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Posted by Rob Knies
In February 2012, in response to an initiative from the administration of U.S. President Obama to harness technology and innovation to encourage development for longtime scientific challenges such as health, food security, and climate change, the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office launched Patents for Humanity, a program to recognize those who use patented technology to aid the less fortunate.The inaugural winners are in, and prominent among them is Infer.NET, a Microsoft Research Cambridge library for machine learning, which won one of the contest’s four categories, information technology.The awards were presented April 11 in the Dirksen Senate Office Building on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C. Teresa Stanek Rea, acting undersecretary of Commerce for Intellectual Property and acting director of the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, made the presentations, and U.S. Sen. Patrick Leahy, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee, who introduced last year’s Patents for Humanity Program Improvement Act, spoke during the event. Fred Humphries, Microsoft vice president for U.S. Government Affairs, accepted the award.John Winn, along with Tom Minka one of the inventors of Infer.NET, didn’t exactly see such an honor coming.
Over the past year, the Center for Urban Science and Progress (CUSP), a New York City-based public-private research center created by New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg in conjunction with New York University, has advanced from creation to gaining traction in its mission of using the city as a living laboratory and classroom to help cities around the world become more productive, livable, equitable, and resilient.CUSP relies on urban informatics—the acquisition, integration, and analysis of data to understand and improve urban systems and the quality of city life.Over the past year, Microsoft Research New York City has advanced from creation to gaining traction in its mission to advance the state of the art in computational and behavioral social sciences, computational economics and prediction markets, machine learning, and informational retrieval.See any parallels there? You’re not the only one.
Over at the Next at Microsoft blog, Steve Clayton has just published a post about the latest issue of the Things We’ve Learnt About … series from the Socio-Digital Systems (SDS) group at Microsoft Research Cambridge.This issue, the third in this compelling, visually stunning series of magazine-type treatments, focuses on search and web use—or, more specifically, what it means to move beyond search.The latest copy is available for download, as are its predecessors, which addressed the areas of communication and memory, respectively. What you’ll find is a few dozen pages of incisive text blocks, liberally seasoned with eye-popping graphics, that look beyond the search engines and mechanisms currently in vogue to what the future could hold.
On Feb. 28, at the Santa Clara (Calif.) Convention Center, Kate Crawford, principal researcher at Microsoft Research New England, took the stage during the Strata Conference to deliver an illuminating, 17-minute talk entitled Algorithmic Illusions: Hidden Biases of Big Data.During that presentation, she cautioned that data and collections of data are not objective. They are created and shaped by human beings, and understanding the unavoidable hidden biases people bring to data collection and analysis can be as significant as the data themselves.Now, on the heels of that appearance, Crawford is bringing a similar message to a different audience, that of the Harvard Business Review, which has just published her contributed article, Big Data Has a Signal Problem, that underscores the concepts she discussed during Strata 2013.
Posted by Kelly Berschauer
The Association for Computing Machinery (ACM) has a history of conducting successful student competitions during its major conferences, so it was only fitting that when Microsoft Research Connections and Microsoft Research Silicon Valley were considering hosting a similar event in the latter’s Mountain View, Calif., facility focused on research, they should turn to the ACM model.
The student research competition, hosted in conjunction with the Simons Institute for the Theory of Computing, based at the University of California, Berkeley, was held March 25 with the goal of connecting local students with local research organizations around the globe. Arjmand Samuel, senior research program manager for Microsoft Research Connections, indicated that he hopes the event serves as a precursor to a trend.