Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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quantum computer closeup

Quantum Physicist Julie Love to Speak at COSM 2021

She fell in love with physics in high school, and continues to pursue that love today at Microsoft

She may not be a household name, but Dr. Julie Love works with technology that could have massive implications on our economy, in our industry and agriculture, and on society at large: Quantum computing. At this year’s COSM conference in Bellevue, Washington, Love will be addressing quantum computing and the question, “Does it change everything, or anything?” First, what exactly is quantum computing? “Quantum computing applies the properties of quantum physics to the processing of information,” Love explains in a Youtube series produced by Microsoft exploring the impact of the technology. “This exponentially faster and more powerful computing will accelerate the development of new sustainable materials, improved healthcare, methods to address food production, and combat climate change.” You can watch…

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Downton Bellevue, Washington with Mt. Rainier

Meet Gurdeep Pall, Microsoft Executive and COSM 2021 Speaker

Pall has flourished as a developer and a leader in the world of artificial intelligence and speech recognition

“I believe the world is ready for autonomous systems,” says Gurdeep Singh Pall, a Corporate Vice President at Microsoft. Pall will be joining the impressive lineup of speakers at COSM 2021 this November. Pall has been with Microsoft since 1990 – a long and fruitful thirty-one years in which he rose from a software design engineer to the Corporate VP for the Information Platform and Experience team. In that time, he has worked on several noteworthy projects, including Windows NT 3.1, Windows XP, Skype for Business (now Teams), and many others. Pall was born in Chandigarh, India. In later adolescence, he considered following in his Brigadier father’s footsteps by joining the Indian army. “There was something inside me that kept…

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Voice recognition, Machine Learning.

You Can Now Hear Our Articles When You Are Driving or Sweeping Up

Curious about that "loudspeaker" icon that has recently appeared in our articles?

You may have recently noticed a new icon that’s appeared on your screen at the beginning of our articles. If you press the little black button with the loudspeaker icon, you will find our article being read aloud for you. This exciting new application – which will make it easier for our readers to enjoy our content even while driving, doing chores, or running errands – is made possible by WebsiteVoice advances in artificial intelligence technology.  WebsiteVoice is a text-to-speech application that converts blog posts and online articles into audible material. It serves over 4,000 clients worldwide in 30 different languages. Founded by Mohamad Awad and Roz Burch, the WebsiteVoice team calls itself “a group of avid readers and podcast…

Chinese hacker. Laptop with binary computer code and china flag on the screen. Internet and network security.

U.S. and Allies Formally Accuse China of Exchange Server Hack

This isn’t the first time the Chinese-backed hacker group has infiltrated organizations

On Monday, July 19, three cybersecurity announcements were made: In response to the massive Microsoft Exchange Server hack, the U.S., U.K., Canada, Australia, New Zealand, Norway, Japan, the E.U., and NATO formally accused the Chinese government of engaging in harmful cyberactivity. The U.S. Department of Justice published its indictment of four Chinese hackers associated with the Chinese government, known as APT40. The FBI, CSIS, and the NSA published a cybersecurity advisory cataloging the fifty tactics, techniques, and procedures used by Chinese state-sponsored hackers. Then, on Tuesday, the CSIA and the FBI published a report on state-sponsored international hacking groups that included accusations that the Chinese state-backed hackers infiltrated thirteen oil and natural gas pipeline operators between 2011 and 2013. In…

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Behind a clock

Is Technology Running Backward?

Technology isn't adding value anymore. It's adding expense.

I’ve been a computer nerd since I was a young child. My dad bought the family a TI 99/4A before I even went to Kindergarten, and I basically started programming when I learned to read. As I grew up, the thing that fascinated me most about technology was the ability to automate.  Automation, in theory, is supposed to make people’s lives better. It’s supposed to take the drudgery out of work, to leave people to focus on the more creative aspects of their work. With a word processor, I can type, correct, spellcheck, rewrite, and reorganize in an instant. I can even maintain old drafts easily. With a spreadsheet, I can keep track of all my income, expenses, grades, goals,…

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China: COVID-19’s True History Finds an Unlikely Home — GitHub

The Chinese Communist party, rewriting the COVID-19 story with itself as the hero, must reckon with truthful techies

For a brief window of time at the beginning of 2020, China’s internet censors didn’t block stories about Wuhan and COVID-19, the coronavirus. Caixin, a widely-read news magazine, published a multi-page investigative report on everything leading up to the outbreak, including the way in which the provincial authorities in Hubei, of which Wuhan is the capital, suppressed knowledge of the virus. Fang Fang, an award-winning novelist, kept a Wuhan diary online on Weibo, which was recently published as a book in the U.S. (HarperCollins 2020). For that short time, comments on the coronavirus were not being censored (Wired) at WeChat. Many people were thus able to vent their frustrations and pay their respects when 32-year-old ophthalmologist and whistleblower Li Wenliang…

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Curious boy looking out the window with binocular

Has Microsoft Ever Really Innovated?

