Enabling Future Smart Cities to Flourish


In this Project Syndicate’s article entitled “Life in the Uber City“, MIT’s Senseable City Lab researchers encourage policymakers to direct resources towards supporting “a bottom-up” ecosystem to make smart cities a reality and also to nurture “the regulatory frameworks” which creates the urban space to allow innovations to thrive.

On one hand, I agree with their call to enable a more conducive regulatory environment for smart city innovations like Uber, Nest and Airbnb to flourish, but I also believe that technology multinationals programmes such like Microsoft CityNext and IBM Smarter Planet should not be avoided. These multinationals play a very important role to support the larger local technology economy and provide important institutional knowledge and best practices to make such smart cities innovations truly scale up beyond district level and spread the benefits across the entire city.

Therefore, policymakers should not be forced to go one way over the other but keep an open mind about technology, and focus their effort on developing a regulatory environment which supports all innovation from both sides – start-ups or multinationals, to thrive, and that’s a really smart choice.



No scientific evidence proves that hi-tech running shoes prevent injuries

Dr Craig Richards and research team from Australia’s University of Newcastle investigated the ability of running shoes with elevated cushioned heels and anti-pronation systems to prevent injury.

“We did not identify a single study that has attempted to measure the effect of this shoe type on either injury rates or performance.

“This means there is no scientific evidence that ‘Pronation Control, Elevated Cushioned Heel’ (PCECH) shoes provide any benefit to distance runners.”

Their findings have been published in the latest edition of the British Journal of Sports Medicine.

Source: http://www.newcastle.edu.au/news/2009/03/noevidencerunningshoespreventinjuries.html

Related link:

Using Computer Science Theories to Fight HIV: Rick Rashid


Last week in Singapore, Rick Rashid, Microsoft Senior Vice-President (Research) highlighted how computer science theories (and not just computers) are increasing scientists’ arsenal to fight the HIV virus. Below is an extract from the interview “Microsoft takes computer science into fight against HIV“.

Computer science is giving scientists new ways to look at the virus that causes AIDS (acquired immune deficiency syndrome), perspectives that may help efforts to develop an effective vaccine and other medicines, according to the head of Microsoft’s research arm.

“It’s really focused on new ways of thinking about how to describe and analyze systemic activities within a cell,” said Rick Rashid, “Computer science theory, especially computer science languages, can actually be used to describe cell processes, and then the mathematics that we use to analyse programs can also be applied to analyse cell activities because there’s an underlying mathematical relationship,” Rashid said.

“It’s opening up peoples minds to how computers can help them, not just to do their work better, but how the underlying theory and underlying computer science changes the way they look at their problems,” he said.

Since 2005, Microsoft has sought to apply machine-learning techniques, including technology used in spam and antivirus filters, to AIDS research. The goal is to find genetic patterns in HIV that can be used to “train” the human immune system to fight the virus. In particular, Microsoft has looked for ways to track how HIV mutates to evade the human immune system.

“The idea is that because the genome is basically digital, it can be described as a string and analyzed as a string. It opens up an opportunity to think about a lot of problems in that space as data mining or machine-learning problems,” Rashid said.

Microsoft Research Asia Academic Collaboration 10 Year Anniversary Commemoration Book

Microsoft Research Asia released a book (“Innovation Together” ISBN 978-0-387-87860-7) which contained papers previously published in respected journals to coincide with its 10 Year Anniversary celebration. These papers compiled by the University Relation team is a testimony of Microsoft Research Asia’s collaboration with the Asia Pacific academic community.

Click on the images for expanded view.

Springer-Microsoft-Research-Asia-10-year-Anniversary-Academic-Research-Collaboration-Book UR-team-members-who-helped-out-the-book 
(I got a mention in the Editor’s forward!)

Running Microsoft Research similiar to a Computer Science Department

Dr Rick Rashid (Senior Vice-President, Microsoft Research) spoke to IEEE Spectrum (Jun 08 ) about his computer science department-styled approach to running Microsoft Research and the breathe of pure research (and not just applied) undertaken.

Visit the interview article “Microsoft’s Rick Rashid on Building a Corporate Research Giant” on IEEE Spectrum.

Microsoft Research Asia Internship Opportunities for Australia, New Zealand and Singapore PhD Candidates

The following Microsoft Research Asia groups are recruiting interns for the period from Jul – Sep 08:

  • User Interface
  • Media Communication
  • Data Intelligence and Tools
  • Machine Learning
  • Visual Computing
  • Internet Media
  • Search Technology Center

Internship program, background information and FAQ are avaliable from http://research.microsoft.com/aboutmsr/jobs/internships/about_china.aspx

Interested PhD candidates from Australia, New Zealand and Singapore universities, please contact me () for more information. Please note that I can only respond to relevent AU, NZ and SG enquiries.

Interested applications from other countries may email msraih@microsoft.com.

Download and Explore the Universe from your Desktop – Microsoft WorldWide Telescope

Today, Microsoft Research announced the availability of the public beta of WorldWide Telescope.

“The WorldWide Telescope is a powerful tool for science and education that makes it possible for everyone to explore the universe,” said Bill Gates, chairman of Microsoft.

“By combining terabytes of incredible imagery and data with easy-to-use software for viewing and moving through all that information, the WorldWide Telescope opens the door to new ways to see and experience the wonders of space. Our hope is that it will inspire young people to explore astronomy and science, and help researchers in their quest to better understand the universe.”

I encourage all of you to try it at http://www.worldwidetelescope.org

Related link: Capturing screenshots from Worldwide Telescope (Long Zheng, istartedsomething.com)