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C3.ai, Microsoft, and leading universities launch C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute – Stories

C3.ai, Microsoft, the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign; the University of California, Berkeley; Princeton University; the University of Chicago; the Massachusetts Institute of Technology; and Carnegie Mellon University form the new C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute

First call for proposals published – AI Techniques to Mitigate Pandemic

Institute to accelerate AI innovation among scientific communities to bring greater advocacy, invention, collaboration, and academic rigor to scaling digital transformation

Redwood City, CA; Redmond, WA; Urbana-Champaign, IL; Berkeley, CA; Princeton, NJ; Chicago, IL, Cambridge, MA; and Pittsburgh, PA. —(BUSINESS WIRE)— March 26, 2020 – C3.ai, Microsoft Corp., the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC), the University of California, Berkeley, Princeton University, the University of Chicago, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, Lawrence Berkeley National Laboratory, and the National Center for Supercomputing Applications at UIUC announced two major initiatives:

  • C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute (C3.ai DTI), a research consortium dedicated to accelerating the application of artificial intelligence to speed the pace of digital transformation in business, government, and society. Jointly managed by UC Berkeley and UIUC, C3.ai DTI will sponsor and fund world-leading scientists in a coordinated effort to advance the digital transformation of business, government, and society.
  • C3.ai DTI First Call for Research Proposals: C3.ai DTI invites scholars, developers, and researchers, to embrace the challenge of abating COVID-19 and advance the knowledge, science, and technologies for mitigating future pandemics using AI. This is the first in what will be a series of bi-annual calls for Digital Transformation research proposals.

“The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute is a consortium of leading scientists, researchers, innovators, and executives from academia and industry, joining forces to accelerate the social and economic benefits of digital transformation,” said Thomas M. Siebel, CEO of C3.ai. “We have the opportunity through public-private partnership to change the course of a global pandemic,” Siebel continued. “I cannot imagine a more important use of AI.”

Immediate Call for Proposals: AI Techniques to Mitigate Pandemic

 Topics for Research Awards may include but are not limited to the following:

  1. Applying machine learning and other AI methods to mitigate the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic
  2. Genome-specific COVID-19 medical protocols, including precision medicine of host responses
  3. Biomedical informatics methods for drug design and repurposing
  4. Design and sharing of clinical trials for collecting data on medications, therapies, and interventions
  5. Modeling, simulation, and prediction for understanding COVID-19 propagation and efficacy of interventions
  6. Logistics and optimization analysis for design of public health strategies and interventions
  7. Rigorous approaches to designing sampling and testing strategies
  8. Data analytics for COVID-19 research harnessing private and sensitive data
  9. Improving societal resilience in response to the spread of the COVID-19 pandemic
  10. Broader efforts in biomedicine, infectious disease modeling, response logistics and optimization, public health efforts, tools, and methodologies around the containment of rising infectious diseases and response to pandemics, so as to be better prepared for future infectious diseases

The first call for proposals is open now, with a deadline of May 1, 2020. Researchers are invited to learn more about C3.ai DTI and how to submit their proposals for consideration at C3DTI.ai. Selected proposals will be announced by June 1, 2020.

Up to $5.8 million in awards will be funded from this first call, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 each. In addition to cash awards, C3.aiDTI recipients will be provided with significant cloud computing, supercomputing, data access, and AI software resources and technical support provided by Microsoft and C3.ai. This will include unlimited use of the C3 AI Suite and access to the Microsoft Azure cloud platform, and access to the Blue Waters supercomputer at the National Center for Super Computing Applications (NCSA) at UIUC and the NERSC Perlmutter supercomputer at Lawrence Berkeley Lab.

“We are collecting a massive amount of data about MERS, SARS, and now COVID-19,” said Condoleezza Rice, former US Secretary of State. “We have a unique opportunity before us to apply the new sciences of AI and digital transformation to learn from these data how we can better manage these phenomena and avert the worst outcomes for humanity,” Rice continued. “I can think of no work more important and no response more cogent and timely than this important public-private partnership.”

“We’re excited about the C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute and are happy to join on a shared mission to accelerate research at these eminent research institutions,” said Eric Horvitz, Chief Scientist at Microsoft and C3.ai DTI Advisory Board Member. “As we launch this exciting private-public partnership, we’re enthusiastic about aiming the broader goals of the Institute at urgent challenges with the COVID-19 pandemic, as well as on longer-term research that could help minimize future pandemics.”

“At UC Berkeley, we are thrilled to help co-lead this important endeavor to establish and advance the science of digital transformation at the nexus of machine learning, IoT, and cloud computing,” said Carol Christ, Chancellor, UC Berkeley. “We believe this Institute has the potential to make tremendous contributions by including ethics, new business models, and public policy to the technologies for transforming societal scale systems globally.”

“The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute, with its vision of cross-institutional and multi-disciplinary collaboration, represents an exciting model to help accelerate innovation in this important new field of study,” said Robert J. Jones, Chancellor of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. “At this time of a global health crisis, the Institute’s initial research focus will be on applying AI to mitigate the COVID-19 pandemic and to learn from it how to protect the world from future pandemics. C3.ai DTI is an important addition to the world’s fight against this disease and a powerful new resource in developing solutions to all societal challenges.”

“Together with the other C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute partners, we look forward to creating a powerful ecosystem of scholars and educators committed to applying 21st century technologies to the benefit of all,” said Chris Eisgruber, President of Princeton University. “This public-private partnership with innovators like C3.ai and Microsoft, providing support to world-class researchers across a range of disciplines, promises to bring rapid innovation to an exciting new frontier.”

“By strongly supporting multidisciplinary research and multi-institution projects, the C3.ai DTI represents a new avenue to develop breakthrough scientific results with a positive impact on society at a time of great need,” said Robert Zimmer, President of the University of Chicago: “I’m very pleased that the University of Chicago is part of this formidable collaboration between academia and industry to lead crucial innovation with great purpose and urgency.”

“The vision of C3.ai DTI is driven by the recognition of digital transformation as both a science as well as a scientific imperative for this pivotal time, applicable to every sector of our economy across the public and private sectors, including in healthcare, education, and public health,” said Farnam Jahanian, President of Carnegie Mellon University. “We are excited to participate in building out the Institute’s structure, program and further alliances. This is just the beginning of an ambitious journey that can have enormous positive impact on the world.”

“At MIT, we share the commitment of C3.ai DTI to advancing the frontiers of AI, cybersecurity and related fields while building into every inquiry a deep concern for ethics, privacy, equity and the public interest,” said Rafael Reif, President of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. “At this moment of national emergency, we are proud to be part of this intensive effort to apply these sophisticated tools to better analyze the COVID-19 epidemic and devise effective ways to stop it. We look forward to accelerating this work both by collaborating with the companies and institutions in the initiative, and by drawing on the frontline experience and clinical data of our colleagues in Boston’s world-class hospitals.”

Building Community
At the heart of C3.ai DTI will be the constant flow of new ideas and expertise provided by ongoing research, visiting professors and research scholars, and faculty and scholars in residence, many of whom will come from beyond the member institutions. This rich ecosystem will form the foundational structure of a new Science of Digital Transformation.

