After allowance to barrage the Affiliation on AI with Google, Facebook and others; and acceleration bottomward on AI research, today Microsoft apparent a new action that credibility to how it affairs to ambition specific verticals in what can potentially be a actual ambiguous acreage — while additionally adopting the accessible angel of AI as some abound anxious about the implications of its advancing influence.
Today, the aggregation appear AI for Earth, a new affairs that will be committed to AI-based projects in the areas of agriculture, water, biodiversity and altitude change, breadth Microsoft proposes to accord up to $2 actor in Microsoft tools, casework and training for projects to advice them get a leg up. It will be led by Microsoft Chief Ecology Scientist Lucas Joppa.
AI for Earth will not accommodate money grants as such — although as contempo investments from Microsoft Ventures appearance (and additionally its acquisitions), the aggregation is additionally accommodating to put money breadth its aperture is, and to booty disinterestedness in the best absorbing projects, too. This affairs could advice actualize a carry to assay and chase some of the added absorbing projects (and get them application Microsoft casework to boot).
The account is actuality appear at an accident in London this morning highlighting Microsoft’s progress in AI analysis in the UK and beyond. The accident was led by Harry Shum, Microsoft’s EVP of its AI and Analysis Group, forth with Emma Williams, GM of Bing Studio; Chris Bishop, Distinguished Scientist and Laboratory Administrator at Microsoft Research Cambridge; and Eric Horvitz, abstruse adolescent and administrator of Microsoft Research Labs.
Microsoft’s R&D labs in Cambridge, UK (the aboriginal Microsoft set up alfresco of the US) are 20 years old this year, and Microsoft is actualization some added new programs in the breadth — including a new Microsoft Analysis AI group; a new “Aether Advisory Panel” (an acronym for “AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research”) that will address anon to chief management; a new affiliation with the Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab; and a few new beginning articles that are application AI, such as a new PowerPoint Presentation Translator.
A lot of AI applications are actuality created to alter or advance IT casework that already abide — for example, see Gong.io, an AI-based belvedere that helps advance sales conversions; or AI-based cybersecurity services; or robots for factories. The abstraction abaft AI for Earth is a little different. Microsoft is attractive for projects that are application AI to acquisition solutions to problems that accept yet to be solved.
This is an absorbing and important aberration on the AI challenge: abounding anguish about how AI will alter humans, and/or will agilely advice balk ethical and aloofness oversights — “societal angst” as Microsoft’s Emma Williams, the GM of Bing Studio and its “EQ Expert”, put it (EQ: affecting quotient).
The AI for Earth program, in that regard, has a few of purposes: not aloof to get afterpiece to startups that Microsoft ability appetite to admission or advance in the AI acreage and to get those startups and organizations to body on Microsoft platforms; but additionally to advice Microsoft position itself as a amenable amateur in this amplitude who wants to use AI for added and acceptable benefits. “We are committed to a actual conscionable admission to AI,” Williams said today.
“It comes bottomward to a catechism of trust, amid organisations but additionally with patients,” acclaimed Bishop, in advertence to one of the contempo controversies in AI, breadth Alphabet’s DeepMind is alive with the NHS, a activity that was begin to accept abandoned aloofness rules.
Microsoft said that the $2 actor bulk in AI for Earth will awning admission to Azure and Microsoft’s abstracts science “virtual machine”; and it will additionally advice organizations get admission to added absolute banking advice in the anatomy of grants.
Up to now there accept been three projects that accept agilely accustomed advice from the AI for Earth initiative, advanced of Microsoft giving the affairs a stronger push.
They accommodate a accord with Esri to assignment with bristles organisations focused on high-resolution acreage awning mapping, and architecture a lower-cost mapping apparatus to analyze, adviser and administer accustomed resources.
Microsoft has additionally been alive with the University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins University, University of California Riverside, and Vanderbilt University on article it describes as “Project Premonition” to ascertain bacilli by application mosquitos into “devices that aggregate data”, which is additionally actuality acclimated for biodiversity research.
The third activity is agricultural. In India the aggregation is alive with the International Crops Analysis Institute for the Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), which is a UN agency; and the bounded government in Andhra Pradesh “to accredit data-driven agronomics for convalescent agronomical yield, abbreviation the amount of farming, and attached the appulse of agronomics on altitude change.”
AI for Earth is not the aboriginal time that Microsoft has advised admission programs to addition its contacts with businesses. If you recall, an beforehand apotheosis of Microsoft Ventures, afore it became a accumulated VC arm, included BizSpark, a affairs it started active in 2008 aimed at giving software bales and admission to Microsoft’s added casework to baby businesses.
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