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Paul Merrell

Microsoft Pitches Technology That Can Read Facial Expressions at Political Rallies - 1 views

  • On the 21st floor of a high-rise hotel in Cleveland, in a room full of political operatives, Microsoft’s Research Division was advertising a technology that could read each facial expression in a massive crowd, analyze the emotions, and report back in real time. “You could use this at a Trump rally,” a sales representative told me. At both the Republican and Democratic conventions, Microsoft sponsored event spaces for the news outlet Politico. Politico, in turn, hosted a series of Microsoft-sponsored discussions about the use of data technology in political campaigns. And throughout Politico’s spaces in both Philadelphia and Cleveland, Microsoft advertised an array of products from “Microsoft Cognitive Services,” its artificial intelligence and cloud computing division. At one exhibit, titled “Realtime Crowd Insights,” a small camera scanned the room, while a monitor displayed the captured image. Every five seconds, a new image would appear with data annotated for each face — an assigned serial number, gender, estimated age, and any emotions detected in the facial expression. When I approached, the machine labeled me “b2ff” and correctly identified me as a 23-year-old male.
  • “Realtime Crowd Insights” is an Application Programming Interface (API), or a software tool that connects web applications to Microsoft’s cloud computing services. Through Microsoft’s emotional analysis API — a component of Realtime Crowd Insights — applications send an image to Microsoft’s servers. Microsoft’s servers then analyze the faces and return emotional profiles for each one. In a November blog post, Microsoft said that the emotional analysis could detect “anger, contempt, fear, disgust, happiness, neutral, sadness or surprise.” Microsoft’s sales representatives told me that political campaigns could use the technology to measure the emotional impact of different talking points — and political scientists could use it to study crowd response at rallies.
  • Facial recognition technology — the identification of faces by name — is already widely used in secret by law enforcement, sports stadiums, retail stores, and even churches, despite being of questionable legality. As early as 2002, facial recognition technology was used at the Super Bowl to cross-reference the 100,000 attendees to a database of the faces of known criminals. The technology is controversial enough that in 2013, Google tried to ban the use of facial recognition apps in its Google glass system. But “Realtime Crowd Insights” is not true facial recognition — it could not identify me by name, only as “b2ff.” It did, however, store enough data on each face that it could continuously identify it with the same serial number, even hours later. The display demonstrated that capability by distinguishing between the number of total faces it had seen, and the number of unique serial numbers. Photo: Alex Emmons
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  • Instead, “Realtime Crowd Insights” is an example of facial characterization technology — where computers analyze faces without necessarily identifying them. Facial characterization has many positive applications — it has been tested in the classroom, as a tool for spotting struggling students, and Microsoft has boasted that the tool will even help blind people read the faces around them. But facial characterization can also be used to assemble and store large profiles of information on individuals, even anonymously.
  • Alvaro Bedoya, a professor at Georgetown Law School and expert on privacy and facial recognition, has hailed that code of conduct as evidence that Microsoft is trying to do the right thing. But he pointed out that it leaves a number of questions unanswered — as illustrated in Cleveland and Philadelphia. “It’s interesting that the app being shown at the convention ‘remembered’ the faces of the people who walked by. That would seem to suggest that their faces were being stored and processed without the consent that Microsoft’s policy requires,” Bedoya said. “You have to wonder: What happened to the face templates of the people who walked by that booth? Were they deleted? Or are they still in the system?” Microsoft officials declined to comment on exactly what information is collected on each face and what data is retained or stored, instead referring me to their privacy policy, which does not address the question. Bedoya also pointed out that Microsoft’s marketing did not seem to match the consent policy. “It’s difficult to envision how companies will obtain consent from people in large crowds or rallies.”
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    But nobody is saying that the output of this technology can't be combined with the output of facial recognition technology to let them monitor you individually AND track your emotions. Fortunately, others are fighting back with knowledge and tech to block facial recognition. http://goo.gl/JMQM2W
Paul Merrell

Open Government Data Initiative - 0 views

  • The Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI) is an initiative led by Microsoft Public Sector Developer Evangelism team. OGDI uses the Azure Services Platform to make it easier to publish and use a wide variety of public data from government agencies. OGDI is also a free, open source ‘starter kit’ (coming soon) with code that can be used to publish data on the Internet in a Web-friendly format with easy-to-use, open API's. OGDI-based web API’s can be accessed from a variety of client technologies such as Silverlight, Flash, JavaScript, PHP, Python, Ruby, mapping web sites, etc. Whether you are a business wishing to use government data, a government developer, or a ‘citizen developer’, these open API's will enable you to build innovative applications, visualizations and mash-ups that empower people through access to government information. This site is built using the OGDI starter kit software assets and provides interactive access to some publicly-available data sets along with sample code and resources for writing applications using the OGDI API's.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft offers free repository for agency data -- Government Computer News - 0 views

