Event Recap

Women in Data Science Conference & Pre-Event @NERD: “Hacking Bias Ideation”

On February 2, the Microsoft New England Research & Development (NERD) Center hosted and sponsored the “Hacking Bias & Discrimination Ideation Session,” a precursor to the Harvard-MIT chapter of the Women in Data Science Conference.

This six-hour event was designed to tackle the presence of bias in data science models and algorithms through discussion and brainstorming of the following topics:

  1. Gender Bias in Word Embeddings:  http://www.wordbias.org/
  2. Identifying Gender Bias in Performance Reviews
  3. Neuroinformatics Research Group Understanding Response Bias
  4. Bias in ML algorithms applied to healthcare
  5. Bias in Law Enforcement Predictions
  6. Consumer Protections in a Digital Age
  7. Hiring and Selection Models
  8. Who Has Political Power and How Do You Measure It?

If you’d like to attend an upcoming Hacking Bias and Discrimination event, please consider:

The following day, more than 200 participants attended the Women in Data Science Conference held at NERD. Cathy Chute, Executive Director of the Harvard Institute for Applied Computational Science, and Elizabeth Sikorovsky, Executive Director of the MIT Institute for Data, Systems, and Society, delivered the opening remarks, followed by Elizabeth Bruce, Microsoft’s University Relations Lead, who presented a summary of the pre-event outcomes. Our very own Jennifer Chayes, Managing Director of Microsoft Research NE & NYC, delivered the keynote presentation, followed by talks from Microsoft Researcher Jennifer Listgarten, MIT professors, and data science industry professionals. Click Here for the conference agenda, abstracts and slides.

A recap video, via Zac Carpman:

RECAP: #CivicTechBos — Broadband Equity

What’s the importance of broadband equity?

Last night, our latest Conversation in Civic Innovation (#CivicTechBos) explored new technologies in broadband, ways to make internet accessible, and the importance behind it all.

Speakers included:

Miss out on our event? Catch up with us on Twitter Moments (below):

RECAP: Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s 2017 State of the City Address

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Last night, our Technology & Civic Engagement team in New England had the wonderful honor of being invited to  Mayor Martin J. Walsh’s 2017 State of the City Address at Symphony Hall in Boston. Together with city leaders, fellow constituents, and the Mayor himself, we celebrated Boston’s successes and growth in the past year, and looked forward to successes in 2017.

A look at the night, in tweets:

Read Mayor Walsh’s full State of the City Address here.

Looking Back at Computer Science Education Week 2016

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Last week, we joined a revolution as Computer Science Education Week (CSEdWeek) launched worldwide, inspiring students to incorporate CS education into their daily lives. We celebrated by sharing stories like David Delmar’s Resilient Coders, uplifting others through the power of education, and by participating in Hour of Code events throughout the New England area.

Meanwhile, our community engaged on the same level, hosting Hour of Code events at Boston Public Schools and beyond. We’re thrilled to see our neighbors committed to the future of education, honoring the importance of computer science for all.

A look at local celebrations of CSEdWeek:

Find out more about #hourofcode here: hourofcode.com/us.

Innovation Reigns at the 2016 MassChallenge Awards

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Photo: MassChallenge

Each year, we’re thrilled to support MassChallenge, the most startup-friendly accelerator on the planet, as it gathers its 128-startup cohort and cultivates support and collaboration throughout the startup ecosystem. This year, we supported five Civic Innovation Scholars, and watched with excitement as these startups — and their peers — worked to create great things in the startup community.

Last Wednesday, leaders, supporters, and fans of the startup community joined MassChallenge for its final awards ceremony of 2016, where over $1 million were awarded to the top startups in this year’s cohort. This year’s winners can be found here.

We’d like to extend our sincerest thanks to MassChallenge for including us in such a wonderful venture — we can’t wait to work with the 2017 cohort!

Some of the top tweets from this year’s MassChallenge Awards (#MCAwards16):

Boston as the Model of Innovation – Again!

Photo: AOB Photo

Panelists: Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Tech & Civic Engagement Group, and Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston. Photo: AOB Photo

Last Thursday, the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation (ITIF) and Boston University hosted an event in Washington DC on “The Cities of Tomorrow” which highlighted Boston’s innovation in strategic approaches to and execution of smart cities activities. The panel discussion featured Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, and Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF, and was moderated by me.

It was a robust discussion on topics like implementation processes for new smart city technologies, how to scale solutions within and among cities, approaches to inclusive design, policies around security and privacy, and models for public private partnerships.

