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Microsoft

Microsoft Patents A User-Monitoring AI That Improves Search Results (hothardware.com) 68

Slashdot reader MojoKid quotes a HotHardware article about Microsoft's new patent filing for an OS "mediation component": This is Microsoft's all-seeing-eye that monitors all textual input within apps to intelligently decipher what the user is trying to accomplish. All of this information could be gathered from apps like Word, Skype, or even Notepad by the Mediator and processed. So when the user goes to, for example, the Edge web browser to further research a topic, those contextual concepts are automatically fed into a search query.

The search engine (e.g., Bing and Cortana) uses contextual rankers to adjust the ranking of the default suggested queries to produce more relevant [results]. The operating system...tracks all textual data displayed to the user by any application, and then performs clustering to determine the user intent (contextually).

The article argues this feels "creepy and big brother-esque," and while Microsoft talks of defining a "task continuum," suggests the patent's process "would in essence keep track of everything you type and interact with in the OS and stockpile it in real-time to data-dump into Bing."

Comment Re:Seems reasonable to sell a product (Score 1) 238

Many products do have a label indicating that you can, in the event you're not completely satisfied, return any unused portion for a full refund. Those are usually products worth purchasing. Many jurisdictions offer such consumer protection regardless of the label. It's worth finding out if you're paying taxes to support such an endeavor.
Communications

Twitter Is Working On Anti-Harassment Keyword Filtering Tool, Says Report (bloomberg.com) 204

Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey has made it a top priority for company to limit hateful conduct. In late December 2015, for example, the company changed its rules to explicitly ban "hateful conduct" for the first time. A new report says Twitter is working to further curb the rise of hateful conduct as it is "working on a keyword-based tool that will let people filter the posts they see, giving users a more effective way to block out harassing and offensive tweets." Bloomberg reports: "The San Francisco-based company has been discussing how to implement the tool for about a year as it seeks to stem abuse on the site, said the people [familiar with the matter], who asked not to be identified because the initiative isn't public. By using keywords, users could block swear words or racial slurs, for example, to screen out offenders. The filtering tool could eventually become a moderator for any kind of content, the people said. For example, users could block a hashtag about an event they don't care to read about."
Databases

FBI Can Access Hundreds of Millions of Face Recognition Photos (eff.org) 97

An anonymous reader writes from a report via EFF: The federal Government Accountability Office published a report on the FBI's face recognition capabilities that says the FBI has access to hundreds of millions of photos. According to the GAO report, the FBI's Facial Analysis, Comparison, and Evaluation (FACE) Services unit not only has access to the FBI's Next Generation Identification (NGI) face recognition database of nearly 30 million civil and criminal mug shot photos, but it also has access to the State Department's Visa and Passport databases, the Defense Department's biometric database, and the drivers license databases of at least 16 states. This totals 411.9 million images, most of which are Americans and foreigners who have committed no crimes. In May, it was reported that the FBI is keeping information contained in the NGI database private and unavailable. It argues in a proposal that the database should be exempt from the Privacy Act.

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