Microsoft Systems to Mimic How People Glean Info From Images

Today's topics include Microsoft teaching computers to see like people, Skype for iOS now has multi-tasking features, Ashley Madison users are increasingly being targeted by spammers, and budget airlines will soon be adopting in-flight WiFi.

Researchers at Microsoft are developing systems that mimic how humans pull information from the things they see. Microsoft spokesperson Athima Chansanchai wrote in a blog post that a team of Microsoft researchers and colleagues from Carnegie Mellon University have created a system that uses computer vision, deep learning and language understanding to analyze images and answer questions the same way humans would. Microsoft envisions that the work will lead to systems that can anticipate human needs and provide real-time recommendations.

Skype 6.6, released last week for Apple's iPhone and iPad, helps multi-taskers manage their audio and video calls a little better. In a Nov. 23 blog post, Microsoft announced that its Skype developers have made it easier for you to get back to an active Skype audio or video call from your instant messages or contact list. Simply tap the active call banner to jump straight back to your call. For those who prefer Skype's text-based chats, notifications now alert users to new messages.

Four months after the Ashley Madison breach, members are still feeling the impact, as an increased volume of spam is targeting them. According to email security firm MailChannels, the volume of spam and phishing emails being sent to email addresses stored in the Ashley Madison database is significantly higher than spam volumes sent to a random sample of addresses.

MailChannels found that spammers are customizing the subject lines to make the topics more pertinent to the Ashley Madison users, such as removal services to help users get their personal information eliminated from online sites.

According to a report from Juniper Research, the adoption of in-flight WiFi by budget airlines will provide a boost to the connected in-flight entertainment market, driving the number of connected commercial aircraft to over 10,400 by 2020. This will represent more than a threefold increase from an estimated 3,200 this year. The decreasing costs of stand-alone in-flight WiFi hardware will for the first time make connected in-flight entertainment attractive to low-cost airlines flying short-haul routes.

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