“This is about global innovation based on multinational collaboration to accelerate the positive impact of AI by providing researchers access to real world data and to massive resources,” said Jim Snabe, Chairman, Siemens. “This is exactly the kind of multinational public-private partnership that is required to address this critical issue.”

“I could not be more proud of our association with C3.ai and Microsoft,” said Lorenzo Simonelli, CEO of Baker Hughes. “This is exactly the kind of leadership that is required to bring together the best of us to address this critical need.”

“We are at war and we must win it! Using all means,” said Jacques Attali, French statesman. “This great project will organize global scientific collaboration for accelerating the social impact of AI, and help to win this war, using new weapons, for the best of mankind.”

“In these difficult times, we need – now more than ever – to join our forces with scholars, innovators, and industry experts to propose solutions to complex problems. I am convinced that digital, data science and AI are a key answer,” said Gwenaëlle Avice-Huet, Executive Vice President of ENGIE. “The C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute is a perfect example of what we can do together to make the world better.”

Establishing the New Science of Digital Transformation
C3.ai DTI will focus its research on AI, Machine Learning, IoT, Big Data Analytics, human factors, organizational behavior, ethics, and public policy. The Institute will support the development of ML algorithms, data security, and cybersecurity techniques. C3.ai DTI research will analyze new business operation models, develop methods of implementing organizational change management and protecting privacy, and amplify the dialogue around the ethics and public policy of AI.

C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute is a Research Initiative that Includes:

  • Research Awards: Up to 26 cash awards annually, ranging from $100,000 to $500,000 each
  • Computing Resources: Access to free Azure Cloud and C3 AI Suite resources
  • Visiting Professors & Research Scientists: $750,000 per year to support C3.ai DTI Visiting Scholars
  • Curriculum Development: Annual awards to faculty at member institutions to develop curricula that teach the emerging field of Digital Transformation Science
  • Data Analytics Platform: ai DTI will host an elastic cloud, big data, development, and operating platform, including the C3 AI Suite hosted on Microsoft Azure for the purpose of supporting C3.ai DTI research, curriculum development, and teaching
  • Educational Program: $750,000 a year to support an annual conference, annual report, newsletters, published research, and website
  • Industry Alignment: C3DTI Industry Partners will be established to assure the institute’s operations are aligned to the needs of the private sector.
  • Open Source: ai DTI will strongly favor proposals that promise to publish their research in the public domain.

To support the Institute, C3.ai will provide C3.ai DTI $57,250,000 in cash contributions over the first five years of operation. C3.ai and Microsoft will contribute an additional $310 million in-kind, including use of the C3 AI Suite and Microsoft Azure computing, storage, and technical resources to support C3.ai DTI research.

To learn more about C3.ai DTI’s program, award opportunities, and call for proposals, please visit C3DTI.ai.

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About C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute
C3.ai Digital Transformation Institute represents an innovative vision to take AI, ML, IoT, and big data research in a consortium model to a level that cannot be achieved at any one institution alone. Jointly managed and hosted by the University of California, Berkeley and the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, C3.ai DTI will attract the world’s leading scientists to join in a coordinated and innovative effort to advance the digital transformation of business, government, and society, and establish the new Science of the Digital Transformation of Societal Systems.

About C3.ai
C3.ai is a leading AI software provider for accelerating digital transformation. C3.ai delivers the C3 AI Suite for developing, deploying, and operating large-scale AI, predictive analytics, and IoT applications in addition to an increasingly broad portfolio of turn-key AI applications. The core of the C3.ai offering is a revolutionary, model-driven AI architecture that dramatically enhances data science and application development. Learn more at: www.c3.ai.

C3.ai Contact:
April Marks
Director of Public Relations
917-574-5512
[email protected]

About Microsoft
Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

Microsoft Contact
Microsoft Media Relations:
WE Communications for Microsoft
425-638-7777
[email protected]

About University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign
The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign is a public land-grant research university founded in 1867 and dedicated to building upon a tradition of excellence in education, research, public engagement and economic development. The university pioneers innovative research that tackles global problems and expands the human experience. Illinois faculty, staff and alumni have been leading the way in digital transformation from the invention of the transistor to the birth of the graphical internet browser to high performance computing to the new revolution in data sciences and analytics.

UIUC Contact:
Robin Kale
Associate Chancellor for Public Affairs
[email protected]
217-333-5050

About University of California, Berkeley
The University of California, Berkeley is a public research university. Founded in 1868, UC Berkeley is a place where the brightest minds from across the globe come together to explore, ask questions and improve the world.

University of California, Berkeley Contact:
Sarah Yang
Assistant Dean, Marketing & Communications
Berkeley Engineering
[email protected]

About Princeton University
Princeton University is a vibrant community of teaching and research that stands in the nation’s service and the service of humanity. Chartered in 1746, Princeton is the fourth-oldest college in the United States. Princeton is an independent, coeducational, nondenominational institution that provides undergraduate and graduate instruction in the arts and humanities, social sciences, natural sciences, and engineering.

Princeton University Contact:
Ben Chang, Deputy Vice President, Communications
[email protected]

About University of Chicago
The University of Chicago is a leading academic and research institution that has driven new ways of thinking since its founding in 1890. As an intellectual destination, the University draws scholars and students from around the world to its campuses and centers around the globe. The University provides a distinctive educational experience and research environment, empowering individuals to challenge conventional thinking and pursue field-defining research that produces new understanding and breakthroughs with global impact.

University of Chicago Contact:
Rob Mitchum
Associate Director of Communications for Data Science and Computing
University of Chicago
[email protected]
773-484-9890

About Massachusetts Institute of Technology
The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) is a private research university located in Cambridge, Massachusetts. MIT is devoted to the advancement of knowledge and education of students in areas that contribute to or prosper in an environment of science and technology.

MIT Contact:
Anne Stuart
Communications Officer in Electrical Engineering and Computer Science
[email protected]

About Carnegie Mellon University
Carnegie Mellon (cmu.edu) is a private, internationally ranked research university with programs in areas ranging from science, technology and business, to public policy, the humanities and the arts. More than 14,000 students in the university’s seven schools and colleges benefit from a small student-to-faculty ratio and an education characterized by its focus on creating and implementing solutions for real problems, interdisciplinary collaboration and innovation.

Carnegie Mellon University Contact:
Jason Maderer
Sr. Director, Media Relations
412.268.1151
[email protected]

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Author: Microsoft News Center

38 Things Added to Sea of Thieves Since Launch You Have to Try – Xbox Wire

A lot has changed in Sea of Thieves since Rare’s shared world pirate fantasy first set sail in March 2018. Thanks to a series of major content updates in the first year – including the game-changing Anniversary Update – and a recent commitment to regular monthly updates, the game has grown and evolved at a scale that few other service-based games can match. Even better, all content has been added for free!

To celebrate the game’s second anniversary, here are 38 of the biggest things that have been added over the past two years. If you’re yet to try the game or haven’t played for a while, be sure to jump in by trying it out with Xbox Game Pass or buying the game on the Microsoft Store or your local retailer. Sea of Thieves’ uniquely horizontal progression system means that you can set sail again at any time and not be at a disadvantage against other players.

