There are major issues with AI. This article shows how far the legal realm is in wrestling with emerging technologies.

What happens when employers can read your facial expressions? — from nytimes.com by Evan Selinger and Woodrow Hartzog
The benefits do not come close to outweighing the risks.

Excerpts:

The essential and unavoidable risks of deploying these tools are becoming apparent. A majority of Americans have functionally been put in a perpetual police lineup simply for getting a driver’s license: Their D.M.V. images are turned into faceprints for government tracking with few limits. Immigration and Customs Enforcement officials are using facial recognition technology to scan state driver’s license databases without citizens’ knowing. Detroit aspires to use facial recognition for round-the-clock monitoring. Americans are losing due-process protections, and even law-abiding citizens cannot confidently engage in free association, free movement and free speech without fear of being tracked.

 “Notice and choice” has been an abysmal failure. Social media companies, airlines and retailers overhype the short-term benefits of facial recognition while using unreadable privacy policiesClose X and vague disclaimers that make it hard to understand how the technology endangers users’ privacy and freedom.

 

From DSC:
This article illustrates how far behind the legal realm is in the United States when we look at where our society is at with wrestling with emerging technologies. Dealing with this relatively new *exponential* pace of change is very difficult for many of our institutions to deal with (higher education and the legal realm come to my mind here).

 

 

The impact of voice search on firms — from lawtechnologytoday.org

Excerpts:

“Alexa, where can I find an attorney near me who specializes in…?”

“What is my liability if a tree in my yard falls on my neighbor’s house because of a storm?”

“…voice-activated legal searches are coming, and probably faster than you expect.”

 

DC: In the future…will there be a “JustWatch” or a “Suppose” for learning-related content?

DC: In the future...will there be a JustWatch or a Suppose for learning-related content?

 

With IP Accelerator, Amazon edges into the legal services arena — from by Robert Ambrogi

Excerpt:

Online retailer Amazon has taken a step into the legal services industry, launching a curated network of IP law firms providing trademark registration services at pre-negotiated rates.

The goal of the new Amazon Intellectual Property Accelerator is to help companies more quickly obtain IP rights for their brands and access to brand-protection features in Amazon’s stores. It specifically targets small- and medium-sized businesses by making it easier and more cost effective for them to protect their ideas.

 

Also see:

Amazon's new IP Accelerator program -- October 2019

 

Big money is betting on legal industry transformation — from forbes.com by Mark Cohen

Excerpts:

Law has been big business for decades, but only recently has significant venture capital, private equity, and entrepreneur money been pumped into the legal sector. Last year saw an eye-popping 718% increase in legal industry investment, and this year’s capital infusion through the third-quarter has already surpassed last year’s $1 billion total and could well double it. Capital is turbocharging customer-centric providers that are leveraging technology, process, new skillsets, and data to transform the legal function and the delivery of legal services.


Teaser alert: what’s to prevent Amazon, Google, or some other tech giant from entering the legal space, creating a global platform, injecting billions into infrastructure and talent, creating a global legal services hub that connects consumers with global legal delivery sources as never before imagined? Short answer: the inclination to do so.

 

Legal delivery has morphed into a three-legged stool supported by legal, technological, and business expertise. 

 

UPS just beat out Amazon and Google to become America’s first nationwide drone airline — from businessinsider.com by Rachel Premack

Key points:

  • The US Department of Transportation said Tuesday it granted its first full Part 135 certification for a drone airline to UPS.
  • UPS currently conducts drone deliveries at a large hospital in Raleigh, North Carolina.
  • It will now be able to operate drones anywhere in the country — an industry first.
  • Another drone operator — Wing, owned by Google’s parent company Alphabet — also has Part 135 certification. But the scope of its operation is limited to Christiansburg, Virginia, about 210 miles southwest of the state capitol Richmond.

From DSC:
Add to that, these delivery bots, drones, pods, and more:

 

From DSC:
I wonder…will we be able to take a quiet walk in the future? That may not be the case if the building of these armies of drones continues — and becomes a full-fledged trend.

 

Walgreens to test drone delivery service with Alphabet’s Wing — from cnbc.com by Jasmine Wu

Key Points:

  • Walgreens is working with Alphabet’s drone delivery service Wing to test a new service.
  • The pilot program will deliver food and beverage, over-the-counter medications and other items, but not prescriptions.
  • Amazon said in June its new delivery drone should be ready “within months” to deliver packages to customers.

 

Add that to these other robots, drones, driverless pods, etc.:

 

From DSC:
Is a wild, wild west developing? It appears so. What does the average citizen do in these cases if they don’t want such drones constantly flying over their heads, neighborhoods, schools, etc.?

I wonder what the average age is of people working on these projects…?

