural heritage one language at a time | Microsoft on the Issues

Preserving cultural heritage one language at a time | Microsoft on the Issues

There are close to 7,000 languages spoken around the world today. Yet, sadly, every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker, and it is predicted that between 50% and 90% of endangered languages will disappear by next century. When a community loses a language, it loses its connection to the past – and part of its present. It loses a piece of its identity. As we think about protecting this heritage and the importance of preserving language, we believe that new technology can help.

More than many nations, the people of New Zealand are acutely aware of this phenomenon. Centuries ago, the Māori people arrived on the islands to settle in and create a new civilization. Through the centuries and in the isolation of the South Pacific, the Māori developed their own unique culture and language. Today, in New Zealand, 15% of the population is Māori yet only a quarter of the Māori people speak their native language, and only 3% of all people living in New Zealand speak te reo Maori. Statistically, fluency in the language is extremely low….

Globally, as part of our AI for Cultural Heritage program, Microsoft has committed $10 million over five years to support projects dedicated to the preservation and enrichment of cultural heritage that leverage the power of artificial intelligence. The ultimate role of technology is to serve humankind, not to replace it. We can harness the latest tools in ways that support an environment rich in diversity, perspectives and learnings from the past. And when we enable that knowledge and experience to be shared with the rest of the world, every society benefits.

For more information on Microsoft Translator please visit: https://www.microsoft.com/en-us/translator/languages/

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Microsoft went all in on accessible design. This is what happened afterwards | Fast Company

Logitech photo as part of a Fast Company article.

The Xbox Adaptive Controller is one of the most telling products in how design as we know it is changing. It’s a boxy controller with two giant buttons and over a dozen ports for external peripherals, to allow people with disabilities the option to play Xbox in any manner they can…

But the Xbox Adaptive Controller was just the first step into more inclusive video games and voting machines. And we’re seeing that proven in a new, companion product developed by the mouse and keyboard giant Logitech. Called the Adaptive Gaming Kit, it’s a collection of mix-and-matchable buttons that plug into the Xbox Adaptive Controller for additional customization…

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Open government data – more critical than ever. | Microsoft on the Issues

Open government data – more critical than ever. | Microsoft on the Issues

What strikes me as interesting that there was no mention of former CEO Steve Ballmer’s USAFacts website, that is one of his first post-MS initiatives.

Today, in Washington, D.C., Microsoft was pleased to participate in an event hosted by  the Business Software Alliance, focused on Data Innovation Policy:  Enabling Access and Promoting Use. We were honored to have U.S. Rep. Derek Kilmer (D-WA) provide introductory remarks. Rep. Kilmer is a strong advocate for open data, having served as sponsor of the OPEN Government Data Act, which was signed into law in January 2019. As Rep. Kilmer noted, Congress and the administration have recognized that the availability of useful government data is essential for the U.S. to lead a digital economy powered by AI and data analytics. The OPEN Government Data Act’s mandate – to encourage every federal agency to publish information as open data – is fundamental to achieving this goal. This mandate is ambitious and presents a range of policy, structural and technical challenges. Multiple agencies need to develop and implement effective approaches to identify, maintain and publish relevant data inventories, in a standardized, machine-readable format. Important progress has been made toward these ambitions.

And yet, there is more that can be done to achieve this vision. One idea I mentioned at the event is the idea of creating a Federal Chief Data Officer role to help spearhead the goals of the OPEN Government Data Act. The creation of such a role would help agencies coordinate and prioritize the work to unlock high value government data.

At the event today, we heard about many compelling examples where open government data has been used to advance research in important areas. For example, our speaker from the Fred Hutchinson Cancer Research Center spoke about how government data was being used by a scientist to help look at new ways to identify and treat endometriosis. We also heard from Rep. Kilmer about how environmental data was being used to help forecast weather and transportation trends.

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A conversation with the researcher who put a movie on a piece of glass with Project Silica | onMSFT.com

A conversation with the researcher who put a movie on a piece of glass with Project Silica | onMSFT.com

At Microsoft Ignite, I, Abhishek Baxi, sat down with Ant Rowstron, partner deputy lab director of Microsoft Research Cambridge, to learn more about Project Silica.

Why did you choose glass?

So, I think there are several reasons. First off, it’s a durable media, and it’s got a very long lifetime. So, the data that we’ve got written in here won’t get any decay, and it will be good for, you know, tens of thousands, even hundreds of thousands of years.

You got your archive data, which is just cold. Today we’re using hard disk drives or tape to store that. With hard disk drive, you’re lucky to get five years from it. Not much longer. A tape, you’re going to get ten years. I think ten is the upper bound; some people use it for five years or even less…

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