Using tech to save lives🚑[HTC #56]
Welcome to the 56th edition of Hold the Code! In this week’s edition, we cover a new partnership between OpenAI and Microsoft as well as a new form of water! Lastly, we examine how AI is being used aid in Earthquake response. As as always, happy reading!
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AI Office Tools
Image Source: SiliconAngle
After weeks of speculation on the nature of their business deal, Microsoft and OpenAI have announced a new partnership that may forever change the way Microsoft Office tools are used. Integrating OpenAI’s most recent technologies, Microsoft plans to drastically change its service offerings, including Bing, Edge, and MS Office tools.
What Microsoft brings to the table:
Critical to the success of recent innovations in AI technology is the computing ability and data storage efficiency offered by cloud infrastructure services. Microsoft’s Azure cloud storage platform, which competes with Amazon Web Services (AWS) and Google Cloud, allows it to fine-tune its approach towards data crunching for large AI models. Earlier this year, Microsoft announced plans to integrate OpenAI into a greater variety of its tools, including PowerPoint and Excel.
CEO Satya Nadella has made it clear that their development of an AI-powered Bing search engine would compete with Google to try to evenly distribute search engine market share. In an interview with The Verge, Nadella noted his admiration for Google while also making clear his competitive spirit, explaining “with our innovation, they will definitely want to… show that they can dance. And I want people to know that we made them dance.”
Of course, not all comments on the recent partnership have been positive. Microsoft’s “AI-powered” Bing has garnered controversy for its occasionally hostile responses to queries. Elon Musk, who co-founded OpenAI but is no longer associated with the company, wrote that the company has become “closed source [and] maximum profit,” adding that the partnership is “not what I intended at all.”
Will a New Form of Ice Reveal Water's Secrets?
Generated using DALL-E
Water is weird. Most liquids become denser upon cooling. On the other hand, water becomes denser as it approaches 4°C, and loses density as it cools beyond that.
With the creation of a new form of ice, we could learn more about the unique properties of water.
Neutrally buoyant ice
Scientists believe that neutrally buoyant ice is a new form of amorphous ice, a type of ice that is different from normal, crystalline ice as its molecules aren’t arranged in a neat pattern. This isn’t a new concept, but with a new creation, scientists are optimistic that they will solve unknowns of water’s properties.
How was this made?
Chemist Christoph Salzmann of University College London was part of the team that made this creation. Through ball milling, a technique of cooling a container of ice and stainless steel balls to 77 Kelvins and shaking it, a new form of amorphous ice was produced.
“It was a sort of Friday-afternoon idea we had, to just give it a go and see what happens,” said Salzmann.
Computer simulations designed to mimic the effects of the ball milling demonstrated that amorphous ice could be produced by layers of ice sliding past each other in these conditions.
What could it tell us?
If this new form of ice is directly connected to its liquid state (not yet determined), we could learn more about water.
Water can remain liquid at temperatures below freezing, due to its supercooled liquid behavior. Under these circumstances, water exists in two different phases: high-density and low-density liquid.
Salzmann says that the new ice could be a special form of water – glass, which is made through cooling liquid fast enough that molecules can’t reform into a crystal structure.
If this amorphous ice is indeed a glass state of water, Salzmann and other scientists would have to determine how it fits into the properties of water. Regardless, it could lead to advances in difficult-to-study realms of science.
Mapping Technology Aids Earthquake Response
Image Source: USA Today
Earlier this month, a devastatingly powerful earthquake struck the border region between Syria and Turkey, destroying infrastructure and killing nearly 50,000 people. In the aftermath of the disaster, mapping technology played a crucial role in helping responders assess the extent of the damage, identify areas in need of assistance, and coordinate relief efforts.
A bird’s eye view
A key way that mapping technology has been used is through drone and satellite imagery. Drones have allowed people to obtain a real-time bird’s eye view of the area, providing information about the structural integrity of buildings and indicating which paths are safest to travel. These images have also been used to identify signs of life in the debris or pinpoint unsearched areas to direct rescue efforts.
A map to safety
At a higher level, satellite imaging has been a tremendous asset in the disaster mitigation effort. Not long after the earthquake struck, Copernicus, the EU’s environmental observation program, was deployed to combine data analytics and satellite images to generate new maps of the affected region. These maps have allowed for identification of blocked roads, collapsed buildings, and where people are likely to be trapped. The technology is able to create new maps in about two days and has been updating its maps regularly to provide responders with invaluable information about the changing landscape.
The future of disaster response
Mapping technology has been critical in the response to the Syria-Turkey earthquake, allowing for rapid damage assessment and expediting the response effort. As this technology continues to advance, we can expect it to play an even greater role in disaster response and recovery efforts.
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