Facebook has already become as one of the most accessed services on the internet, but the vision of its CEO, Mark Zuckerberg does not stop there. In fact, his vision is not limited to the present population of the internet users either. The catch is that Facebook ambitious plan surpasses Facebook itself and aims to improve internet connectivity, where everyone has access to it. The access can even be free if necessary, which was reflected in his ambitious Internet.org initiative.
Internet.org- The First of the Facebook ambitious plan
Internet.org was launched almost two and a half years ago which aimed to connect everyone in the world. This initiative was directed mainly towards those who have access to internet available to them but cannot afford to pay for that. It is applicable more to those families where the total expenditure per year is below $ 2000. In such cases, internet does not get the priority over other basic needs.
This is where Zuckerberg comes in with his argument. Internet should be considered as a basic human right similar to healthcare or clean water. Starting from availing government services to price change in the next market, Facebook can be used in so many front. Therefore, free access to this service would create opportunities for many people. Internet.org is just one of the ways Zuckerberg is trying to increase the reach of internet connectivity. With the help of Connectivity Lab, the R&D group of Facebook, more ways like using lasers, drones, enhanced software, etc. are being tested to deliver the internet to the mass.
All this might sound very noble and ideal in theory, but these ideas are also creating huge backlash in a number of countries. It was considered as a threat to net neutrality as it provided free access to a selected group of services. Later, this service was relaunched with the title Free Basics. This app had an improved security, but it was also temporarily banned in India on the same ground.
Lasers and Drones
Facebook ambitious plan doesn’t stop at apps and free data from local operators. Other than the apps and local operator based solutions, Zuckerberg also has plans to launch a satellite by this year above the sub-Saharan Africa. Besides the satellite, Zuckerberg has also plans for conducting test flights of the drones that are to be used for delivering internet. On the other hand, Mark Zuckerberg has also contacted Hamid Hemmati from NASA’s Jet Propulsion Laboratory who specializes in communications travelling on lasers. In fact, Zuckerberg aims to make a combination of lasers and drones to deliver internet to the furthest of places at a high speed. The drones that are currently in development have the wingspan of a Boeing 737, but the weight is less than a thousand pounds. The technology may be ready within a year or two, but the major obstacle here is the regulations. In this case, Facebook is working with Alphabets (Google) to cross these regulatory hurdles.
All these solutions leave another problem untouched. Is everyone looking forward to their access to internet? People have to be convinced and informed in order to know why they need internet and what it can do for them. Zuckerberg is also working on that front and visiting a good number of countries every month with his mission and vision. Facebook ambitious plan implementation may not be as far as it seems, given the speed at which technology is advancing right now.
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Google’s AlphaGo beats human Go champion in a match of Go, an ancient Chinese board game. Beating humans at board games has been a great milestone in testing various computer algorithms in order to prove their competence. This tradition has started with the game of tic-tac-toe, but more complicated games have been added. Chess has been the go to game for testing algorithms for years. In the recent years, Google has also created an algorithm that can play a number of Atari games without any additional input other than the pixels on the display.
The Game of Go
The game in discussion, Go is a 2500 year old game invented in China. It is played with a board with square grid and black and white stones. The player try to surround the other player’s pieces with their pieces to capture that. In this way, one player has to capture more than 50 percent of the board to win the game.
How Google’s AlphaGo Beats Human Go Champion
It was not easy at first to beat humans at chess for computers as the 10120 number of possibilities. In case of Go, the number of possibilities becomes way past that barrier with an astonishing number of 10761 possibilities. It is not possible just to brute force through such a huge number in a game. In order to solve that Google DeepMind changed their approach. In this approach, one neural network predicts the next move that will be the most likely to achieve victory. The other neural network is used to reduce the depth of the search tree. AlphaGo was also trained on 30 million moves from expert human players followed by matches with other Go playing AIs. In those matches, AlphaGo won 499 times out of 500 matches. The final victory was achieved against Fan Hui, who is the top player of Europe. AlphaGo wins 5 out of 5 times without a single loss. It is a historical event that can be compared with 1997’s winning of Deep Blue against Garry Kasparov. DeepMind is also planning to test the potential of AlphaGo again in the next March in a match against the world’s top Go player, Lee Sedol.
Google’s AlphaGo beats human Go champion not just to be the expert in playing Go. The goal here is to create a system that can act to solve real world problems which are still too complicated for machines to solve with the present technology. The problems ranges from climate modelling to the analysis of complex diseases.
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In In a suprise move made today, Microsoft acquired SwiftKey, the software keyboard and its SDK. SwiftKey is used on over 300 million Android and iOS devices around the world. According to SwiftKey, the keyboard has saved nearly 10 trillion keystrokes, which translates to saving 100,000 years in typing time. Microsoft acquired SwiftKey for $ 250 million. SwiftKey was started eight years ago and never released a native app for Windows Phones.
SwiftKey is a keyboard that will work well with Microsoft software. Microsoft Office programs (Word, Excel, Access, etc.) would benefit from a predictive keyboard like SwiftKey. Anything that makes typing easier on mobile devices is a good thing, and more comfortable typing means more productivity. Smaller digital devices (Smartphones, phablets, and tablets) are still growing in their work efficiency. SwiftKey has made typing more efficient for many users, and this software being built into Microsoft’s programs will add extra to a software suite already packed with features.
According to Harry Shum, Executive Vice President, Technology and Research, “This acquisition are a great example of Microsoft’s commitment to bringing its software and services to all platforms. We’ll continue to develop SwiftKey’s market-leading keyboard apps for Android and iOS as well as explore scenarios for the integration of the core technology across the breadth of our product and services portfolio. Moreover, SwiftKey’s predictive technology aligns with Microsoft’s investments and ambition to develop intelligent systems that can work more on the user’s behalf and under their control.”
According to SwiftKey, the app will remain free for Android and iOS users. The same employees will be moving over to Microsoft, so the team that created and maintained SwiftKey will stay together. This is good news, as it should mean not much will change with the app. How it will improve Microsoft’s other software and apps will be interesting to see. Microsoft has also acquired Acompli, MilelQ, Sunrise and Wunderlust.
Microsoft hasn’t had a good time with devices and digital hardware, with their smartphones and tablets not selling well. Microsoft’s software (Such as the Office suite) and the OS Windows 10 (Despite the complaints of Windows users) are doing well. It’s unlikely Windows as a desktop/laptop OS will disappear anytime soon. With the acquisition of other apps, maybe Microsoft sees its future in apps. Having the backing behind its apps (Such as the cloud) is something that puts it ahead of other app designers.
Source: Microsoft, SwiftKey
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