Microsoft Azure will be used by government

Microsoft developed blockchain-based Azure Government Secret service specially for US government departments
18 October 2017   89836

American government agencies will soon be able to transfer data sets, including secret ones, to the Microsoft Azure platform. This is reported by CoinDesk.

The technology giant announced the launch of the Azure Government Secret service for enhanced access of government departments to cloud data stores. Thus, state clients of the company can get access to the Azure blockchain not only through the existing Government Cloud service, but also with the help of a new service.

Azure Government Secret service is developed only for US government departments, while the Government Cloud is already using 7,000 institutions and 10 million employees worldwide.

Initially, the Microsoft Azure blockchain platform was launched for experimental purposes of private clients. Now company offers the blockchain-tools in an isolated experimental environment developed by its partners, such as Chain, ConsenSys and Emercoin.

Over the past few years, private customers of Microsoft have used cloud technologies and new technological tools. At the same time, because of strict security rules, this possibility was limited for government departments.

In this regard, six data centers Microsoft is now "isolated" from the network. The US Department of Defense assigned them a tolerance level of 5. In addition, the state conducted additional certification in accordance with the rules of The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) and the Office of Defense Information Systems (DISA).

The U.S. government requires those data facilities to be operated by U.S. citizens with special clearance, and so the contractor we use meets that. 
 

Mark Russinovich
CTO, Microsoft Azure 

According to him, the developers of Azure Government Secret provided for the mechanism of expanded analytics and improved the mechanism of "detection" for processing sensitive data.

Blockchain makes it much harder for fraud and waste to exist, makes it much more visible if it does exist and potentially gets rid of a lot of layers of bureaucracy that are designed simply to ensure that waste and fraud [don't] exist. 
 

Mark Russinovich
CTO, Microsoft Azure 

Last year, the Office of General Accounting of the US government came to the conclusion that the executive and Congress are wasting billions of dollars because of imperfect bureaucracy. The US State Department last week said that blockchain technology will help solve this problem and increase the efficiency of agencies.

Russinovich noted that many organizations by order of the Congress are engaged in the purchase of humanitarian goods and their logistics in the hurricane-affected areas of the country, thus there are opportunities for fraud and theft. Transparency of blocking technology and consensus mechanisms, in his opinion, completely solve this problem.

Russinovich has not yet been able to confirm whether the government is using new services, but notes that the authorities are showing considerable interest in introducing technology into their information systems.

Microsoft to Use AI to Create Human Voice

Synthetic voice is nearly indistinguishable from recordings of people
27 September 2018   702

Researchers from Microsoft recorded computer voice, imitating human speech. To overcome the difficulties of the traditional model, they used neural networks for speech synthesis. Microsoft promises to provide support for 49 languages ​​and the ability to create unique voices for the needs of companies in the near future.

Synthesis of speech with the help of neural networks involves comparing the stress and length (so-called prosody) of the speaker's speech units, as well as their synthesis into a computer voice. In systems of traditional speech synthesis, prosody is divided into acoustic and linguistic analysis, controlled by various models. As a result, the speech is noisy and indistinct. Representatives of Microsoft argue that in the model of neural synthesis two stages are combined into one, so the voice sounds like a real one.

The developers are convinced that the synthesis of speech with the help of neural networks will make it more natural to communicate with virtual interlocutors and assistants. Moreover, it will enable you to convert e-books into audiobooks and will allow you to change the scoring of built-in navigators.

Microsoft Neural TTS
Microsoft Neural TTS

Azure computing power is available for real-time use, and Azure Kubernetes is responsible for this. Simultaneous application of neural synthesis of speech together with traditional speaks about expansion and increase of availability of service. At the moment, there are a female voice named Jessa and a man named Guy.

Microsoft is competing in speech recognition and synthesis technologies with Google, which updated its services in late August 2018. Google Cloud announced the release of a stable API for the synthesis of speech Cloud Text-to-Speech with the experimental function of audio profiles and support for several new languages.