1) Tall Tales
Tall Tales are Sea of Thieves’ unique take on a story-driven campaign, offering cinematic quests within the game’s emergent shared world. The first collection of stories, Shores of Gold, take players on an epic adventure in search of a lost island and magical treasure, while recent additions ‘The Seabound Soul’ and ‘Heart of Fire’ tell a whole new story. Available to solo players or crews of any size, there are eleven Tall Tales in total which should keep you occupied for up to 30 hours.

2) The Arena
Added as part of 2019’s mega Anniversary Update, The Arena is a standalone competitive game mode that lets crews battle it out in fixed-length contests described by Eurogamer as “glorious, consequence-free PvP carnage”. The Arena also features its own Trading Company – the Sea Dogs – with which you can earn reputation and rise in rank, together with its own social space and cosmetic rewards.

3) The Megalodon
The game’s first Megalodon – think Jaws on steroids – was added to the game in its first major content update, The Hungering Deep. This fearsome giant shark was an emergent threat that could attack ships at any time, with rewards for crews who could defeat it. It was later followed to the Sea of Thieves by many dangerous Megalodon variants, including rare species like the legendary Shrouded Ghost.

4) The Devil’s Roar
The Devil’s Roar is a wild and dangerous world region that was added to the game with the Forsaken Shores content update (wonderfully brought to life by actor and comedian Matt Berry). This world region is full of natural perils including volcanoes, lava, geysers and superheated water. So dangerous is The Devil’s Roar that its Ashen treasures deliver sizeable gold and reputation gains when cashed in.

5) Skeleton Ships
The introduction of Skeleton Ships in July 2018 changed the game by allowing players to engage in ship-to-ship combat outside of PvP. These fearsome sea-based threats can be found sailing beneath the ship-shaped cloud, and can burst from beneath the waves without warning to ambush unsuspecting pirates. Sink them and take their treasure!

6) Fog Providing the ‘Shrouded’ bit of November 2018’s Shrouded Spoils content update, fog brought both atmosphere and gameplay depth. Exploring islands in thick fog adds an additional layer of threat and complexity, while clever captains can use the swirling mists to hide their ships from other crews…

7) Maiden Voyage
The Maiden Voyage is a tutorial that goes the extra mile. Set just outside Sea of Thieves’ shared world, the Maiden Voyage is the perfect opportunity for new pirates to find their sea legs in a safe space. And while it’s perfect for new players wanting to learn how to play, it also offers plenty for more experienced players including a chance to meet the Pirate Lord himself and earn some exclusive cosmetics.

8) Fire
The addition of fire turned up the heat on players when it was added to the game last November. Fires can be started by firebombs, angry Chests of Rage or through less aggressive means, such as leaving food on the ship’s stove unattended. One thing’s for sure, fire had a huge impact on the game and proved that Alfred Pennyworth was right when he observed: “Some men just want to watch the world burn.”

9) Lots of lovely emergent loot
Back at launch, finding treasure could be a difficult business. But these days the Sea of Thieves is positively awash with loot, with Barrels of Plenty (floating barrels of bonus treasure), emergent Skeleton Captains, increased shipwreck loot, Mermaid Statues and their valuable gems, treasure maps in barrels, more washed-up treasure and rewards for defeating the Megalodon, Kraken and Skeleton Ships.

10) Fishing
People asked. And asked. And asked some more. So as part of the Anniversary Update, Rare added a huge fishing mechanic to the game that offers hours of distraction from epic adventuring. There are 10 main types of fish, each with their own variants, some of which can only be caught in specific world regions with the right bait and conditions. You can cook and eat fish to restore health, or cash them in with The Hunter’s Call Trading Company found at any Seapost. Sea of Thieves’ fishing was the highest-rated experience in PC Gamer’s article ‘Which PC game has the best fishing?’.

11) The Hunter’s Call Trading Company
Headed by the lovable Merrick (of The Hungering Deep fame), The Hunter’s Call is a Trading Company that rewards players for catching and cooking fish or meat. Unique among Trading Companies in that its representatives are located at Seaposts rather than Outposts, The Hunter’s Call offers a more leisurely path to Pirate Legend status.

12) Cargo Runs
Introduced to the game back in the Forsaken Shores update, Cargo Runs are a twist on the standard Merchant Alliance quest. Collect and deliver valuable cargo to various locations across the Sea of Thieves, both on time and in good condition, for a handsome payday.

13) Legends of the Sea
Sea of Thieves’ world has always contained Easter eggs that celebrate the stories of our most legendary players. Umbra’s sidequests, introduced in January 2020’s Legends of the Sea update, offer players the chance to earn Commendations and Doubloons for tracking down the stories behind these inspiring and entertaining player immortalisations.

14) Fort of the Damned
Raiding Skeleton Forts has always been an essential part of the Sea of Thieves experience, but the Fort of the Damned is a standout encounter. Released in time for Halloween 2019, this spooky Fort represents a major upgrade on the raid experience, both in terms of challenge and reward. Unlike other Forts, the Fort of the Damned can be activated on demand by crews who want to unlock its treasures again and again.

15) Gunpowder Skeletons
First came skeletons. Then skeletons with weapons (including snipers and cannoneers). But things got serious once the skeletons of the Sea of Thieves discovered that Gunpowder Barrels also make very effective weapons. Boom!

16) Stronghold Kegs
Available through raiding Forts, Stronghold Kegs are Gunpowder Barrels that make a really big bang (colloquially known as “mega-kegs”). These rare items command a high price from the Merchant Alliance, or they can be used as devastating weapons against all manner of enemies…

17) Reaper’s Chests
Reaper’s Chests are high-value chests found emergently in shipwrecks across the Sea of Thieves, and reveal their location through a mysterious beacon that rises up to the sky. But beware – once a Reaper’s Chest is recovered, other crews will be able to see on the map that you have this valuable reward and can hunt you down.

18) Pets
Every pirate needs an animal companion. The Pirate Emporium, added to the game in September 2019, brought with it a range of lovable pet parrots and monkeys, with more types still to come. Available in various breeds and colours, pets can also be dressed up in costumes for added hilarity. These furry and feathered sidekicks are an essential addition to any crew.

19) More than 100 new emotes
Emotes have always been a popular way for players to express themselves, but the addition of the Pirate Emporium has seen more than 100 new emotes added to the game. From the classic “we’re flying” emote inspired by a certain sea-based movie to the infamous “Crab Dab”, there’s something for every pirate and every situation.

20) Cursed Cannonballs
Introduced to the game as part of July 2018’s Cursed Sails update, Cursed Cannonballs are powerful weapons that can be found emergently in the world. Each of the eleven types of Cursed Cannonballs imparts a powerful, time-limited effect on an enemy, from making them dance to rendering their cannons impotent.

21) Cooking
Not only did the Anniversary Update bring fishing and hunting to the game, it brought cooking to legions of hungry pirates. Food can be cooked using the stove aboard every ship or at campfires. Once perfectly prepared, cooked food can be eaten to restore health or sold to The Hunter’s Call for a premium.

22) The Bilge Rats
The Bilge Rats are an unofficial Trading Company who arrived in Sea of Thieves in summer 2018. Dedicated to celebrating a pirate’s life of adventure outside the traditional Trading Companies, Duke and his motley crew give players a range of regular sidequests which can unlock additional rewards and cosmetics.

