• Microsoft to use AI to help people with disabilities

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    There’s a good article in Engadget about Microsoft’s push to use AI to help folks with disabilities — where you get to define a “disability.”

    Interview with Jenny Lay-Flurrie, Microsoft chief accessibility officer, who’s profoundly deaf.

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    • #191549

      From Endgadget Microsoft Build 2018,  “Satya Nadella closed Build’s day-one keynote not with coding demos but some remarks about humanity. The company plans to use artificial intelligence to help people with disabilities, he said, and will be investing $25 million in grants over five years.”


      But Satya Nadella cannot take an already developed resource… (Windows 7, 8.1, and 10) and issue a long term, stable, and supported edition? W10 is not it!

      For a multiple of reasons (ex- pain brain fog, developmental disability, dementia, various kinds of brain damage… and more) it is important to have things in the same place. That means everything from desktop icons to how to access various functions and programs within my OS need to be stable. Changing colors, position, other things, makes an OS inaccessible in terms of disability.

      In addition, some people are lucky enough to have someone come and help configure their computer for their particular needs. That might include special programs or apps. Some people pay for consultants to do that. An ‘update’ should not be messing that up… ie- those kinds of settings and programs should have a way to be easily locked in and protected. Microsoft does offer remote help for disabled users… for free… but I no longer trust Microsoft… and they earned that!

      Microsoft has had the ability to do this… provide a long term, stable OS (look at Enterprise)… and the true measure of their commitment to assisting the disabled community is not the public display of throwing money at a problem, but their unwillingness to consider these simple, already developed fixes that don’t fall in line with their business plan. We will throw dreamy Clouds your way… but will keep the stable, predictable system completely out of reach, at any price, for home users of a personal computer? (read with intense sarcasm)…

      For many disabled folk, their computer gives them access to the world at large… a world that they can’t otherwise reach… and an all in one ‘privacy off’ switch is essential. Despite Microsoft needing feedback from disabled users, involuntary telemetry is not okay. As computing becomes more efficient, development should include secure, localized, and private resources. There are other ways of finding out what works for disabled users than invasive, involuntary telemetry.

      So Satya Nadella, here is a challenge… stop handicapping your current product… it shouldn’t be saddled with unpredictable, unstable updating that disrespects user settings if you really intend to support the disabled community!

      Fundamental to dignity in coping with disability is personal choice.

      Non-techy Win 10 Pro and Linux Mint experimenter

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    • #191586

      This MS idea can be a boon to many people with poor health and physical problems that limit their ability to deal with the demands of daily life. However, the use of an AI is probably something for the long-term, when there will be home computers capable of running the AI software.

      With today’s technology, that software will have to run on a powerful server “in the Cloud”, where first the training of an AI to serve the needs of specific individuals, and later the actual monitoring of their medical conditions with that AI, will both need to be based on data sent from the users’ PCs, cell phones, etc. to the Cloud. And this raises obvious privacy concerns.

      For now, what looks both more feasible and acceptable to me is the kinds of changes to the user interface that can make life easier for people using existing PCs and phones. The bigger payoff for such users, in the short and mean terms, I think, will come from developing appropriate assisting software and hardware, where the latter can be in the form of external plug-ins or of internal components of ordinary PCs.

      Perhaps an approach less spectacular than Nadella’s AI, but probably much safer and well within the realm of possibilities.


      Ex-Windows user (Win. 98, XP, 7); since mid-2017 using also macOS. Presently on Monterey 12.15 & sometimes running also Linux (Mint).

      MacBook Pro circa mid-2015, 15" display, with 16GB 1600 GHz DDR3 RAM, 1 TB SSD, a Haswell architecture Intel CPU with 4 Cores and 8 Threads model i7-4870HQ @ 2.50GHz.
      Intel Iris Pro GPU with Built-in Bus, VRAM 1.5 GB, Display 2880 x 1800 Retina, 24-Bit color.
      macOS Monterey; browsers: Waterfox "Current", Vivaldi and (now and then) Chrome; security apps. Intego AV

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