Golf’s green jacket, a Special Olympics tech makeover and a Q&A about ‘deep learning’ – Weekend Reading: April 7 edition

| Susanna Ray

Golf fans have a big weekend ahead, with all eyes on Augusta, Georgia, for one of the most prestigious tournaments of the year. If the weather’s nice and you’re itching to get off the couch and play a round yourself, take Bing along as your virtual caddy to keep an eye on the pros and see who will win the coveted green jacket on Sunday. Bing will provide round-by-round scores, full leaderboards, golfers’ world rankings and total earnings, and more – not only this weekend but all season long.

Technology is helping to provide better sports experiences all around. Special Olympics, which turns 50 next year, is rejuvenating itself with a tech makeover, turning to the cloud and other advances to improve its World Games for athletes, coaches, fans, volunteers, families – in other words, everyone involved.

“Now that we have tools we’ve never had before, every single one of my skiers has been able to improve their personal best,” said Bryan Tweit, who has volunteered for 25 years as an alpine skiing coach with the organization for athletes with intellectual disabilities. “And that builds confidence, which seeps into every area of their lives.”

It’s National Autism Awareness Month, making it a good time to rethink how to empower every person to achieve more. The vast majority of people with autism are either unemployed or underemployed, leaving a large pool of untapped talent. But there are ways to help these incredibly talented people break through traditional barriers to gain employment. Microsoft is dedicated to expanding its Autism Hiring Program by sponsoring various summits and career fairs.

“At Microsoft, we see disability as a strength,” Neil Barnett, the company’s director of inclusive hiring and accessibility, wrote in a blog post.

Deep learning pioneer Yoshua Bengio, who advises Microsoft on its artificial intelligence (AI) efforts and is head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, stopped by the company’s Redmond, Washington, campus recently and took some time out for a chat.

What is deep learning, you may ask – and Bengio will gladly tell you in this Q&A. Hint: It has to do with making machines intelligent by helping them learn, inspired by our understanding of how human brains work. And Bengio is most excited about the progress being made right now in what’s called unsupervised learning.

If the forecast looks stormy this weekend, you may want to do some preemptive planning by downloading the Netflix app for Windows 10, which will let you download shows and movies for offline viewing – a feature that would come in very handy if a storm knocked out power to your internet. You can also stay out of the elements and work on diagram designs with the updated Grapholite app.

Or settle in and spend some quality time chasing criminals as an undercover police officer, having a magical adventure on a train with two orphaned siblings, or participating in a shootout in a gunfight dungeon. New games this week include “Lego City Undercover,” “Blackwood Crossing” and “Enter the Gungeon.”

This week on the Facebook, Twitter and Instagram pages, we featured Connected Eyes, a cloud-based, machine-learning research project that harnesses artificial intelligence to correct vision. This project was created by Microsoft India in partnership with L V Prasad Eye Institute and was honored as one of Fast Company’s 2017 World Changing Ideas.

Whatever the weather may bring, we hope you have a great weekend, and we’ll see you next Friday for another edition of Weekend Reading!

Posted by Susanna Ray

Microsoft News Center Staff


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