23) Alliances
Sometimes it can be Sea of Friends, thanks to the Alliance feature that lets two or more crews team up to improve the odds and share the rewards. Perfect for pirates looking to earn loot in a hurry, and a great way to meet other players and make friends.

24) Creator Crew
With its emphasis on player freedom and creativity, Sea of Thieves is a hugely watchable game. The Creator Crew is a programme which helps budding streamers and YouTubers get noticed, offering asset packs, opportunities to have work shared across official channels and ‘How To’ tutorials for improving content. What’s more, there’s also the chance to unlock exclusive cosmetic items by completing creator challenges. Go create and share your pirate stories!

25) Brigantines
Another feature that was introduced in the Cursed Sails update, the Brigantine is a ship type made for three players. More agile than a Galleon but boasting significantly more firepower than a Sloop, Brigantines soon became a player favourite.

26) Rowboats
Originally introduced in the Forsaken Shores update as a tool to deal with the superheated waters of the volcanic Devil’s Roar region, Rowboats are perfect for pirates looking to move around more loot than they can carry or sneak up on larger ships undetected. Racing them can also be fun!

27) The Harpoon
Every ship – and even some Rowboats – now come equipped with harpoon guns. These handy tools can be used in lots of ways, from plucking resources out of the water to making a sharp turn around an island. They can also be used to steal treasure from unsuspecting pirates in what has become known within the community as a ‘zoink’.

28) Doubloons and the Black Market
The arrival of the Bilge Rats on the Sea of Thieves also introduced a brand new currency which could be earned for completing time-limited events, a range of sidequests or by unlocking certain Commendations. Once earned, valuable Doubloons can be exchanged for rare cosmetics through the Black Market, or used to buy favour with the main Trading Companies and level up faster.

29) Seaposts
Dotted around the Sea of Thieves, Seaposts are mini-Outposts. They offer crews a great opportunity to stock up on resources, plus you’ll find traders who’ll sell a variety of cosmetics at a discount. Seaposts are also home to The Hunter’s Call, so they’re where you need to go to sell fish and meat.

30) Chest of Rage
Added recently in February 2020, the Chest of Rage is the latest Cursed Chest to be found within the game. These rare and valuable chests are filled with fury which vents itself regularly if not kept cool, making this a high-risk (but high-return) item which can also double up as a powerful weapon…

31) Collector’s Chests
Originally introduced as part of Tall Tales: Shores of Gold, Collector’s Chests – chests that can be opened and will hold whatever treasure you put in – have recently been added as rewards for solving riddle quests. What does that mean? More loot!

32). Tucking
Tucking, you say? What on earth is that? Let us explain. Pioneered by several high-profile streamers, ‘tucking’ in Sea of Thieves involves using emotes such as sleeping and sitting to hide aboard other players’ ships (the emote hides the gamertag above a player). Opening up a stealthy – not to mention hilarious – new way to play the game, tucking was officially recognised by the addition of a number of hide emotes to the Pirate Emporium (one of which is available to players for free).

33) Expanded ship customization
Having a cool-looking ship is one of the best parts of Sea of Thieves. Every pirate takes pride in how their vessel looks, plus a ship’s visibility from distance means that it’s your calling card in the world. Since the Shrouded Spoils expansion, players can now determine all elements of how their ship looks including the sails, figurehead, hull, capstan, cannons, wheel and flag. Get customising!

34) Skeleton variety
While the principal threat on land for pirates remains skeletal in nature, the threat has expanded through the addition of a number of skeleton variants – such as Gold, Plant, Shadow and Ashen – that each pose a different challenge. What’s more, you’ll also run into Skeleton Captains (and their crews) around the world, and may even encounter a fearsome Skeleton Lord…

35) Speaking Trumpet
The Speaking Trumpet is a handy tool for anyone looking to communicate with another crew. Kind of like a pirate-themed megaphone, the Speaking Trumpet amplifies the distance over which voice and text chat can be heard by other crews. Perfect for communicating with other ships without getting too close (just in case).

36) Throwable weapons
Throwable weapons offer more combat variety and come in two main flavours. Firebombs, as the name suggests, explode on impact and set fire to anything and anyone in the vicinity. Blunderbombs are closer in style to a grenade, dealing damage to (and knocking back) anyone in their blast radius.

37) Chainshot
Another new game feature added just this March, chainshot is a new ammo type that can be loaded into cannons and used to take down another ship’s mast. Bringing more tactical depth to ship-to-ship combat, there’s nothing more satisfying than felling another ship’s mast in a single shot.

38) Another 1200 gamerscore
Last but not least, the ever-expanding quantity of content in Sea of Thieves has also meant the addition of hundreds of new achievements and another 1200 gamerscore to play for (making a total of 2200 in all).

And there’s more! We haven’t even mentioned combat improvements, new musical instruments and more shanties to enjoy, hundreds of extra cosmetic items, a wealth of new Commendations or the countless ongoing quality of life improvements across all areas of the game. Visit the official Sea of Thieves website to see more about the latest updates, and for the latest on all things Xbox stay tuned to Xbox Wire.

See you on the seas!

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Keeping your cloud deployments secure during challenging times

As the world comes together to combat COVID-19, and remote work becomes a critical capability for many companies, customers have asked us how to best maintain the security posture of their cloud assets while enabling more remote workers to access them.

Misconfiguration of cloud security controls has been at the root of several recent data breaches, so it’s extremely important to continue monitoring your security posture as usage of cloud assets increases.

To help you prioritize the actions that you need to take, we are listing three common scenarios for remote workers and how to leverage Azure Security Center security controls to prioritize relevant recommendations for these scenarios:

1. As more users need to access resources remotely, you need to ensure that Multi-Factor Authentication (MFA) is enabled to enhance their identity protection.

  • Azure Security Center has a security control called Enable MFA, ideally you should remediate all recommendations that are part of this security control, as shown below:

image

2. Some users might need remote access via RDP or SSH to servers that are in your Azure infrastructure.

  • Instead of allowing full 24 x 7 access to those servers, ensure that you are using Just-In-Time (JIT) VM access to those servers. Make sure to review the Secure management ports control in Azure Security Center and remediate the recommendations that are relevant for this scenario.

image

3. Some of the workloads (servers, containers, databases) that will be accessed remotely by users might be missing critical security updates.

  • Review the Remediate vulnerabilities control in Azure Security Center to prioritize the updates that must be installed. Make sure to review the result of all recommendations in built-in vulnerability assessment and remediate those items.

image

Security posture management is an ongoing process. Review your secure score to understand your progress towards a fully compliant environment.

Users of Azure are likely just a portion of your user base. Below is additional guidance on enabling and securing remote work for the rest of your organization:

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Microsoft is expanding the Azure Stack Edge with NVIDIA GPU preview

We’re expanding the Microsoft Azure Stack Edge with NVIDIA T4 Tensor Core GPU preview during the GPU Technology Conference (GTC Digital). Azure Stack Edge is a cloud-managed appliance that brings Azure’s compute, storage, and machine learning capabilities to the edge for fast local analysis and insights. With the included NVIDIA GPU, you can bring hardware acceleration to a diverse set of machine learning (ML) workloads.