Panelists: Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF, and Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Tech & Civic Engagement Group. Photo: AOB Photo

Panelists: Elizabeth Grossman, Microsoft Tech & Civic Engagement Group, Lauren Lockwood, Chief Digital Officer for the City of Boston, Azer Bestavros, Professor of Computer Science at Boston University, Daniel Castro, Vice President at ITIF. Photo: AOB Photo

The audience, including representatives from Congress, agencies, think tanks, universities, and companies, heard about individual smart cities projects underway in Boston and elsewhere. At a broader level, the panel also discussed how cities like Boston are developing new programs and capacities to efficiently and inclusively identify how emerging digital capabilities can serve citizens, strengthen communities, and enable economic development. Lauren described the approach to the recent redesign of the Boston.gov website, including how the process built in accessibility and how it is being open sourced to enable others to examine and build on the Boston team’s learnings. The panel highlighted the range of new data sources being created about cities by public and private organizations, and Azer described BU’s Data Mechanics course where students are learning and sharing how to work with and gather insights from such data.

These are just a few examples from the conversation; you can see the video recording of the full discussion here.

Developers Experienced Innovation in Action at New England Beyond //build Event

Microsoft’s Beyond //build event hosted at the brand new Burlington office, bringing Microsoft’s latest developer news to local area developers

Microsoft’s Beyond //build event hosted at the brand new Burlington office, bringing Microsoft’s latest developer news to local area developers

We recently opened the brand-new Microsoft Technology Center (MTC) facility in Burlington, underscoring Microsoft’s continued commitment to driving technology advances that benefit the broader Boston-area business community. As one of more than 40 such centers around the world, the Burlington MTC provides a collaborative environment where commercial and public sector organizations alike can come together to explore and experience innovative new technologies and learn how to put them into action.

To showcase the new facility and bring the local business community together, Microsoft hosted a Beyond //build event on Oct. 4. More than 100 developers, architects and technology enthusiasts converged at the Burlington MTC for the one-day event, which featured some of the “best of” innovations from //build, provided an insider’s view to some of the hottest innovations that have arisen since spring, and showed off what’s next for cloud development.

Microsoft’s Partner Director of Program Management John Montgomery keynoted the event, sharing Microsoft’s overall developer story Microsoft’s Partner Director of Program Management John Montgomery keynoted the event, sharing Microsoft’s overall developer story

In a compelling keynote, Microsoft Partner Director of Program Management John Montgomery talked about Microsoft’s commitment to creating open and flexible solutions that support any developer, any app and any platform. He walked attendees through some of the most significant transformations in Microsoft technology that are enabling developers to do things they’ve never been able to do before.

“With Microsoft’s intelligent Azure cloud, powerful data platform and flexible developer tools, it is easier than ever to design, build and manage breakthrough apps that work across platforms and devices,” said Montgomery.

From the power of SQL Server to the cutting-edge AI features in Cortana Intelligence, Montgomery explained how Microsoft is making it much easier for developers to create intelligent, predictive apps that surprise and delight customers.

Next came the deep-dive sessions that let developers experience how to put Microsoft’s innovative technologies to work:

  • Technology architect Timothy Baggs from the Microsoft Technology Center in Cambridge led a demo-heavy session framed around the latest Microsoft AI technologies. Developers experienced how Microsoft Cognitive Services and machine learning can expand Cortana’s understanding of the world, and also learned how to use the Microsoft Bot Framework and Bot Builder to build their own bots that connect meaningfully with users using natural language processing and deep learning. Baggs also dove into the Universal App Model and demonstrated code that runs apps on Xbox, Windows and HoloLens.
  • Rich Ross, an architect at the Microsoft Technology Center in Philadelphia, guided attendees through the key steps for developing hyper-scale and mobile applications using the power of Azure App Service. He showed ways developers can use Microsoft Cognitive Services to interact with users in a natural way, as well as how to integrate computer vision, face recognition and speech processing into their web, mobile and desktop applications. Developers also came away with a deeper understanding of how the Azure Service Fabric and built-in programming models can help them build and manage applications at scale.
  • Microsoft developer experience expert Chris Bowen took attendees on a deep dive into DevOps. They learned how building a thriving DevOps culture can break down the barriers (and sometimes conflicting priorities) between development and operations teams. Using Team Services and Azure as a backdrop, Bowen demonstrated how DevOps can fuel the ongoing creation of innovative applications that accelerate the transformation of their business.
Microsoft developer experience expert Chris Bowen took attendees on a deep dive into DevOps.

Microsoft developer experience expert Chris Bowen took attendees on a deep dive into DevOps.

Overall, the event showcased just one of the many ways the new Burlington MTC serves the regional community.

If you missed out, it’s not too late to join in on the learning experience. We invite you to come and experience the many ways the Burlington MTC can help you find the right solutions to transform your business in a mobile-first, cloud-first world.

Our beautiful new state-of- the-art facility provides a collaborative environment where you can lay hands on the latest technologies and meet with Microsoft experts who can guide and inspire you. The facility is equipped with an Envisioning Center, an Interactive Center and a Device Bar as well as a few briefing rooms. Our expert staff will show you the latest in Microsoft and partner solutions and guide you through anything from optimizing your investments in Microsoft software to planning a right-sized move to the cloud. We’ll work with you to envision how emerging technologies can help you innovate, find new customers, expand into new markets and build a successful future for your organization.

We hope to see you soon at our new Boston MTC!

