The Earth is warming. The extent and the effect of this change is experienced differently across the planet, but there is much work to be done before we understand it. Dr. Joseph Cook, a Microsoft AI for Earth grant recipient, and his team are looking into some of the toughest questions around climate change — why are things heating up the way they are? What, if anything, can be done about glacial melting?
Microsoft On The Issues offers perspectives from Microsoft on legal, public policy and citizenship topics. Microsoft passionately believes in the power and potential of technology, and that the right tech policies can help underpin innovation, encourage competition and ensure tech innovations continue to benefit everyone. Microsoft shares their point of view and ideas on topics as diverse as privacy, cybersecurity, intellectual property, environmental sustainability, education and corporate citizenship. Learn more at Microsoft On The Issues.
There are close to 7,000 languages spoken around the world today. Yet, sadly, every two weeks a language dies with its last speaker, and it is predicted that between 50% and 90% of endangered languages will disappear by next century. When a community loses a language, it loses its connection to the past – and part of its present. It loses a piece of its identity. As Microsoft thinks about protecting this heritage and the importance of preserving language, it believes that new technology can help.
For the past 14 years, Microsoft has been collaborating with te reo Māori experts and Te Taura Whiri i te Reo Māori (the Māori Language Commission) to weave te reo Māori into the technology that thousands of Kiwis use every day with the goal of ensuring it remains a living language with a strong future. The collaboration has already resulted in translations of Minecraft educational resources and it recently commissioned a game immersed entirely in the traditional Māori world, Ngā Motu (The Islands).
The Paris Call for Trust and Security in Cyberspace launched in 2018 with the commitment of signatories to stand up to cyber threats like election interference, attacks on critical infrastructure, and supply chain vulnerabilities. Last week, on the first anniversary of the call, the number of signatories has nearly tripled to more than 1,000 and now includes 74 nations; more than 350 international, civil society and public sector organizations; and more than 600 private sector entities. These commitments to the Paris Call from around the world demonstrate a widespread, global, multi-stakeholder consensus about acceptable behavior in cyberspace.
In 2012, the United States created the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA) program to protect these young people from being deported. Yet just five years later, the program was rescinded, putting close to 700,000 DACA recipients at risk of being banished from the only home they've ever known. More than five dozen of these DACA recipients at risk are Microsoft employees. These young people contribute to the company and serve its customers. They help create products, secure services, and manage finances. And like so many young people across our nation, they dream of making an honest living and a real difference in the communities in which they reside. Yet they now live in uncertainty.
Microsoft has told its Dreamers that it will stand up for them along with all the nation's DACA recipients. It will represent them in court and litigate on their behalf. That's why Microsoft joined Princeton University and Princeton student Maria De La Cruz Perales Sanchez to file one of the three cases challenging the DACA rescission that was heard on Nov. 12 by the United States Supreme Court.
We know the Earth is warming. But the extent and the effect of this change is not experienced uniformly across the planet. Parts of Canada, for example, are heating up at a level more than double the global average. The province of British Columbia has around 17,000 glaciers. They're releasing 22 billion cubic meters of water each year. Some scientists even predict that they could have disappeared completely by 2030. There is still much work to be done if we're to understand why this is happening.
One scientist is using AI and drone footage to understand the melting of the glaciers. Dr. Joseph Cook of Aberystwyth University in the United Kingdom, a Microsoft AI for Earth grant recipient, is a glaciologist specializing in the study of Arctic melting. The question of what can be done has yet to be addressed, and whether the melting can be halted and the ice reinstated is still unclear. But the first step towards developing solutions is to gain a detailed analysis of the extent of the problem and its causes, which is what Dr. Cook and his team are working towards.
Microsoft shared this week that the Microsoft Threat Intelligence Center tracked significant cyberattacks targeting anti-doping authorities and sporting organizations around the world. At least 16 national and international sporting and anti-doping organizations across three continents were targeted in these attacks which began September 16th, just before news reports about new potential action being taken by the World Anti-Doping Agency. Some of these attacks were successful, but the majority were not.
You can protect yourself from these types of attacks in at least three ways. We recommend, first, that you enable two-factor authentication on all business and personal email accounts. Second, learn how to spot phishing schemes and protect yourself from them. Third, enable security alerts about links and files from suspicious websites.
The Microsoft Airband Initiative is bridging the digital divide by bringing broadband connectivity to remote communities. One cost-effective method involves using TV White Spaces – the unused frequencies between the signals of existing TV channels, as shown above. Airband, the future of work and several other tech issues are discussed in Tools and Weapons, a book by Microsoft President Brad Smith and Carol Ann Browne. Read about it here.
Every day thousands of people legally cross back and forth between El Paso, Texas, and Ciudad Juárez, Mexico, on their way to jobs, schools, doctor's appointments, shopping centers and the homes of family and friends. This harmonious exchange has taken place for more than 400 years, uniting neighbors through shared social ties, geography, history and, most importantly, an interlinked economy.
Beyond the people and goods, El Paso and Ciudad Juárez also converge in a cross-border flow of ideas, ambition and aspirations that have shaped the region for centuries. This forward-looking spirit is what attracted Microsoft to the region in 2017, when it launched Microsoft TechSpark to create new economic opportunities and help digitally transform established industries with modern software and cloud services. It's also why Microsoft announced on Monday that it is expanding the TechSpark El Paso program to include Ciudad Juárez and making a $1.5 million investment in the binational Bridge Accelerator. Read more about the TechSpark announcement here.