Machine learning has been progressing significantly in the past years and is at the frontline of recent technology and development. It is increasingly turning into a business essential and a consumer demand, especially in this new normal economy we are now facing because of the pandemic.
One of Microsoft’s main AI researcher, Robert Schapire, said in a post that they have been working on machine learning bit by bit, beginning with simple problems. He states that their effort is to build the field from the bottom up so that machine learning can apply to a wider scope of problems.
Machine learning uses Artificial Intelligence (AI) to learn and improve from experience without needing explicit programming automatically. The aim is creating computer software that gathers data and learns from it to make accurate decisions.
The more data gets collected, the more precise decisions will be. Computers can automatically learn with little to no human assistance or intervention. It can expand what human analysts can give more efficient tools. The human workforce can also delegate routine tasks to machines and focus on other high-value tasks.
Engineers of Microsoft now strive to decentralize machine learning and make it accessible for engineers and programmers. It allows for collaborative exchange between experts and non-experts, so machine learning systems’ benefits can be utilized widely.
The recent innovations in Machine Learning by Microsoft Research are bringing solutions to real-world problems. Let us look at some of these breakthroughs in Machine Learning by Microsoft researchers:
Major Machine Learning Breakthroughs led by Microsoft Researchers
1. Better AI translators
Translating speech in real-time is now a reality, thanks to machine learning. Microsoft aims to improve AI translators. In the annual Conference on Machine Translation (WMT) competition in 2019, Microsoft won 8-19 challenges for language translation. The Microsoft Research teams used groundbreaking algorithms that significantly improved the quality of results in terms of machine-translation.
Alexander Waibel, an expert from Carnegie Mellon University’s Language Technologies Institute, says that machine-translation will reach ad exceed human-level performance in our lifetime. AI translation technology is fast evolving.
However, other experts note that translation technology is beneficial but should not take actual learning of languages. Machine learning-based translators still have a lot to improve on, but AI and machine learning have remarkably increased translation accuracy.
Linguists also tell us that word meanings do not always match different languages. The context may differ, so what is said may not be translated with the same meaning or context.
Nonverbal cues are also left out in translation. Hand gestures are the simplest examples crucial for most people in a normal conversation. There are no reading-between-the-lines, which often says more than what is spoken. In machine translation, these judgments are not easily solved because context varies across speakers and cultures.
Still, this is a big development in machine translation. Technology is designed to help people add to what they can do, to make their lives easier.
There are many applications where machine translation can bring many benefits, like the following:
- creative writing (grammar and readability accuracy)
- medical science
- international relations (processing refugees, for instance)
- The creation of a global, multicultural, multinational language
2. Better Facial Expression Recognition
Image Source: Microsoft
At Microsoft, scientists are spearheading research on using AI and machine learning to build smarter apps to recognize sounds, words, images, and facial expressions. Microsoft Project Oxford is improving research so machines can recognize the emotions of Chris Bishop, who demonstrated the emotion tool at the Microsoft Conference, Future Decoded.
Again, Microsoft is giving developers no machine learning or artificial intelligence expertise tools to benefit from the technology and apply it to what they do. In this way, they can still incorporate speech, vision, and language understanding as they create their apps. See this video below:
Video Source: Microsoft Research
It is user-friendly, so developers with no background in machine learning can easily add it to their apps with w single API call. Deployment is flexible because it is a cloud-based solution.
Programmers can face cloud computing or edge computing that comes with enterprise-level privacy and security and for your data and trained models.
3. Holo Lens 2
Walgreens is collaborating with Microsoft, using one of its latest product innovations, Microsoft HoloLens 2, to train store employees in the US. Using Holo Lens 2, the employees are trained on properly restocking products, conducting quality checks on perishable goods, and handling difficult customer service scenarios via the 3D mixed-reality model of their stores.
Altoura, a Microsoft partner, aims to reacquaint employees with the store chain’s new layouts post-renovations throughout the supply chain. The training is immersive and interactive, putting the employee immediately in the newly-renovated store’s physical environment, even before stepping into the actual location.
Walgreens will also work with another Microsoft partner, Acuity, to create an anonymous shopping path system. Bluetooth-powered carts and baskets gather data on how many customers are going through their remodeled store chains. Microsoft then analyzes the data through Power BI to measure if the new layouts are customer-friendly and efficient.
4. Health Technology
Can you cure diseases with computers and algorithms, not with beakers and test tubes?
Different teams are doing different strategies:
- Utilizing machine learning with natural language processing helps oncologists provide intuitive, accurate, and progressive cancer treatment efficiently for patients through research data.
- Coupling of machine learning and computer vision so radiologists have better scans and precise insights on cancer patients’ progressing tumors.
- The use of extensive algorithms, so scientists see how cancers develop and find the best treatments to destroy cancer in patients.
- Technology innovations that allow scientists to program and control cells to combat diseases like cancer.
5. Continuity in Times of Crisis
In one of the most challenging pandemics in history, Microsoft aids to maintain continuity and help in the world’s efforts to fight back and bounce back through the following:
- Covid-19 Health Bot: this is a conversational AI tool allowing healthcare organizations to give trusted and useful healthcare services and information. Immediate release of information is so crucial in a time of crisis. This tool is now in use at more than 1,500 healthcare sites in 23 countries worldwide. The Covid-19 Health Bot has helped 32 million people conduct a self-assessment of their symptoms.
- Computing power to health organizations: Microsoft is donating massive amounts of computing power to health organizations and great research groups worldwide. This is very helpful as the world works together in finding the best possible solutions to combat the pandemic.
- Remote working: Microsoft solutions facilitate remote working faster than expected to help businesses and enterprises worldwide. It helps companies shift immediately to remote operations and distributed teams set-up to maintain service and operations continuity.
Microsoft 365, running on the Microsoft Azure Cloud, leads the fleet of Microsoft’s touchless solutions and other Microsoft server and cloud-based storage solutions.
Microsoft continues to bring the digital world many breakthroughs over the years. Its innovations keep pushing the boundaries of designs while pushing these innovations towards the broader market’s direction.
Indeed, Microsoft exhibits Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) excellently. That is why Microsoft is a household name and a formidable influence in technology today, including Artificial Intelligence and Machine Learning.