Just because we can…

 

Someone is always listening — from Future Today Institute

Excerpt:

Very Near-Futures Scenarios (2020 – 2022):

  • OptimisticBig tech and consumer device industries agree to a single set of standards to inform people when they are being listened to. Devices now emit an audible ping and/ or a visible light anytime they are actively recording sound. While they need to store data in order to improve natural language understanding and other important AI systems, consumers now have access to a portal and can see, listen to, and erase their data at any time. In addition, consumers can choose to opt-out of storing their data to help improve AI systems.
  • Pragmatic: Big tech and consumer device industries preserve the status quo, which leads to more cases of machine eavesdropping and erodes public trust. Federal agencies open investigations into eavesdropping practices, which leads to a drop in share prices and a concern that more advanced biometric technologies could face debilitating regulation.
  • CatastrophicBig tech and consumer device industries collect and store our conversations surreptitiously while developing new ways to monetize that data. They anonymize and sell it to developers wanting to create their own voice apps or to research institutions wanting to do studies using real-world conversation. Some platforms develop lucrative fee structures allowing others access to our voice data: business intelligence firms, market research agencies, polling agencies, political parties and individual law enforcement organizations. Consumers have little to no ability to see and understand how their voice data are being used and by whom. Opting out of collection systems is intentionally opaque. Trust erodes. Civil unrest grows.

Action Meter:

 

Watchlist:

  • Google; Apple; Amazon; Microsoft; Salesforce; BioCatch; CrossMatch; ThreatMetrix; Electronic Frontier Foundation; World Privacy Forum; American Civil Liberties Union; IBM; Baidu; Tencent; Alibaba; Facebook; Electronic Frontier Foundation; European Union; government agencies worldwide.

 

 

Microsoft President: Democracy Is At Stake. Regulate Big Tech — from npr.org by Aarti Shahani

Excerpts:

Regulate us. That’s the unexpected message from one of the country’s leading tech executives. Microsoft President Brad Smith argues that governments need to put some “guardrails” around engineers and the tech titans they serve.

If public leaders don’t, he says, the Internet giants will cannibalize the very fabric of this country.

“We need to work together; we need to work with governments to protect, frankly, something that is far more important than technology: democracy. It was here before us. It needs to be here and healthy after us,” Smith says.

“Almost no technology has gone so entirely unregulated, for so long, as digital technology,” Smith says.

 

Uh-oh: Silicon Valley is building a Chinese-style social credit system — from fastcompany.com by Mike Elgan
In China, scoring citizens’ behavior is official government policy. U.S. companies are increasingly doing something similar, outside the law.

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

Have you heard about China’s social credit system? It’s a technology-enabled, surveillance-based nationwide program designed to nudge citizens toward better behavior. The ultimate goal is to “allow the trustworthy to roam everywhere under heaven while making it hard for the discredited to take a single step,” according to the Chinese government.

In place since 2014, the social credit system is a work in progress that could evolve by next year into a single, nationwide point system for all Chinese citizens, akin to a financial credit score. It aims to punish for transgressions that can include membership in or support for the Falun Gong or Tibetan Buddhism, failure to pay debts, excessive video gaming, criticizing the government, late payments, failing to sweep the sidewalk in front of your store or house, smoking or playing loud music on trains, jaywalking, and other actions deemed illegal or unacceptable by the Chinese government.

IT CAN HAPPEN HERE
Many Westerners are disturbed by what they read about China’s social credit system. But such systems, it turns out, are not unique to China. A parallel system is developing in the United States, in part as the result of Silicon Valley and technology-industry user policies, and in part by surveillance of social media activity by private companies.

Here are some of the elements of America’s growing social credit system.

 

If current trends hold, it’s possible that in the future a majority of misdemeanors and even some felonies will be punished not by Washington, D.C., but by Silicon Valley. It’s a slippery slope away from democracy and toward corporatocracy.

 

From DSC:
Who’s to say what gains a citizen points and what subtracts from their score? If one believes a certain thing, is that a plus or a minus? And what might be tied to someone’s score? The ability to obtain food? Medicine/healthcare? Clothing? Social Security payments? Other?

We are giving a huge amount of power to a handful of corporations…trust comes into play…at least for me. Even internally, the big tech co’s seem to be struggling as to the ethical ramifications of what they’re working on (in a variety of areas). 

Is the stage being set for a “Person of Interest” Version 2.0?

 

Amazon, Microsoft, ‘putting world at risk of killer AI’: study — from news.yahoo.com by Issam Ahmed

Excerpt:

Washington (AFP) – Amazon, Microsoft and Intel are among leading tech companies putting the world at risk through killer robot development, according to a report that surveyed major players from the sector about their stance on lethal autonomous weapons.

Dutch NGO Pax ranked 50 companies by three criteria: whether they were developing technology that could be relevant to deadly AI, whether they were working on related military projects, and if they had committed to abstaining from contributing in the future.

“Why are companies like Microsoft and Amazon not denying that they’re currently developing these highly controversial weapons, which could decide to kill people without direct human involvement?” said Frank Slijper, lead author of the report published this week.

