Microsoft trots out Azure Anomaly Detector tech, which oddly enough spots oddities in data

Plus: Redmond's shot at image recognition, Custom Vision


Microsoft has emitted a couple of technologies for its Azure Cognitive Services designed to spot unusual patterns and classify images.

First up is a preview of a new Cognitive Service, Anomaly Detector. With "does what it says on the tin" branding, the tech is built to detect unusual patterns or rare events in data.

While Microsoft is keen to point out the tech is already in use across the company to identify irregularities with a view to speeding up troubleshooting, other use cases include monitoring big data flows, such as IoT traffic, keeping an eye on streaming video traffic and, of course, dealing with possible transactional naughtiness.

The latter will be of particular interest to the financial sector. An industry insider told us that current technologies, such as Oracle's Mantas Financial Services Anti Money Laundering were, at their heart, scripts running scenarios on the huge data sets involved.

As an example, a scenario would look for transfers over £10k, with banks shifting that threshold up and down should miscreants get wise to the rules. The results can then swamp backroom teams as ops personnel check flagged transactions. Our insider told us: "Some may be false positives," before adding, ruefully, "Most are."

Applying a bit of machine learning wizardry to such things is therefore key in improving the quality of the results (and most likely swinging an axe on the necks of those charged with checking the output).

Microsoft, of course, is not the only game in town. HSBC has buddied up with Google Cloud for a project focused on machine learning to spot anomalies. The quantities of data involved meant a partnership with one of the big cloud providers, like Google, proved inevitable.

Or Microsoft, who has invested big in Azure's AI smarts.

The timing for the new service is good. Our insider remarked there is a push away from traditional rules-based transaction monitoring towards machine learning, in the hope of improving the quality of alerts. He noted, however, that things were still a long way off.

The all-seeing eye of Custom Vision

While the Anomaly Detector service remains in preview, the Azure gang has pushed Custom Vision, Microsoft's take on identifying objects in images, to general availability.

The tech allows developers to train their own classifier to flag what they consider important and, handily, export the things to be used offline (on iOS, Android and, of course, edge devices). The exported models are tweaked to handle the limitations of mobile devices.

Microsoft cited the use of the technology to detect foam levels in water being treated for livestock as an example in the field.

While image classification is nothing new (TensorFlow and its like have been doing it for years), the simplicity of Custom Vision is appealing from a developer perspective. SDKs for .NET, Python, Java, Node.js and Go mean most tastes are catered for, and we were able to run up an app to look for logos in images with little difficulty.

Classifiers can also be exported to be used by Raspberry Pi 3 computers. Their edgier ilk will get a look-in via the upcoming Vision AI Developer Kit. ®


Other stories you might like

  • DigitalOcean tries to take sting out of price hike with $4 VM
    Cloud biz says it is reacting to customer mix largely shifting from lone devs to SMBs

    DigitalOcean attempted to lessen the sting of higher prices this week by announcing a cut-rate instance aimed at developers and hobbyists.

    The $4-a-month droplet — what the infrastructure-as-a-service outfit calls its virtual machines — pairs a single virtual CPU with 512 MB of memory, 10 GB of SSD storage, and 500 GB a month in network bandwidth.

    The launch comes as DigitalOcean plans a sweeping price hike across much of its product portfolio, effective July 1. On the low-end, most instances will see pricing increase between $1 and $16 a month, but on the high-end, some products will see increases of as much as $120 in the case of DigitalOceans’ top-tier storage-optimized virtual machines.

    Continue reading
  • GPL legal battle: Vizio told by judge it will have to answer breach-of-contract claims
    Fine-print crucially deemed contractual agreement as well as copyright license in smartTV source-code case

    The Software Freedom Conservancy (SFC) has won a significant legal victory in its ongoing effort to force Vizio to publish the source code of its SmartCast TV software, which is said to contain GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 copyleft-licensed components.

    SFC sued Vizio, claiming it was in breach of contract by failing to obey the terms of the GPLv2 and LGPLv2.1 licenses that require source code to be made public when certain conditions are met, and sought declaratory relief on behalf of Vizio TV owners. SFC wanted its breach-of-contract arguments to be heard by the Orange County Superior Court in California, though Vizio kicked the matter up to the district court level in central California where it hoped to avoid the contract issue and defend its corner using just federal copyright law.

    On Friday, Federal District Judge Josephine Staton sided with SFC and granted its motion to send its lawsuit back to superior court. To do so, Judge Staton had to decide whether or not the federal Copyright Act preempted the SFC's breach-of-contract allegations; in the end, she decided it didn't.

    Continue reading
  • US brings first-of-its-kind criminal charges of Bitcoin-based sanctions-busting
    Citizen allegedly moved $10m-plus in BTC into banned nation

    US prosecutors have accused an American citizen of illegally funneling more than $10 million in Bitcoin into an economically sanctioned country.

    It's said the resulting criminal charges of sanctions busting through the use of cryptocurrency are the first of their kind to be brought in the US.

    Under the United States' International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEA), it is illegal for a citizen or institution within the US to transfer funds, directly or indirectly, to a sanctioned country, such as Iran, Cuba, North Korea, or Russia. If there is evidence the IEEA was willfully violated, a criminal case should follow. If an individual or financial exchange was unwittingly involved in evading sanctions, they may be subject to civil action. 

    Continue reading
  • Meta hires network chip guru from Intel: What does this mean for future silicon?
    Why be a customer when you can develop your own custom semiconductors

    Analysis Here's something that should raise eyebrows in the datacenter world: Facebook parent company Meta has hired a veteran networking chip engineer from Intel to lead silicon design efforts in the internet giant's infrastructure hardware engineering group.

    Jon Dama started as director of silicon in May for Meta's infrastructure hardware group, a role that has him "responsible for several design teams innovating the datacenter for scale," according to his LinkedIn profile. In a blurb, Dama indicated that a team is already in place at Meta, and he hopes to "scale the next several doublings of data processing" with them.

    Though we couldn't confirm it, we think it's likely that Dama is reporting to Alexis Bjorlin, Meta's vice president of infrastructure hardware who previously worked with Dama when she was general manager of Intel's Connectivity group before serving a two-year stint at Broadcom.

    Continue reading
  • Lithium production needs investment to keep pace with battery demand
    Report says $42b will need to be poured into industry over next decade

    Growing demand for lithium for batteries means the sector will need $42 billion of investment to meet the anticipated level of orders by the end of the decade, according to a report.

    Lithium is used in batteries that power smartphones and laptops, but there is also rising use in electric vehicles which is putting additional pressure on supplies.

    The report, Benchmark Mineral Intelligence, predicts that demand will reach 2.4 million tons of lithium carbonate equivalent by 2030, roughly four times the 600,000 tons of lithium forecast to be produced this year.

    Continue reading

Biting the hand that feeds IT © 1998–2022