What’s new with Azure Stack Edge

At Mobile World Congress in November 2019, we announced a preview of the NVIDIA GPU version of Azure Stack Edge and we’ve seen incredible interest in the months that followed. Customers in industries including retail, manufacturing, and public safety are using Azure Stack Edge to bring Azure capabilities into the physical world and unlock scenarios such as the real-time processing of video powered by Azure Machine Learning.

These past few months, we’ve taken our customers’ feedback to make key improvements and are excited to make our preview available to even more customers today.

If you’re not already familiar with Azure Stack Edge, here are a few of the benefits:Azure Stack Edge Hi-Res

  • Azure Machine Learning: Build and train your model in the cloud, then deploy it to the edge for FPGA or GPU-accelerated inferencing.
  • Edge Compute: Run IoT, AI, and business applications in containers at your location. Use these to interact with your local systems, or to pre-process your data before it transfers to Azure.
  • Cloud Storage Gateway: Automatically transfer data between the local appliance and your Azure Storage account.  Azure Stack Edge caches the hottest data locally and speaks file and object protocols to your on-prem applications.
  • Azure-managed appliance: Easily order and manage Azure Stack Edge from the Azure Portal.  No initial capex fees; pay as you go, just like any other Azure service.

Enabling our partners to bring you world-class business applications

Equally important to bringing you a great device is enabling our partners to bring you innovative applications to meet your business needs.  We’d love to share some of the continued investment we’re making with partners to bring their exciting developments to you.malong_logo_e_l_h

As self-checkouts grow in prevalence, Malong Technologies is innovating in AI applications for loss prevention.

“For our customers in the retail industry, artificial intelligence innovation is happening at the edge,” said Matt Scott, co-founder and chief executive officer, Malong Technologies. “Along with our state-of-the-art solutions, our customers need hardware that is powerful, reliable, and custom-tailored for the cloud. Microsoft’s Azure Stack Edge fits the bill perfectly. We’re proud to be a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, working with Microsoft to help our retail customers succeed.”

Increasing your manufacturing organization’s quality inspection accuracy is key to Mariner’s Spyglass Visual Inspection application.

Mariner“Mariner has standardized on Microsoft’s Azure Stack Edge for our Spyglass Visual Inspection and Spyglass Connected Factory products. These solutions are mission critical to our manufacturing customers. Azure Stack Edge provides the performance, stability and availability they require.” – Phil Morris, CEO, Mariner

Building computer vision solutions to improve performance and safety in manufacturing and other industries is a key area of innovation for XXII.

“XXII is thrilled to be a Microsoft partner and we are working together to provide our clients with real time video analysis software on edge with the Azure Stack Edge box. With this solution, LOGO XXII _ NOIR _ SMALLAzure allow us to harvest the full potential of NVIDIA GPUs directly on edge and be able to provide our clients in retail, industry and smart city with smart video analysis that are easily deployable, scalable and easily manageable with Azure stack Edge.” – Souheil Hanoune, Chief Scientific Officer, XXII

More to come with Azure Stack Edge

NVIDIA4There are even more exciting developments with Azure Stack Edge coming. We’re putting the final touches on much-awaited new compute and AI capabilities including virtual machines, Kubernetes clusters, and multi-node support. Along with these new features announced at Ignite 2019, Data Box Edge was renamed Azure Stack Edge to align with the Azure Stack portfolio.

Our Rugged series for sites with harsh or remote environments is also coming this year, including the battery-powered form-factor that can be carried in a backpack. The versatility of these Azure Stack Edge form-factors and cloud-managed capabilities brings cloud intelligence and compute to retail stores, factory floors, hospitals, field operations, disaster zones, and rescue operations.

Get started with the Azure Stack Edge with NVIDIA GPU preview

Thank you for continuing to partner with us as we bring new capabilities to Azure Stack Edge. We’re looking forward to hearing from you.

  • To get started with the preview, please email us and we’ll follow up to learn more about your scenarios.
  • Learn more about Azure Stack Edge.

Learn more about Azure’s Hybrid Strategy

Read about more updates from Azure during NVIDIA’s GTC.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Learning from our customers in the Greater China Region

As so many organizations have shifted to remote work during COVID-19, we are hearing inspiring stories from customers discovering new ways to connect, collaborate, and keep business moving. From Sydney, Australia, to Seattle, Washington, schools, hospitals, small businesses, and large companies alike have found inventive ways to enable remote work across their organizations. We want to share what they are learning. Each week we will be spotlighting customers in one impacted region around the globe. First up: the Greater China Region. My colleague Lily Zheng in Shanghai is sharing stories for customers who, faced with extraordinary and difficult circumstances, have found innovative new ways to work.

Since we last heard from Lily and team, the region has begun to move into recovery mode. “Many businesses reopened, and more and more people have started going back to work,” Lily reports. “In the past two months, Teams has certainly played an important role in helping our customers pass through the most difficult time.” Looking ahead, she says: “Teams can play an even bigger role in helping our customers boost their productivity and increase their business resilience.” Here are some examples of how organizations in the Greater China Region kept things moving over the past few months.

Education

With travel bans and health concerns keeping students, faculty, and staff at home over the past months, schools and universities have experienced a crash course in moving to remote learning. In February, the Peking University Guanghua School of Management used Teams to hold a digital school-opening ceremony with thousands of students. Meanwhile, Tamkang University, a private university headquartered in New Taipei City, Taiwan, quickly enabled distance learning for students in China, Macau, and Hong Kong by leveraging Microsoft Teams and cloud resources on their iClass Mobile Learning Platform. A total of 637 students and 1,041 teachers were set up to use the platform in 2,366 classes. Hong Kong Polytechnic University is conducting 120 to 160 concurrent teaching sessions daily through Microsoft Teams, with 10,000 to 11,000 students connecting simultaneously during peak times. And Wellington College International Tianjin, quickly established a solid e-learning program where students have been able to continue their learning journey with lessons conducted over Microsoft Teams.

Healthcare

The healthcare industry has faced extraordinary pressure during COVID-19. We’ve all seen news stories about medical supply challenges, but these organizations have experienced challenges in the IT space, too, including a lack of video conferencing solutions and heavy dependency on manual patient data inputting. Staff at the largest hospital in WenZhou, China, 2nd Affiliated Hospital of WMU, for instance, were unable to communicate with personnel inside the quarantined area. They had never used Teams before, but quickly deployed it and were able to communicate with quarantined-area colleagues. The team at Zhongshan Hospital in Shanghai hadn’t used Teams before the outbreak either, but they put it to use to hold their first remote leadership meeting. “It only took a few days to get reports,” said Mr. Li, Chief of Information Management Center at Zhongshan Hospital, “and we were able to successfully hold our first leader’s meeting, which was well-received by the whole leadership team.”

Commercial

SF-Express is one of the best-known logistics companies in China. CIO Sheng Wang said, “Fortunately, we deployed Teams after we revamped our network branches [in] December of 2019. “It solves our needs for remote working, meeting, and training, and allows our staff to collaborate with high productivity.” DHL Supply Chain China also deployed Teams to handle its increasing remote collaboration needs.

The manufacturing industry has been hit hard by the impact of the outbreak, but also used it to discover new ways to digitally transform. Headquartered in Ningbo, China, Joyson Electronic has more than 100 bases in 30 countries and over 50,000 employees globally. “Microsoft Teams really helps Joyson improve our cross-regional and boundary collaboration productivity during the COVID-19 outbreak,” reported CIO Zong Jia. “We hold daily internal meetings, co-edit documents, and interview candidates on Teams.”