  • Microsoft has set up a repository in which government agencies may upload and store their public-facing datasets so that they can be reused by other parties. Agency developers can upload their data to this repository, called the Open Government Data Initiative (OGDI), through Microsoft's Azure, the company's cloud-computing offering.
  • Since taking the role of federal chief information officer, Vivek Kundra has urged agencies to make more of their data open to the public in easy-to-use formats. To this end, the General Services Administration, on behalf of Kundra, is setting up a repository of government feeds, to be called Data.gov. Data.gov will both serve as a repository for data and as an index for government data located elsewhere, Kundra told GCN. OGDI came about as a way to introduce Azure to the federal information technology community, said Susie Adams, Microsoft Federal chief technology officer. "The government wants to store all this data, what with Kundra talking about Data.gov. We asked if you were to use Azure as data source, [what would you need to do]?"
  • In addition to Microsoft's effort, at least one other company has volunteered to rehost government data for wider use. Amazon is offering to store public-domain datasets for users of its Elastic Compute Cloud service.
Paul Merrell

Cesar de la Torre - BLOG : Microsoft Azure Services Platform - 0 views

  • Windows Azure, previously known as “Red Dog”, is a cloud services operating system that serves as the development, service hosting and service management  environment for the Azure Services Platform. Windows Azure provides developers with on-demand compute and storage to host, scale, and manage Internet or cloud applications.
  • Keep in mind that Windows Azure is really a 'cloud layer' over many Windows Servers (hundreds/thousands) situated in Microsoft's data centers, and those servers are really internally running Windows Server 2008 and HyperV. So, Windows Azure is not a new real/classic operating system. It is "Windows in the cloud".
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    Acknowledgment from a Microsoft software architect that Microsoft's Azure cloud service is running atop "hundreds/thousands" of Windows Server 2008 and Hyper V instances, in other words, that Windows does not scale into the cloud. But no mention that Windows Server runs atop Solaris in the Microsoft data centers, although that was the point of the 2004 Technology Sharing Agreement with Sun.
Paul Merrell

Sun, Microsoft tout fruits of cooperation - CNET News - 0 views

  • The software will be incorporated into future versions of the companies' products--likely in 2006, Ballmer said. For now, it's the most concrete example of cooperation between the companies whose fierce competition was blunted somewhat by a 2004 agreement to settle legal issues, share patents and make their software interoperable.
  • Next up will be cooperation in a number of other domains: storage software and hardware; unified systems management; Web services standards for messaging and event-tracking; and Windows terminal services that let PCs act like thin clients by leaving the heavy lifting of computing to central servers.
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    From 2005, a year after Sun and Microsoft became partners in Microsoft's assault on the Web.
Paul Merrell

Sun to Distribute Microsoft Live Search-Powered Toolbar as Part of Java Runtime Environ... - 0 views

  • Sun and Microsoft have agreed on a search distribution deal that will offer the MSN Toolbar, powered by Microsoft Live Search, to U.S.-based Internet Explorer users who download the Java Runtime Environment (JRE).
  • Sun and Microsoft have agreed on a search distribution deal that will offer the MSN Toolbar, powered by Microsoft Live Search, to U.S.-based Internet Explorer users who download the Java Runtime Environment (JRE). This agreement gives Internet Explorer users downloading Sun’s JRE the option to download the MSN Toolbar for one-click access to Live Search features, as well as news, entertainment, sports and more from the MSN network and direct access to Windows Live Hotmail and Windows Live Messenger.
  • “This agreement with Sun Microsystems is another important milestone in our strategy to secure broad-scale distribution for our search offering, enabling millions more people to experience the benefits of Live Search,” said Yusuf Mehdi, senior vice president of the Online Audience Business at Microsoft. “With the vast array of Java software-based Web applications that are downloaded every month, this deal will expose Live Search to millions more Internet users and drive increased volume for our search advertisers.”
Paul Merrell

Page 2 - The Woman Behind the Microsoft Cloud - 0 views

  • One Microsoft data center that is not getting a lot of attention is one the company is building in Chicago, which is the Microsoft's first container-based facility, Chrapaty said, showing a mock-up of a data center container on an 18-wheeler that could be unloaded and added to an existing facility to add capacity.
  • Moreover, Chrapaty said the Chicago data center is the first Microsoft data center to use shipping containers as a primary server packaging and deployment unit. When both phases of the data center are complete, it will total more than 707,000 square feet on a 16-acre site. It will hold hundreds of thousands of servers to deliver on the Microsoft software-plus-services initiative.  The company claims the Chicago facility will be one of the largest data centers in the world and the largest deployment of the use of containers to date.
Paul Merrell

Microsoft's plans for post-Windows OS revealed - Software Development Times On The Web - 0 views

  • Microsoft is incubating a componentized non-Windows operating system known as Midori, which is being architected from the ground up to tackle challenges that Redmond has determined cannot be met by simply evolving its existing technology.SD Times has viewed internal Microsoft documents that outline Midori’s proposed design, which is Internet-centric and predicated on the prevalence of connected systems.
  • The Midori documents foresee applications running across a multitude of topologies, ranging from client-server and multi-tier deployments to peer-to-peer at the edge, and in the cloud data center. Those topologies form a heterogeneous mesh where capabilities can exist at separate places.
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    Supposedly, Midori is going to do cloud computing. Note that the Sun-MSFT deal expires in 2012.
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