Addendum on 8/23/19:

 

AI is in danger of becoming too male — new research — from singularityhub.com by Juan Mateos-Garcia and Joysy John

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

But current AI systems are far from perfect. They tend to reflect the biases of the data used to train them and to break down when they face unexpected situations.

So do we really want to turn these bias-prone, brittle technologies into the foundation stones of tomorrow’s economy?

One way to minimize AI risks is to increase the diversity of the teams involved in their development. As research on collective decision-making and creativity suggests, groups that are more cognitively diverse tend to make better decisions. Unfortunately, this is a far cry from the situation in the community currently developing AI systems. And a lack of gender diversity is one important (although not the only) dimension of this.

A review published by the AI Now Institute earlier this year showed that less than 20 percent of the researchers applying to prestigious AI conferences are women, and that only a quarter of undergraduates studying AI at Stanford and the University of California at Berkeley are female.

 


From DSC:
My niece just left a very lucrative programming job and managerial role at Microsoft after working there for several years. As a single woman, she got tired of fighting the culture there. 

It was again a reminder to me that there are significant ramifications to the cultures of the big tech companies…especially given the power of these emerging technologies and the growing influence they are having on our culture.


Addendum on 8/20/19:

  • Google’s Hate Speech Detection A.I. Has a Racial Bias Problem — from fortunes.com by Jonathan Vanian
    Excerpt:
    A Google-created tool that uses artificial intelligence to police hate speech in online comments on sites like the New York Times has become racially biased, according to a new study. The tool, developed by Google and a subsidiary of its parent company, often classified comments written in the African-American vernacular as toxic, researchers from the University of Washington, Carnegie Mellon, and the Allen Institute for Artificial Intelligence said in a paper presented in early August at the Association for Computational Linguistics conference in Florence, Italy.
    .
  • On the positive side of things:
    Number of Female Students, Students of Color Tackling Computer Science AP on the Rise — from thejournal.com
 

Alexa Skill Blueprints Publishing Now Available in Australia and New Zealand – Create and Publish a Skill, No Coding Required— from developer.amazon.com by James Ang

Excerpt:

We are excited to announce that now anyone can create and publish an Alexa skill on the Australian Alexa Skills Store using Alexa Skill Blueprints. Skill Blueprints enable you to create and share customised Alexa skills simply by filling in the blanks to one of the dozens of easy-to-use templates, with no coding required. Now you can publish skills created using Alexa Skill Blueprints to the Alexa Skills Store in Australia for customers to discover and use. We have also built new Skill Blueprints specifically for content creators, bloggers, and organisations so they can reach anyone with an Alexa-enabled device.

Create Fun Learning Tools
Whether you are a parent helping your child study or want to teach something you’re passionate about, Blueprints are easy tools to create new ways to learn. Use the QuizFlashcardsFacts, and Listening Quiz Blueprints to help teach new concepts, retain information, and prepare for the next exam. Add your content into the Skill Blueprint template without the need for any coding and make learning fun for everyone.

 

 

Top 10 Digital Transformation Trends For 2020 –from forbes.com by Daniel Newman

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

A faster WiFi for a faster world: Although WiFi 6 and 5G are completely different technologies, both will be bringing us much faster processing and wireless connection speeds in 2020. 5G and WiFi 6 working in concert will create the perfect end-to-end combination of ultra-fast connectivity for home and office. Expect download speeds up to 3x faster than were achievable with WiFi 5, but that isn’t the best measure of the new standard’s value. The real value of WiFi 6 will be its ability to extend faster data speeds to far more devices than WiFi 5 was able to manage.

 

Amazon pledges $700 million to teach its workers to code — from wired.com by Louise Matsakis

Excerpt:

Amazon announced Thursday that it will spend up to $700 million over the next six years retraining 100,000 of its US employees, mostly in technical skills like software engineering and IT support. Amazon is already one of the largest employers in the country, with almost 300,000 workers (and many more contractors) and it’s particularly hungry for more new talent. The company currently has more than 20,000 vacant US roles, over half of which are at its headquarters in Seattle. Meanwhile, the US economy is booming, and there are now more open jobs than there are unemployed people who can fill them, according to the Bureau of Labor Statistics.

 

Against that backdrop, Amazon’s jobs skills efforts provide some reassurance that—in theory at least—you could be retrained into a new role when the robots arrive.

 

From the announcement:

Based on a review of its workforce and analysis of U.S. hiring, Amazon’s fastest growing highly skilled jobs over the last five years include data mapping specialist, data scientist, solutions architect and business analyst, as well as logistics coordinator, process improvement manager and transportation specialist within our customer fulfillment network.

 

Also see:

  • Amazon to Invest $700M to Retrain 100,000 Workers for New Jobs — from pcmag.com by Michael Kan Icon
    ‘There is a greater need for technical skills in the workplace than ever before. Amazon is no exception,’ the company said. The goal is to ‘upskill’ one third of Amazon’s total work force by 2025 through free retraining programs.
 

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