Over 50 percent of China International Marine Containers (CIMC) Group Ltd.’s business comes from export, which brings an urgent need for project-based management and real-time communications. CIMC has been using Teams to easily enable multiple collaborative team channels and remove restrictions imposed by different work locations. They’re finding it facilitates employee collaboration and has helped them complete their first successful step towards a modern workplace transformation.

We hope you’ve found it helpful to read about some of the innovative ways our customers have transformed their organizations during this difficult time. We have seen how schools have moved quickly to remote learning in virtual classrooms, and are continuing to hold important meetings, with Teams. We’ve seen how healthcare workers, faced with communication barriers brought on by COVID-19, have used Teams to connect. And we’ve seen how commercial enterprises are bringing distributed teams together and are bringing formerly in-person-only meetings—including job interviews—online. As the Greater China Region enters a new phase of its COVID-19 experience, we look forward to learning about how they apply what they’ve discovered in the days to come. We’ll be sharing more inspiring customer stories here soon, so check back often.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Welcoming and retaining diversity in cybersecurity

I doubt I’d be in the role I am now if leaders at one of my first jobs hadn’t taken an interest in my career. Although I taught myself to code when I was young, I graduated from college with a degree in English Literature and began my post-college career in editorial. I worked my way up to Assistant Editor at a math and science college textbook publisher located in Boston, Massachusetts. I was responsible for acquisitions and training on the software that that the company distributed with its textbooks. The senior editors sent me to a conference in Florida to train the sales team on how to present the software to professors. This is where I met Jennifer. Jennifer headed up the network and IT support for our California parent company, and because we shared a room at the conference hotel, we got to know each other, and she saw me present. This interaction proved pivotal. When the publisher created a new position to support a network of AS/400s, Jennifer talked me into applying—and yes, she did have to talk me into it! Like a lot of young professionals, I was intimidated to take on such a different role. But I’m so glad she was looking out for me. It was the start of my career in technology, which ultimately led me to Microsoft.

My experience is a great example of how individuals and company culture can influence the trajectory of someone’s career. To celebrate Women in Cybersecurity month, Microsoft is exploring tactics to increase diversity in the tech industry. In the first post in the series, Ann Johnson wrote about mentorship. In this post, I share some ideas for cultivating the diverse talent that already work at your company to build a strong and diverse leadership team.

Retention is as important as recruitment

When we talk about the lack of diversity in tech, much of the conversation focuses around hiring. And it’s true that we need to dramatically increase the number of women, non-binary, and people of color that we recruit. But if we want to create more diverse technology teams, we also need to address the talent drain. Too often smart technologists with nontraditional backgrounds drop out of STEM careers. Studies have shown that up to 52 percent of women leave technology fields. This is nearly double the percentage of men who quit tech. And for those who think it’s because women don’t enjoy technology, 80+ percent of women in STEM say they love their work. The problem often comes down to culture. Which means it’s something we can fix! I’ve worked with and managed many neuro-diverse teams and here’s what I’ve seen work.

People aren’t books

One of the most famous pictures of Einstein shows him with his hair in disarray, sticking his tongue out. If you didn’t know he was one of the greatest thinkers in the world, you might assume he wasn’t the fastest electron in the universe. Or what does it say that many of us didn’t discover Katharine Johnson, another brilliant physicist, until 2017 when the movie “Hidden Figures” was released.

Our collective mental model for what an engineer or scientist is supposed to look and act like doesn’t reflect reality. Some people have purple hair, some like to work in yoga pants, some listen to loud music on headphones all day, or have creative face tattoos. And many are women or LGBTQ or people of color or disabled. People’s race, gender, appearance and work styles have no bearing on whether they are a hard worker or a valuable contributor. We know this, but often we don’t realize we’ve made a judgement based on unconscious biases.

How to address: Don’t judge people by their “covers.” This starts by acknowledging that your biases may not be explicit or intentional, but they still exist. Listen to what people say. Evaluate the work they produce. Observe how they collaborate with others. These are the indicators of the value they bring. And keep in mind that people who’ve been conditioned to believe that technology isn’t for them, may not exhibit the level of confidence you expect. It doesn’t mean they can’t do it. They may just need a little more encouragement (thank you, Jennifer!).

Women often leave jobs because they feel stalled in their careers. In one study, 27 percent of U.S. women said they feel stalled and 32 percent were considering quitting in the next year. For a variety of reasons, unconscious bias results in straight white men getting more opportunities on high profile projects, more ideas greenlit, and faster promotions. As a result, women get discouraged, do not feel supported and look for other opportunities. That is why in the previous blog, we focused on mentorship.

How to address: Be a champion for women and other underrepresented groups in your company. My relationship with Jennifer is a great example of this. She took an interest in my career, identified an opportunity and helped me get to the next rung. Our relationship was informal, but you can also create a structured sponsorship program. The goal is to go beyond mentorship and become an advocate for promising women, people of color, and other underrepresented groups. Use your influence to get them the right projects, the right advice, and the right exposure to help them advance their careers.

Nurture unique thinkers

Back when I was a manager at KPMG, we used to try to hire people who “think outside the box.” But the tricky part about hiring out of the box thinkers is that their ideas are, well, outside the box. Organizations often think they want people to shake things up but in practice many are uncomfortable being challenged. This leads them to quickly shut down bold new ideas. When original thinkers don’t feel valued, they take all that innovation and creativity elsewhere.

How to address: Build a culture of inclusion where everyone has a chance to share. Not every idea is great; in my career I’ve had more than my share of bad ones! But you should listen to and consider all opinions—even if they seem a little off the wall. It doesn’t mean you have to move them all forward, but sometimes an idea that sounds outlandish one day starts to make sense after a good night’s sleep. Or take a page from the women in the Obama administration and amplify ideas that have been overlooked.

Respect the hours

Not everyone can commit to a regular eight in the morning to six in the evening work week. Many people care for children, sick spouses, and elderly parents—being a caretaker is a skill in and of itself! In fact, this quality of being a caretaker is something that in most technology roles can be a valued asset. In addition to being a caretaker, others can’t work “regular” weeks because they’re finishing degrees or have other time challenges and commitments.

Varied approaches to time also apply to project milestones. People deal with deadlines differently—some get stressed if the deadline is too close (like me!) and do their work in advance, others need that adrenaline pump and wait until (almost) the last minute to deliver.

How to address: Institute and support flexible work hours, job sharing (two people share the same job, both doing it half-time), or three weeks on/one week off work schedules that enable people to contribute without requiring them to keep the same hours as everyone else. Trust that people can be productive even if they don’t work the same way or at the same time as your typical employee.

To build a diverse, experienced team of leaders, you need an environment that supports and accepts differences of all kinds. Don’t let bias about gender, appearance, or the hours someone can work get in the way of nurturing all those great hires into the next generation of great leaders. Our senior director for our cybersecurity operations team, Kristina, looks for diversity as this helps with managing the diversity of threats. Listen to her thoughts on diversity in our CISO Spotlight Episode 7.

What’s next

For those interested in how to find more diverse talent, next week Theresa Payton will share ideas from her experience recruiting girls, women, and other people with differing backgrounds into technology.

