Published On: Wed, Jul 12th, 2017

Microsoft launches AI for Earth to give $2M in services to environmental projects

After assisting to launch a Partnership on AI with Google, Facebook and others; and doubling down on AI research, currently Microsoft denounced a new beginning that points to how it skeleton to aim specific verticals in what can potentially be a really cloudy margin — while also lifting a open picture of AI as some grow endangered about a implications of a encroaching influence.

Today, a association announced AI for Earth, a new module that will be dedicated to AI-based projects in a areas of agriculture, water, biodiversity and meridian change, where Microsoft proposes to present adult to $2 million in Microsoft tools, services and training per plan to assistance them get a leg up. It will be led by Microsoft Chief Environmental Scientist Lucas Joppa.

AI for Earth will not embody income grants as such — nonetheless as new investments from Microsoft Ventures uncover (and also its acquisitions), a association is also peaceful to put income where a mouth is, and to take equity in a many engaging projects, too. This module could assistance emanate a flue to brand and follow some of a some-more engaging projects (and get them regulating Microsoft services to boot).

The news is being announced during an eventuality in London this morning highlighting Microsoft’s progress in AI investigate in a UK and beyond. The eventuality was led by Harry Shum, Microsoft’s EVP of its AI and Research Group, along with Emma Williams, GM of Bing Studio; Chris Bishop, Distinguished Scientist and Laboratory Director at Microsoft Research Cambridge; and Eric Horvitz, technical associate and executive of Microsoft Research Labs.

Microsoft’s RD labs in Cambridge, UK (the initial Microsoft set adult outward of a US) are 20 years aged this year, and Microsoft is phenomenon some other new programs in a area — including a new Microsoft Research AI group; a new “Aether Advisory Panel” (an acronym for “AI and Ethics in Engineering and Research”) that will news directly to comparison management; a new partnership with a Amsterdam Machine Learning Lab; and a few new initial products that are regulating AI, such as a new PowerPoint Presentation Translator.

A lot of AI applications are being combined to reinstate or urge IT services that already exist — for example, see, an AI-based height that helps urge sales conversions; or AI-based cybersecurity services; or robots for factories. The thought behind AI for Earth is a tiny different. Microsoft is looking for projects that are regulating AI to find solutions to problems that have nonetheless to be solved.

This is an engaging and critical turn on a AI challenge: many worry about how AI will reinstate humans, and/or will sensitively assistance hedge reliable and remoteness oversights — “societal angst” as Microsoft’s Emma Williams, a GM of Bing Studio and a “EQ Expert”, put it (EQ: romantic quotient).

The AI for Earth program, in that regard, has a few of purposes: not only to get closer to startups that Microsoft competence wish to acquire or deposit in a AI margin and to get those startups and organizations to build on Microsoft platforms; though also to assistance Microsoft position itself as a obliged actor in this space who wants to use AI for wider and tolerable benefits. “We are committed to a really scrupulous proceed to AI,” Williams pronounced today.

“It comes down to a doubt of trust, between organisations though also with patients,” remarkable Bishop, in anxiety to one of a new controversies in AI, where Alphabet’s DeepMind is operative with a NHS, a plan that was found to have disregarded remoteness rules.

Microsoft pronounced that a $2 million volume in AI for Earth will cover entrance to Azure and Microsoft’s information scholarship “virtual machine”; and it will also assistance organizations get entrance to some-more approach financial assistance in a form of grants.

Up to now there have been 3 projects that have sensitively perceived assistance from a AI for Earth initiative, forward of Microsoft giving a module a stronger push.

They embody a partnership with Esri to work with 5 organisations focused on high-resolution land cover mapping, and building a lower-cost mapping apparatus to analyze, guard and conduct healthy resources.

Microsoft has also been operative with a University of Pittsburgh, Johns Hopkins University, University of California Riverside, and Vanderbilt University on something it describes as “Project Premonition” to detect pathogens by regulating mosquitos into “devices that collect data”, that is also being used for biodiversity research.

The third plan is agricultural. In India a association is operative with the International Crops Research Institute for a Semi-Arid Tropics (ICRISAT), that is a UN agency; and a internal supervision in Andhra Pradesh “to capacitate data-driven tillage for improving rural yield, shortening a cost of farming, and tying a impact of cultivation on meridian change.”

AI for Earth is not a initial time that Microsoft has designed extend programs to boost a contacts with businesses. If we recall, an progressing incarnation of Microsoft Ventures, before it became a corporate VC arm, enclosed BizSpark, a module it started using in 2008 directed during giving program packages and entrance to Microsoft’s other services to tiny businesses.

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