In this month’s tech policy roundup for members of the Microsoft Alumni Network, we want to highlight one Microsoft CSR program aimed at strengthening democracy and trusted journalism worldwide. We also share a tech policy highlight from Washington, DC, and an example of AI that caught our attention.
Microsoft Collaborates with USAID and Internews to Support Independent Journalism
Local independent news is a cornerstone of civic education, engagement, and democracy—in the U.S. and globally. As part of its Democracy Forward initiative, Microsoft, along with the U.S. Agency for International Development (USAID) and non-profit Internews, announced a new public-private partnership to build the Media Viability Accelerator (MVA). A web-based platform, the MVA will pool data from independent media organizations worldwide to provide business insights into sustaining local journalism. The tool will also help connect 500 independent news organizations with solutions and services from government, non-profits, and businesses. You can learn more about the MVA here and read Microsoft’s blog on the announcement here.
White House Advances Privacy-Preserving Data and Analytics
While Congress held hearings about data privacy in March, federal lawmakers still have not found common ground to pass legislation on this issue. However, there are still actions that the federal government can take to protect data privacy. Case in point, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy (OSTP) recently released the multi-agency “National Strategy to Advance Privacy-Preserving Data Sharing and Analytics.”
This Strategy aims to advance the use of data privacy-protecting methods and technologies in the federal government and elsewhere. Crucially, the Strategy underscores the importance of using data to tackle major social challenges, which makes it all the more important to develop privacy protections that facilitate beneficial uses of data. In addition to reading the Strategy, you can find a detailed summary from Nextgov here.
AI in Action—Detecting Lung Cancer
Lung cancer is the leading cause of cancer deaths in the U.S., claiming about 127,000 American lives every year. The challenge is early detection—and a new AI tool shows promise on this front. Sybil—an AI deep-learning model developed by researchers at MIT, Mass General, and Chang Gung Memorial Hospital in Taiwan—can accurately predict future lung cancer risk from a single low-dose CT scan. Effectively, it can find patterns in 3D images that cannot be seen by the human eye—and could help stop cancer before it spreads.
While this tool is still being studied and not yet available for clinical use, it represents one more example of how AI can be used to address a range of intractable challenges, including those in healthcare. You can watch and read an NBC News story about Sybil here.
What is Voices for Innovation? We’re a Microsoft-supported advocacy community that shares information about critical tech policy debates and encourages our members to participate in discussions about policies that shape innovation and the future of tech. We encourage Microsoft Alumni Network members to sign up for VFI today.