In the meantime, bookmark the Security blog to keep up with our expert coverage on security matters. Also, follow us at @MSFTSecurity for the latest news and updates on cybersecurity. To learn more about our Security solutions visit our website. Or reach out to me on LinkedIn or Twitter.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Welcoming Arkose Labs to the M12 portfolio

By James Wu

I’m excited to welcome Arkose Labs—a fraud and abuse prevention platform, to protect web and mobile apps—to the M12 portfolio.

In an increasingly digital world where success is measured by Monthly Active Users (MAU) and Daily Active Users (DAU), online traffic is a critical performance indicator. Unfortunately, not all online traffic is created equal. The internet has become a hotbed of global cybercrime as financial transactions and exchanges of personally identifiable information become commonplace.

Cybercrime is on the rise because fraud is a well-funded global operation fueled by deep knowledge sharing and sophisticated tools and resources. Year over year, fraud grows in frequency, size and complexity. Fraudsters have long been playing a cat and mouse game with digital businesses, rapidly bypassing their defenses and evolving tactics to maximize the ROI of cybercrime. Because profitability is the goal for purveyors of fraud and abuse, we are investing in a technology that is focused on breaking the business model of fraudsters. 

Since its founding, Arkose Labs has been thinking about fraud and abuse defense a little differently. Arkose’s mission is to upend the fraud economy by introducing friction to fraud operations and—as a result—diminish their efficiency and financial returns. The more time and resources fraudsters and bots deplete trying to bypass Arkose challenges, the less time they spend wreaking havoc on Arkose customers.

Arkose Labs provides an end-to-end anti-fraud platform that delivers high fidelity detection and prevention with its flagship products: Arkose Detect and Arkose Enforce. Arkose Detect—the risk engine—unearths patterns across devices and networks in real-time for behavioral analytics and anomaly detection. Suspicious traffic will immediately trigger Arkose’s enforcement layer.

Arkose Enforce is a challenge-response mechanism that works in conjunction with Arkose Detect to authenticate unrecognized requests. Unlike legacy technology, Arkose Enforce is adaptive and purpose-built for fraud prevention; it learns from past attacks and adapts as Arkose encounters innovative attack schemes.

Above and beyond the business opportunity, the user experience of Arkose piqued our interest. Arkose introduces both game design (Arkose Labs founder, Matthew Ford, was a game designer) and security principles—two seemingly unrelated disciplines—into its product. By design, good users are intended to intuitively solve the challenges (such as rotating an animal onto its feet) with ease while stumping bots and fraud rings.

Arkose Labs’s Enforcement Challenge as it appears on Microsoft.com. One of the features of Arkose Labs is that the look and feel mimic the website it protects.

Arkose’s solution is a light deployment that seamlessly integrates with customers’ existing infrastructure and protects against a wide variety of industry-specific and business-critical use cases, including: account takeover, new account fraud, fake reviews, gift card fraud, scalping and spam.

As companies experience fraud at unprecedented scale, Arkose customers—including product teams at Microsoft, GitHub, and Electronic Arts—are adopting Arkose to protect assets and reduce fraudulent activity. Arkose protects EA gamers from bot-led abuse of its in-game economy. Microsoft Outlook issues an Arkose challenge when a user attempts to send spam. GitHub uses Arkose at the point of registration to verify authenticity of sign ups. Fraud prevention is not for the faint-hearted, but Arkose provides 100% service-level-agreements (SLAs) to prevent inauthentic requests at scale to demonstrate a strong commitment to its customers.

The product speaks for itself, but what really sets this company apart is the incredible team at Arkose Labs. Arkose founders, Kevin Gosschalk (CEO) and Matthew Ford (VP of Product), and their leadership team boast phenomenal experiences combating fraud. When M12 met the team, it was clear that customer-centricity and enthusiasm for Arkose’s mission permeated throughout the organization. CISOs and fraud teams dream of the day when bots and abuse in the online world dwindle to zero. Until then, we’re excited to be working with a preeminent organization making strides against the fraud economy.

To learn more about M12, visit www.m12.vc.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

A Message to the Gaming Community on What We’re Doing to Help Today – Xbox Wire

We are living in unprecedented times. The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted the lives of people around the world and changed the way we go about our daily lives. Here at Microsoft, we’re constantly asking ourselves what we can do to support people during this challenging time. To me, the most important thing to remember is that we’re all living and learning through this together. 

I have previously stated that I believe gaming has a unique power to bring people together, to entertain, to inspire and connect us, and I believe that’s even more true under these unique circumstances. Many are looking to gaming to remain connected with their friends while practicing social distancing, and we are seeing an unprecedented demand for gaming from our customers right now.

With hundreds of millions of kids at home due to coronavirus-related school closures more kids are going online to spend time with their friends, explore online worlds and learn through play. Families are trying to navigate the need to help their children with distance learning and balance that with taking time to have fun.  That’s why we announced today that we are adding a new Education category to the Minecraft Marketplace with free educational content players and parents can download.

The educational content we’ve curated lets players explore the International Space Station though a partnership with NASA, learn to code with a robot, visit famous Washington D.C. landmarks, find and build 3D fractals, learn what it’s like to be a marine biologist, and so much more. This is launching for free download today and will be available through June 30, 2020.

With so many turning to gaming, helping everyone stay safer online is also a top priority for us. This is why we provide family settings that help parents choose the screen time limits, content filters, purchase limits, communication and sharing settings that are right for their families. While kids may be home from school, family settings can help balance gaming with offline schoolwork and other responsibilities.

There are also some ways that we can bring brand-new players into the fold. For example, our Copilot feature can be especially helpful for children, new gamers or those who need unique configurations to play, allowing two controllers to play as if they were one.

We understand the important role gaming is playing right now to connect people and provide joy in these isolating and stressful times, and our teams are working diligently to ensure we can be there for our players. To that end, we are actively monitoring performance and usage trends to ensure we’re optimizing the service for our customers worldwide and accommodating for new growth and demand.

While these are unprecedented times we are living in, I have no doubt that we’ll come through this experience stronger than ever.

Stay safe and be good to one another.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Free Educational Content in Minecraft Marketplace!

Venture into digital worlds instead of the real one!

The world is upside down right now. We’re learning lots of new phrases like social distancing, contact tracing, and stop snacking just because you’re bored. Everyone around the world is coming together to do their part, whether that’s working on finding a vaccine, delivering food and supplies, or staying indoors. Whatever the case, all of our daily routines have been thrown completely out of whack. It’s easy to get scared at a time like this, which is why focusing on something can help you stay calm. 

Educators around the world are doing everything they can to provide digital lessons for the half a billion students who are out of school due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This is not an easy task and we want to do our part to help keep young minds sharp and stimulated. 

If you head over to the Minecraft Marketplace, you will find some of our favorite lessons from Minecraft: Education Edition in a brand new Education category. These educational worlds can be played on your own, with your kids, parents or friends. From the comfort of your home, you can tour the International Space Station or even explore the inside of a human eye. We’ve also included ten worlds from our Marketplace creator community! Thanks to creators Everbloom, Jigarbov, Lifeboat, Razzleberries, The World Foundry, Blockworks, and Imagiverse you can explore renewable energy, marine biology, Greek history, and more! The worlds include lesson plans like creative writing activities, build challenges, and tricky puzzles. 

