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Orchid Plans To Find Out What’s Wrong With You Before You’re Born

According to CEO Noor Siddiqui, the company isn’t on a mission to make designer babies, but aims to beat genetic odds and relieve suffering.

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startup orchid plans to find out what's wrong with you before you're born
Orchid

Each day, around 400,000 babies are welcomed into the world. However, among those, a growing number will experience some kind of birth defect or inherited disease.

Noor Siddiqui, CEO of Orchid, hopes to “mitigate” unpleasant genetic surprises using genome sequencing technology to reveal a wealth of genetic information on which newborns will grow into healthy adults.

Until 2019, IVF specialists had access to under 1% of the human genome. The tests, called PGT-A and PGT-M, scanned a mere 1,000 data points in a genome comprising around 3 billion bases, offering a very limited dataset compared to the technology used by Orchid.

“Our chromosomes are like chapters in a book that make up the table of contents.” Explained Siddiqui. “[PGT-A and PGT-M tests] only examine the table of contents, whereas what Orchid is doing is like a spellcheck on the entire book.” Orchid’s genome sampling technology assesses “100 times the data, covering many more conditions.” In essence, an Orchid report covers three categories of common genetic issues: monogenic disorders, polygenic conditions, and de-novo mutations.

Also Read: Advancing MENA Health Through AI Vascular Age Analysis

Orchid’s technology raises many questions. Aside from the obvious ethical concerns, data privacy is the most obvious potential issue with the tests. Noor Siddiqui is keen to alleviate any concerns: “No data at Orchid is ever sold to any third parties. Parents are in complete control of their data. If they want to delete the data, we’re happy to delete it off of our servers. If they want to export the data, they can export the data. And if they want us to re-analyze the data, we can re-analyze the data”.

Compared to a lifetime of medical bills, gene therapy, and suffering, Orchid’s genome screening report has the potential to change the future lives of thousands of newborns worldwide.

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Truecaller To Use Microsoft Azure AI Speech For Call Answering

The new service features a powerful speech generation tool to allow users to create AI versions of their voices.

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truecaller to use microsoft azure ai speech for call answering
Truecaller

Truecaller, a well-known app for identifying and blocking spam calls, is enhancing its services by allowing users to create AI versions of their voices. The new feature, available to those with access to Truecaller’s AI Assistant, stems from a partnership with Microsoft and its Azure AI Speech tool, allowing the generation of realistic AI voices that accurately mimic users’ speech patterns and tone.

“This groundbreaking capability not only adds a touch of familiarity and comfort for the users but also showcases the power of AI in transforming the way we interact with our digital assistants,” explained Truecaller product director and general manager Raphael Mimoun in a recent blog post.

The AI Assistant in Truecaller screens incoming calls, informing recipients of a caller’s purpose. Based on this information, users can decide whether to answer the call themselves or let the AI Assistant handle it.

When the feature was introduced in 2022, users could only choose from a collection of preset voices. The ability to record one’s own voice represents a significant step towards the complete personalization of the service.

Also Read: Getting Started With Google Gemini: A Beginner’s Guide

Azure AI Speech, showcased during the last Build conference, only recently added a personal voice feature that lets people record and replicate voices. Microsoft explained in a blog post, however, that Personal Voice is available on a limited basis and only for specific use cases like voice assistants.

To maintain ethical standards, Microsoft’s Azure AI Speech automatically adds watermarks to AI-generated voices. Additionally, a code of conduct requires companies to obtain full consent from individuals being recorded and prohibits impersonation.

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