Microsoft's Project Oxford Gets Emotional With Machine Learning, AI - InformationWeek

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11/11/2015
02:06 PM
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Microsoft's Project Oxford Gets Emotional With Machine Learning, AI

Microsoft announces new services in its Project Oxford suite of developer tools based on machine learning and artificial intelligence.

7 Microsoft Improvements We Need To See
7 Microsoft Improvements We Need To See
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Microsoft has unveiled plans to release new tools in its Project Oxford that will help developers take advantage of latest advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence, including a tool that can recognize emotion. The company made the announcement Wednesday at the Future Decoded conference in London.

Project Oxford, a suite of developer tools based on Microsoft's machine learning and artificial intelligence research, was introduced in May at the Build conference. It uses a Web-based RESTful interface to add voice, text, and image services. Project Oxford face, speech, and computer-vision APIs have also been included as part of the Cortana Analytics Suite.

The emotion tool released Wednesday "can be used to create systems that recognize eight core emotional states -- anger, contempt, fear, disgust, happiness, neutral, sadness or surprise -- based on universal facial expressions that reflect those feelings," according to a Microsoft blog post about the announcement.

(Image: Microsoft)

(Image: Microsoft)

However, not all emotions are detected with the same level of confidence, according to reports. Because the tool can only handle static images at the moment, emotions such as happiness can be detected with a higher level of confidence than other emotions such as contempt or disgust.

The emotion tool is now available to developers as a public beta. Other new tools announced Wednesday will be released as beta versions by the end of the year. They include video, Custom Recognition Intelligent Services, speaker recognition, and updates to face-detection APIs.

The video tool, which is based on some of the same technology found in Microsoft's Hyperlapse, helps analyze and edit videos by tracking faces, detecting motion, and stabilizing shaky video.

Custom Recognition Intelligent Services (CRIS) can tailor voice recognition for a specific situation, such as a noisy venue. The tool can also be used to help an app better understand people who have traditionally had trouble with voice recognition, such as non-native speakers or those with disabilities. Microsoft said that it will be available as an invite-only beta by the end of the year.

The speaker recognition tool can used to discover who is speaking based on learning the particulars of an individual's voice. The tool might be useful for identification of a speaker in a conference call, for example. It will be available as a public beta by the end of the year.

[No, AI Won't Kill Us All.]

Microsoft also announced updates to Project Oxford's face APIs to include facial hair and smile prediction tools, and an improved visual age estimation and gender identification.

Connecting speaker recognition and face detection may also serve as the foundation of an authentication system for users similar to what Google is doing with the still-under-development Project Abacus.

All of the real work goes on inside of Microsoft's Azure Cloud platform, and that seems to be the way Microsoft wants it. These kinds of features serve as a gateway to Azure for developers, and may grow into a competitive advantage against other commodity cloud providers.

Larry Loeb has written for many of the last century's major "dead tree" computer magazines, having been, among other things, a consulting editor for BYTE magazine and senior editor for the launch of WebWeek. He has written a book on the Secure Electronic Transaction Internet ... View Full Bio

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larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
11/12/2015 | 2:43:59 PM
Re: Use Cases of Emotional Machine Learning
Remember, remember the Fifth of November...
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2015 | 2:19:03 PM
Re: Use Cases of Emotional Machine Learning
Guy Fawkes died a VERY unpleasant death
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
11/12/2015 | 7:12:26 AM
Re: Use Cases of Emotional Machine Learning
In this sort of situation, privacy is an illusion.

You know the way to stop it? Everyone wears those GuyFawkes masks used by Anonymous.

Wearing a surgical mask outside is accepted in Japan for health reasons, maybe that would be accepted by people for privacy reasons.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
11/12/2015 | 7:09:38 AM
Re: Let's not get emotional
Well, yes. We leave all sorts of digital delitrius over time.

But, what if that trail is totally misinterpreted by an AI and believed by whomever gets the report of it?

 
Li Tan
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Li Tan,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2015 | 1:22:11 AM
Re: Use Cases of Emotional Machine Learning
I like your classroom example - that can be one practical use. But with this new technology, will our privacy be further invaded? Now it's hard for people to know what you are thinking. But with the analysis of emotion state, your current emotion is revealed.
Gary_EL
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Gary_EL,
User Rank: Ninja
11/12/2015 | 12:20:11 AM
Re: Let's not get emotional
Well, thanks to Obamacare, I don't have to care one bit what any insurance company thinks of me, because they can no longer turn you down for pre-existing condidtions or for anything else. But it's true, our lives are becoming more and more like open books.
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
11/11/2015 | 9:34:03 PM
Re: Let's not get emotional
Gee, i like your cynicism.

Our digital social trail can already work against us without these tools (think posts from that party three years ago where the lampshade was on your head), but they may just make it more efficient.

Remember kids, they never forget on social media even if they say they do.
Charlie Babcock
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Charlie Babcock,
User Rank: Author
11/11/2015 | 9:26:53 PM
Let's not get emotional
And what if the health care or insurance company to which you're applying analyzes an archive of video of you to determine whether you're a healthy, happy and optimistic individual or one of the other kinds to select out who it wishes to take? Seems to me this will find as many nefarious business uses as ones that are a plus for the consumer.

 
larryloeb
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larryloeb,
User Rank: Author
11/11/2015 | 5:49:42 PM
Re: Use Cases of Emotional Machine Learning
Boy, this is a slippery slope.

I don't want FB to have access to my camera; but that's me.

What if i am sleeping in class? will the prof punish me?
Brian.Dean
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Brian.Dean,
User Rank: Ninja
11/11/2015 | 4:38:28 PM
Use Cases of Emotional Machine Learning
There might be a number of great use cases for an algorithm that is able to detect a human's emotional state. For example, Facebook could improve it's Newsfeed if it had access to a user's emotional state and professors could setup a camera in class, if analysis of the data reveals that on average the class was confused then, a revision class could be setup for the concerning topic -- the same could be setup for distance learning.

Will users adopt such a technology? The Facebook example would be controversial. Having said that, I wonder how many users are already sharing their image with a device through Android's "Smart Stay" function. The classroom example seems like an instant success.

 
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