That’s a question worth asking, with a history of litigation winning out over innovation

An interesting question in a 2010 discussion thread at Quora is “Why has Microsoft seemingly stopped innovating?” A deeper question is “Has Microsoft ever innovated?” Microsoft’s Bill Gates should be celebrated as a gifted and highly competitive entrepreneur and businessman. But his background as a computer scientist and student of algorithmic information theory is questionable. For this reason, Bill Gates’ assessment of the future of AI should be questioned. Undergraduate Gates dropped out of Harvard University to pursue the founding of Microsoft. He was a knowledgeable programmer with early computer hardware but his more significant talents as an entrepreneur did not require deep studies in computer science. Much of his success came from his business instincts and his team of…

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iron chain and castle on the silk national flag of Hong Kong with beautiful folds, the concept of a ban on tourism, political repression, crime, violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Hong Kong: Tech Companies Face Serious Ethical Decisions

As Hong Kong is transformed into a police state, Western companies, faced with demands for snitching on users, are rethinking cozy relationships with China

The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is no longer semi-autonomous, at least in practice. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), circumventing Hong Kong’s parliament and courts, passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 that effectively abolishes the “one country, two systems” regime outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The law was passed one day before the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China (July 1, 1997), in time to quash any pro-democracy candidates who would likely win in the September elections. Although the CCP justifies its moves from the Hong Kong Basic Law and claims that Hong Kong will maintain autonomy, in practice, it has already arrested dissidents and formed a secretive agency called the Office…

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Flying futuristic central processing unit. electronic circuitry within a computer that carries out the instructions of a computer program performing arithmetic, logic, controlling.

Coronavirus: Is Data Mining Failing Its First Really Big Test?

Computers scanning thousands of paper don’t seem to be providing answers for COVID-19

If Alphabet’s Deep Mind or Microsoft had successfully data mined the 29,000 papers and found useful coronavirus information, that would be pretty impressive. But they appear to be giving others a chance to try instead, raising issues once again about the value of data mining in medicine.

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Panoramic aerial view of St Peter's square in Vatican, Rome Italy

Why Does the Vatican Need Microsoft?

Should the Church really partner with IBM and Microsoft to make pronouncements on tech regulation?

When giant corporate actors like IBM and Microsoft promote “transparency and compliance with ethical principles?”, we run the risk that they are helping to craft regulations that hinder future competitors (“regulatory capture”). Rather than partner with them in making statements, the Church should stay clear.

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Photo by Eugene Triguba

AI has changed our relationship to our tools

If a self-driving car careens into a storefront, who’s to blame? A new Seattle U course explores ethics in AI

A free course at Seattle University addresses the “meaning of ethics in AI.” I’ve signed up for it. One concern that I hope will be addressed is: We must not abdicate to machines the very thing that only we can do: Treat other people fairly.

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Is Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Now Nearer — or Impossible?

In response to Kurzweil’s talk at the COSM Technology Summit, panelists noted that AI achievements are revolutionary in size but limited by their nature in scope

George Montañez, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, took issue with Kurzweil’s claim that AlphaGoZero needed no instructions to beat humans at the game of Go: “For a system like this to work, a human must define the incentive structure, also encoding the assumptions.” The sheer power of a computing system does not cause it to do anything at all.

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Former Microsoft Head of Research: Machines Will Soon Know Better Than Your Doctor

Other experts at the COSM Technology Summit were skeptical of Craig Mundie’s claims

Mundie, former Microsoft Chief Research & Strategy Officer, formerly told his audience that Big Data will enable each person to be “completely understood” by machines that can produce a computer facsimile of each detail. It would be far too complex for human physicians to make sense of, he said.

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Random Thoughts on the Passing Scene: How to Spell Gud

Also, Google and Apple ditching college degree requirements is not really that new

Twenty years or so ago, when I worked in Seattle, Microsoft was famous for the testing coding skills of their applicants and asking Mensa-like questions. Degrees were secondary.

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