Microsoft New England MTC
5 Wayside Road 
Burlington, Mass. 01803

19th Annual MassTLC Leadership Awards Gala Honors Boston’s Best

masstlc-awards_logo2Last week, we were honored to join the Mass Technology Leadership Council (MassTLC) at the 19th annual MassTLC Leadership Awards Gala at Boston’s Seaport World Trade Center. This night recognized Massachusetts’ leaders and newcomers in the innovation economy, in the company of hundreds of top tech executives, community leaders, and more.

After highlighting the winners of 16 separate impact categories, from Emerging Executive of the Year to Best Use of Internet of Things to Innovative Technology, the awards shifted to more individual honors. The MassTLC Distinguished Leadership Award, honored to individuals growing, changing, and inspiring lives through developing and promoting technology in the region, was awarded to the following leaders:

Want to join these Distinguished Leaders in transforming your community?

Join New Urban Mechanics in igniting Boston’s public spaces at the Public Space Invitational (or create your own!). Follow Vicky Wu Davis’ footsteps and volunteer to support YouthCITIES’ March-to-May Bootcamp or recommend the program to a teen near you. Nominate a nonprofit for Resilient Coders’ Resilient Rebuild, which will (re)build a website for a non-profit organization for free. Consider how you’re promoting diversity in your company like Akamai does, and seek companies who want to take real action to drive diversity. Or… enact your own idea to make direct change.

Congratulations to all the winners!

Missed out on the gala? Catch up below with some of the top tweets from the night:

Recap: Public Sector Leaders Forum on Technology & Citizen Engagement

Photo/Reba Saldanha Civic Innovations public sector leaders forum at Microsoft New England in Cambridge, MA August 22, 2016.

Last week, we joined the Civic Innovation Project for a Public Sector Leaders Forum focused on Technology and Citizen Engagement at Microsoft New England R&D Center. With guest speakers Senator Sonia Chang-Diaz, Katie Stebbins, Zinelle October, Pratt N. Wiley, Howard Lim, Aaron Myran, Lourdes German, and Cathy Wissink, we spent the night discussing ways technology is helping us think differently about civic engagement.

Thank you to all who participated and took the time to present new ideas. See below for a recap of the night, told in tweets:

Congratulations to the Girls Who Code Class of 2016!

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“We’re in the midst of redefining the way we live, and tech is a big driver of that. You need to be a part of that.”

That’s what Terrell Cox, Partner GPM for Intune Device Experiences and General Manager for Microsoft New England Research and Development Center, told 40 bright young girls last week. Together with Twitter Boston, we were honored to celebrate yet another graduating class of Girls Who Code’s Summer Immersion Program. Every year at Microsoft New England, we join tech companies around the world in hosting girls aged 15-17 for two months, sponsored by Microsoft Philanthropies. Over the course of the program, Girls Who Code students learn multiple coding languages, are exposed to professionals in the field, and encouraged to #MakeWhatsNext.

This summer, we were happy to offer our students many field trips, such as days to Museum of Fine Arts #TechStyle Exhibit with Private Presentation by Curator, Museum of Science Exhibits & Planetarium Show, Microsoft Envisioning Center, and a Miss Representation movie screening with Microsoft panel discussion.

Last night was a celebration of what all of these events over the past seven weeks brought to the table. Each guest speaker — including student keynotes Marlika Marceau (Microsoft) and Shreya Chowdhary (Twitter) — explained why the opportunities each girl accessed this summer are steps to changing the world, and showed why programs like Girls Who Code are so important to encourage women in tech.

Microsoft keynote speaker Terrell Cox explained that the most effective solutions come from diverse, equal teams, expressing her hopes that the girls want more than “just a taste” of coding. She left us all with parting advice: “Learn more. Seek out new challenges. Be that engineer. Be the change you wish to see in the world.”

And Twitter Boston’s guest speaker, Rich Paret, Senior Director, Software Engineering, continued Cox’s call to action. After calling for a group retrospective, asking the girls if they had fun, made things, collaborated, solved a problem, and overcame a challenge, he instructed the girls to “Make stuff. Tell people about it. Share your experiences. Repeat forever.”

The students then took the stage themselves, proving exactly why Paret and Cox are so confident that these girls will change the world. Twelve different groups presented their summer projects, which consisted of websites and apps geared toward a variety of social problems, from campus sexual assault to gender stereotypes to water conservation and even preventing “spoilers” in pop culture. It’s clear that these girls know what needs are important, and their drive to solve these problems reminds us why STEM education is a priority.

After their pitches, we celebrated our Girls Who Code with certificates of achievement, wrapping up the night with one last surprise as Microsoft program manager Anissa Battaglino and Twitter program manager Tali Sason announced to all a donation of the Surface devices they have been using these past weeks to each student and each of the three teachers to help to continue their coding work.  

A big thank you to all who helped make this Girls Who Code Summer Immersion Program possible, including our mentors, guest speakers, and MTC employees. We can’t wait to celebrate again next summer!