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article imageMicrosoft announces new AI tools for digital transformation

By James Walker     Sep 26, 2017 in Technology
Microsoft has announced a comprehensive suite of new developer tools aimed to make it simpler to utilise AI and achieve digital transformation. The company has baked machine learning capabilities into several of its most important development platforms.
Digital transformation and artificial intelligence have been themes Microsoft's continually referred to during its Ignite conference in Orlando this week. The company said AI is "one of the most disruptive forces" enabling digital transformation in businesses. To help firms benefit from the tech, it's rolling out a set of software services and development tools "to bring AI to every developer."
The company's announcements reflect the reality of current AI development. Demand for the technology is growing but the number of programmers with expertise is relatively small. By making AI easier to work with, Microsoft hopes to lower the barrier for new developers getting started in the field. They'll go on to aid businesses as they digitally transform, giving Microsoft's tech a pathway into the disruptive projects it's so keen to be part of.
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Today's software reveals comprise four separate products that give developers and enterprises access to more powerful and yet simpler AI. These include AI "templates" for businesses that offer a way to quickly get started with common AI use cases. Scenarios available include predictive maintenance, fraud detection and social media campaign tools that can be deployed to Microsoft Azure servers.
Microsoft said the technology will help firms to explore how AI can assist their business. Companies can start evaluating the technology more quickly by using one of the templates on their existing Azure servers. The scenarios can run either in the cloud or on an on-premises network, giving firms flexibility to use AI in the way that suits their digital strategy.
"With these exciting updates, the Microsoft AI platform now offers comprehensive cloud-based, on-premises, and edge support – all the infrastructure, tools, frameworks, services and solutions needed for businesses to infuse artificial intelligence into their own products and services," Microsoft explained.
Microsoft is launching new AI development tools to help businesses get started with the tech
Microsoft is launching new AI development tools to help businesses get started with the tech
Microsoft
For companies looking for a more tailored solution, Microsoft's integrating AI right into its development tools. Visual Studio Code, the company's lightweight programming software, is getting built-in support for common deep learning frameworks and machine learning models on both Windows and Mac.
Microsoft's also announced the "next generation" of machine learning utilities for Azure. Amongst other capabilities, they allow developers to inspect AI models, monitor their operation and effectively manage datasets and test environments. The rate of experimentation is therefore sped up.
Microsoft said its AI platform is already being used in a diverse range of applications. It said the tech has found use in "unexpected" businesses and environments, including with the Snow Leopard Trust in the remote Himalayas.
Microsoft is launching new AI development tools to help businesses get started with the tech
Microsoft is launching new AI development tools to help businesses get started with the tech
Microsoft
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The Trust is employing AI to help it monitor and protect snow leopards, utilising Azure machine learning capabilities to automate its image classification procedures. According to Snow Leopard Trust Board President Rhetick Sengupta, the model "helps us combine years of data into an organized and complete source… this frees up our scientists to spend more time on science and conservation."
As Microsoft makes AI more accessible, it hopes the tech will see even more use. Whether it's in the workplace or in the wildest regions of the Himalayas, AI has the potential to transform existing processes. That's only when developers are able to utilise its power though, an issue that could become the biggest impediment to AI growth.
More about Microsoft, Artificial intelligence, Ai, digital transformation, machine learning
 
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