Microsoft Explores AI and 'The Open Source Future with Web3'

As part of an open-source-focused Azure event, Microsoft announced new AI capabilities and explored "the open source future with Web3."

That was the topic of a fireside chat that closed today's (March 7) Azure Open Source Day 2023, described as an opportunity to learn more about the company's role in the open source community, its contributions and vision.

A companion blog post explained that "Web3 refers to another evolution of the internet, which may be more decentralized. It is built on a blockchain, which is a distributed ledger technology that enables the creation of a secure and transparent way to transfer and store digital assets."

One part of the fireside chat featured Microsoft's Donovan Brown opining on the Web3 development onboarding experience being improved with Microsoft tools. He said moving to Web3 as a developer can be difficult due to all the frameworks and tools needed.

"For example, across GitHub and Visual Studio, I've seen great work in the community to address pain points, and the experience of the Web3 developer," he said. "For example, there have been incredible extensions contributed by the community to make tools more easily integrated into GitHub, Code Spaces, and VS code to ease the web through developer onboarding experience."

The closing fireside chat, like much of the marketing-focused event, heavily featured the company's AI-related initiatives.

"Also, with the power of AI, you can ask ChatGPT to create a 'hello world' sample in any language and copy and paste the code into your project," the aforementioned post said. "When you go to modify the code, have GitHub copilot help you make the changes using all the best practices. You can do all of this inside a GitHub Codespace configured with all your favorite tools, frameworks, and Visual Studio Code extensions installed. Then, you can use Azure DevOps or GitHub Actions to deploy the application to Azure."

One bit of news coming out of the event was an announcement of an upcoming public preview of foundation models in Azure Machine Learning, which allows users to customize and deploy pre-trained open source foundation models from Hugging Face throughout Azure Machine Learning.

Hugging Face
[Click on image for larger view.] Hugging Face (source: Microsoft).

"It provides Azure Machine Learning with native capabilities that enable customers to build and operationalize open-source foundation models at scale," Microsoft said. "With these new capabilities, organizations will get access to curated environments and Azure AI Infrastructure without having to manually manage and optimize dependencies.

Also the company announced new capabilities in Vision Services and the Florence foundation model in Azure Cognitive Services.

"This new Microsoft model delivers significant improvements to image captioning and groundbreaking customization capabilities with few-shot learning," the company said in describing the latter. "Until today, model customization required large datasets with hundreds of images per label to achieve production quality for vision tasks. But, Florence is trained on billions of text-image pairs, allowing custom models to achieve high quality with just a few images. This lowers the hurdle for creating models that can fit challenging use cases where training data is limited."

In related news, announced last week were the Responsible AI Mitigations Library and the Fairlearn fairness assessment tool, described as open source tools designed to make the adoption of responsible AI practices more practical.

About the Author

David Ramel is an editor and writer for Converge360.


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