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Posted by Allison Linn
Microsoft researchers have figured out a way to build software systems spanning many computers that can be proven free of bugs, a significant feat in the decades-long quest to create perfect software.
"Program verification has been a holy grail for computer science for 40 or 50 years," said Bryan Parno, a Microsoft researcher who is one of the co-authors of a forthcoming paper on the project.
The researchers caution that we are still far from a world in which large computer programs, such as complex operating systems, could realistically be built in a way that is guaranteed to be free of bugs.
Advances in artificial intelligence have improved our lives in many ways. Thanks to methods developed in artificial intelligence, we have GPS systems that help us to get where we are going, smart phones that understand what we are saying and early-stage tools to predict serious medical complications and guide treatments.
These tools offer only a small glimpse of the ways in which artificial intelligence will benefit us and influence our lives in years to come, two top leaders in the artificial intelligence field say. They argue that researchers must focus even more intensely on near-term artificial intelligence challenges while also thinking about and addressing concerns voiced about future, dystopian potential consequences.
Microsoft researcher Seny Kamara and his academic colleagues have figured out a way to obtain personal information from certain encrypted databases even when the databases are being protected by a promising security method.
The encrypted database system, called CryptDB, could be undermined to reveal information in electronic medical records when the data is being used in certain ways.
The researchers are hoping the discovery will help businesses and organizations that handle sensitive information, such as electronic medical records, to understand what security precautions they should take into account even if they are using some of the latest encryption methods.
A new Microsoft Research project lets people to create high-quality 3D images in real time, using a regular mobile phone, with about the same effort it takes to snap a picture or capture a video.
"What this system effectively allows us to do is to take something similar to a picture, but it's a full 3D object," said Peter Ondruska, a Ph.D. candidate at Oxford University who worked on the project while he was an intern at Microsoft Research.
The researchers say the system, called MobileFusion, is better than other methods for 3D scanning with a mobile device because it doesn't need any extra hardware, or even an Internet connection, to work. That means scientists in remote locations or hikers deep in the woods can capture their surroundings using a regular cell phone without a Wi-Fi connection.
This week Jamie Shotton will be honored as one of MIT Technology Review's Innovators under 35. The distinction goes to exceptionally talented young innovators whose work the editors believe has the greatest potential to transform the world. Previous winners include Google co-founders Larry Page and Sergey Brin and Facebook co-founder Mark Zuckerberg.