Weekend update: Microsoft, Huawei, Google Crisis Response and the quest for ethical AI

A breakdown of the week's hottest tech and AI news and the most exciting innovations within the industry

7Dec

It's been a tumultuous week in the soap drama that is our current tech industry and, as usual, the Innovation Enterprise team have had a task on their hands to keep up.

Tech stocks have continued to undulate, especially for the FAANG stocks, as Apple, Amazon and Microsoft have all jostled for the title of the world's most valuable publicly traded company. Last week we reported that Microsoft overtook Apple, who had until then had held the title for five years, then this week Amazon overtook both companies briefly before Apple ended up on top again.

Facebook received yet more criticism from some of its top investors for refusing to engage with shareholders, while DeepMind created 3D models of complex proteins (a task long considered one of the "core challenges in biology").

The call for ethical AI has stepped up a notch this week as well, with Google striving to create bias-free AI while the Canadian government released a declaration aimed at guiding individuals, organizations, companies and governments to make responsible and ethical choices when building and using AI. And AI Now, a group of technology researchers including employees from Google and Microsoft, outlined 10 recommendations for ethical AI usage and warned against AI being used by governments and corporations to detect human emotion.

Oh, and in a dramatic turn of events, Canada arrested Huawei's CFO on suspicion of violating US trade sanctions against Iran.

Below, we highlight some of our other most compelling stories, interviews and analysis from across our Channels.

DATAx presents: Data – the new lifesaver

Medical errors are the third biggest cause of death in the US, killing an estimated 250,000 each year. A significant proportion of these deaths could be avoided with more efficient and transparent data sharing. DATAx sat down with Lonnie Rae, co-founder and CEO of Medal, a healthcare startup using machine learning to refine and process medical data.

"Even if I was an incredible doctor and able to save the life of every person I touched throughout my whole career I would never be able to help as many people as I would if I focused on the inoperability," says Rae.

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How Google is using AI to respond to natural emergencies and save lives

Times of emergencies are often when we need the most data, yet systems often fail us. That's why Google .org has been working with nonprofits and innovators to utilize data to develop a number of disaster information services such as Person Finder, SOS Alerts and Public Alerts. Google Crisis Response software engineering manager Mor Schlesinger discusses the work Google is doing to provide assistance to those dealing with the aftermath of a natural disaster or terrorist attack.

"We're doing this because we feel this is the right thing to do," says Schlesinger. "Telling you that the flood is coming is great, but hopefully we're providing a very simple way to understand what is going on and the information needed to make a decision."

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DATAx presents: Thinking beyond STEM

Even with the increased visibility and transparency over the few years, careers in STEM are still dominated by men. Concluding DATAx's three-part series speaking with Bharti Rai, the former head of data and digital innovation at Bayer and incoming VP of commercial effectiveness at Novartis, we asked her about what is holding women back from leadership roles and what can be done to tackle this.

"Inclusivity in STEM starts way before individuals enter the workforce and industry. It is rooted in cultural aspects, in how we raise our boys and girls and the unconscious, unintentional decisions we make when exposing them to certain after-school activities," said Rai.

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New virtual avatar "Star" to bring books to life through sign language

In collaboration, Huawei, the European Union for the Deaf, Penguin Random House and the Aardman Animations has developed an AI-powered app, StorySign, which has been designed to cater to the needs of hearing-impaired children. The app leverages Huawei's AI technology tools, such as image recognition and optical character recognition capabilities, to translate books into sign language via a virtual character named "Star".

"Nothing like StorySign exists," said 

Huawei global senior product marketing manager Peter Gauden. "It's great see with the use of AI and innovative technology we can open the world of books to deaf children."

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Climate-smart technologies have become an innovation focus for many startups

Climate change is a global phenomenon requiring solutions from around the world. Although tech startups are typically geared toward earning, many are actually addressing serious issues like climate change.

Innovation Enterprise looks at some of the most exciting climate-smart startups in the world right now, developing climate-smart technologies, including approaches that reduce energy use while increasing crop yield.

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DATAx presents: Seven places worth visiting while in New York

DATAx is coming to New York and while the festival itself will be completely unmissable, with presentations from numerous data and AI experts spanning five different industries, the question remains: What else are you going to do with yourself while you're in the Big Apple?

To help some of our guests who are traveling in from all over the world have the best possible time, DATAx presents its selection for some of the best places to visit while chilling in the Big Apple.

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