All of these worlds are launching today and are free to download through June 30, 2020.

Anyone with Minecraft for Bedrock platforms can find these worlds by launching Minecraft and visiting the in-game store. Minecraft is available on Android & iOS, Kindle Fire, Windows 10 PC, Gear VR, Oculus Rift, Fire TV, Xbox One, Windows MR, Nintendo Switch, and PlayStation 4. 

You can find the complete content list here: https://www.minecraft.net/en-us/marketplace/education

To learn more about distance learning with Minecraft: Education Edition, visit: https://aka.ms/remote-learning-blog

Stay safe, wherever you are. We’ll get through this.

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Author: Microsoft News Center

Adaptive Biotechnologies and Microsoft expand partnership to decode COVID-19 immune response and provide open data access – Stories

Differentiated approach may improve detection methods and inform vaccine discovery for COVID-19

Other industry leaders including LabCorp, through its Covance drug development business, Illumina, and Providence join forces to accelerate this critical effort

Infographic showing decoding the immune response to COVID-19

SEATTLE and REDMOND, Wash. — March 20, 2020 Adaptive Biotechnologies Corp. (Nasdaq: ADPT) and Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq: MSFT) on Friday announced they will leverage their existing partnership mapping population-wide adaptive immune responses to diseases at scale to study COVID-19. Finding the relevant immune response signature may advance solutions to diagnose, treat and prevent the disease, augmenting existing research efforts that primarily focus on the biology of the virus. These data will be made freely available to any researcher, public health official or organization around the world via an open data access portal.

“We can improve our collective understanding of COVID-19 by decoding the immune system’s response to the virus and the disease patterns that can be inferred from studying these data at the population level,” said Chad Robins, CEO and co-founder of Adaptive Biotechnologies. “Immune response data may enable detection of the virus in infected people not showing symptoms and improve triaging of newly diagnosed patients, potentially solving two of the challenges we are facing in the current diagnostic paradigm.”

To generate immune response data, Adaptive will open enrollment in April to collect de-identified blood samples, using a LabCorp-enabled mobile phlebotomy service, from individuals diagnosed with or recovered from COVID-19 in a virtual clinical trial managed by Covance. Immune cell receptors from these blood samples will be sequenced using Illumina platform technology and mapped to SARS-CoV-2-specific antigens that will have been confirmed by Adaptive’s proprietary immune medicine platform to induce an immune response. The immune response signature found from the initial discovery work and the initial set of samples will be uploaded to the open data access portal. Leveraging Microsoft’s hyperscale machine learning capabilities and the Azure cloud platform, the accuracy of the immune response signature will be continuously improved and updated online in real time as more trial samples are sequenced from the study.

To expedite the development and relevance of the immune response signature across the global population, the companies are seeking additional participation from institutions and research groups around the world to contribute blood samples to this open data initiative. Providence, a large health system with 51 hospitals, including the one near Seattle that treated the first U.S. COVID-19 patient, is an initial clinical collaborator.

“The solution to COVID-19 is not likely going to come from one person, one company or one country. This is a global issue, and it will be a global effort to solve it,” said Peter Lee, corporate vice president, AI and Research, Microsoft. “Making critical information about the immune response accessible to the broader research community will help advance ongoing and new efforts to solve this global public health crisis, and we can accomplish this goal through our proven TCR-Antigen mapping partnership with Adaptive.”

Timing and enrollment details about the upcoming study and the open data access portal will be coming soon. Institutions or collaborators interested in contributing blood samples can direct inquiries to [email protected]

For additional resources go to https://www.adaptivebiotech.com/about-us/media-resources/.

About the Adaptive and Microsoft partnership

Adaptive and Microsoft partnered in 2018 to create a TCR-Antigen Map, an approach to translating the genetics of the adaptive immune system to understand at scale how it works. Together we are using immunosequencing and machine learning to map T-cell receptor (TCR) sequences to diseases and disease-associated antigens. Using these data, we aim to develop a blood test for the early and accurate detection of many diseases, translating the natural diagnostic capability of the immune system into the clinic. In 2019, we confirmed clinical signals in two diseases, and established our first proof of concept in Lyme Disease. We expect to submit our first clinical application to the FDA in 2020.

About Adaptive Biotechnologies

Adaptive Biotechnologies is a commercial-stage biotechnology company focused on harnessing the inherent biology of the adaptive immune system to transform the diagnosis and treatment of disease. We believe the adaptive immune system is nature’s most finely tuned diagnostic and therapeutic for most diseases, but the inability to decode it has prevented the medical community from fully leveraging its capabilities. Our proprietary immune medicine platform reveals and translates the massive genetics of the adaptive immune system with scale, precision and speed to develop products in life sciences research, clinical diagnostics, and drug discovery. We have two commercial products, and a robust clinical pipeline to diagnose, monitor and enable the treatment of diseases such as cancer, autoimmune conditions and infectious diseases. Our goal is to develop and commercialize immune-driven clinical products tailored to each individual patient. For more information, please visit adaptivebiotech.com.

About Illumina

Illumina is improving human health by unlocking the power of the genome. Our focus on innovation has established us as the global leader in DNA sequencing and array-based technologies, serving customers in the research, clinical, and applied markets. Our products are used for applications in the life sciences, oncology, reproductive health, agriculture, and other emerging segments. To learn more, visit www.illumina.com and follow @illumina.

About LabCorp

LabCorp (NYSE: LH), an S&P 500 company, is a leading global life sciences company that is deeply integrated in guiding patient care, providing comprehensive clinical laboratory and end-to-end drug development services. With a mission to improve health and improve lives, LabCorp delivers world-class diagnostics solutions, brings innovative medicines to patients faster, and uses technology to improve the delivery of care. LabCorp reported revenue of more than $11.5 billion in 2019. To learn more about LabCorp, visit www.LabCorp.com, and to learn more about Covance Drug Development, visit www.Covance.com.

About Providence

Providence is a national, not-for-profit Catholic health system comprising a diverse family of organizations and driven by a belief that health is a human right. With 51 hospitals, 1,085 physician clinics, senior services, supportive housing and many other health and educational services, the health system and its partners employ more than 119,000 caregivers serving communities across seven states – Alaska, California, Montana, New Mexico, Oregon, Texas, and Washington, with system offices in Renton, Wash., and Irvine, Calif.

About Microsoft

Microsoft (Nasdaq “MSFT” @microsoft) enables digital transformation for the era of an intelligent cloud and an intelligent edge. Its mission is to empower every person and every organization on the planet to achieve more.

For more information, press only:

Microsoft Media Relations, WE Communications for Microsoft, (425) 638-7777, [email protected]

Beth Keshishian, Adaptive Media, (917) 912-7195, [email protected]

Lynn Lewis or Carrie Mendivil, Adaptive Investor, (415) 937-5405, [email protected]

Note to editors: For more information, news and perspectives from Microsoft, please visit the Microsoft News Center at http://news.microsoft.com. Web links, telephone numbers and titles were correct at time of publication, but may have changed. For additional assistance, journalists and analysts may contact Microsoft’s Rapid Response Team or other appropriate contacts listed at https://news.microsoft.com/microsoft-public-relations-contacts.

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Author: Microsoft News Center