10 things we should all demand from Big Tech right now — from vox.com by Sigal Samuel
We need an algorithmic bill of rights. AI experts helped us write one.

We need an algorithmic bill of rights. AI experts helped us write one.

Excerpts:

  1. Transparency: We have the right to know when an algorithm is making a decision about us, which factors are being considered by the algorithm, and how those factors are being weighted.
  2. Explanation: We have the right to be given explanations about how algorithms affect us in a specific situation, and these explanations should be clear enough that the average person will be able to understand them.
  3. Consent: We have the right to give or refuse consent for any AI application that has a material impact on our lives or uses sensitive data, such as biometric data.
  4. Freedom from bias: We have the right to evidence showing that algorithms have been tested for bias related to race, gender, and other protected characteristics — before they’re rolled out. The algorithms must meet standards of fairness and nondiscrimination and ensure just outcomes. (Inserted comment from DSC: Is this even possible? I hope so, but I have my doubts especially given the enormous lack of diversity within the large tech companies.)
  5. Feedback mechanism: We have the right to exert some degree of control over the way algorithms work.
  6. Portability: We have the right to easily transfer all our data from one provider to another.
  7. Redress: We have the right to seek redress if we believe an algorithmic system has unfairly penalized or harmed us.
  8. Algorithmic literacy: We have the right to free educational resources about algorithmic systems.
  9. Independent oversight: We have the right to expect that an independent oversight body will be appointed to conduct retrospective reviews of algorithmic systems gone wrong. The results of these investigations should be made public.
  10. Federal and global governance: We have the right to robust federal and global governance structures with human rights at their center. Algorithmic systems don’t stop at national borders, and they are increasingly used to decide who gets to cross borders, making international governance crucial.

 

This raises the question: Who should be tasked with enforcing these norms? Government regulators? The tech companies themselves?

 

 

From LinkedIn.com today:

 


Also see:


 

From DSC:
I don’t like this at all. If this foot gets in the door, vendor after vendor will launch their own hordes of drones. In the future, where will we go if we want some piece and quiet? Will the air be filled with swarms of noisy drones? Will we be able to clearly see the sun? An exaggeration..? Maybe…maybe not.

But, now what? What recourse do citizens have? Readers of this blog know that I’m generally pro-technology. But the folks — especially the youth — working within the FAANG companies (and the like) need to do a far better job asking, “Just because we can do something, should we do it?”

As I’ve said before, we’ve turned over the keys to the $137,000 Maserati to drivers who are just getting out of driving school. Then we wonder….”How did we get to this place?” 

 

If you owned this $137,000+ car, would you turn the keys of it over to your 16-25 year old?!

 

As another example, just because we can…

just because we can does not mean we should

 

…doesn’t mean we should.

 

just because we can does not mean we should

 

 

Addendum on 4/20/19:

Amazon is now making its delivery drivers take selfies — from theverge.com by Shannon Liao
It will then use facial recognition to double-check

From DSC:
I don’t like this piece re: Amazon’s use of facial recognition at all. Some organization like Amazon asserts that they need facial recognition to deliver services to its customers, and then, the next thing we know, facial recognition gets its foot in the door…sneaks in the back way into society’s house. By then, it’s much harder to get rid of. We end up with what’s currently happening in China. I don’t want to pay for anything with my face. Ever. As Mark Zuckerberg has demonstrated time and again, I don’t trust humankind to handle this kind of power. Plus, the developing surveillance states by several governments is a chilling thing indeed. China is using it to identify/track Muslims.

China using AI to track Muslims

Can you think of some “groups” that people might be in that could be banned from receiving goods and services? I can. 

The appalling lack of privacy that’s going on in several societies throughout the globe has got to be stopped. 

 

 


Example articles from the Privacy Project:

  • James Bennet: Do You Know What You’ve Given Up?
  • A. G. Sulzberger: How The Times Thinks About Privacy
  • Samantha Irby: I Don’t Care. I Love My Phone.
  • Tim Wu: How Capitalism Betrayed Privacy

 

 

Check out the top 10:

1) Alphabet (Google); Internet
2) Facebook; Internet
3) Amazon; Internet
4) Salesforce; Internet
5) Deloitte; Management Consulting
6) Uber; Internet
7) Apple; Consumer Electronics
8) Airbnb; Internet
9) Oracle; Information Technology & Services
10) Dell Technologies; Information Technology & Services

 

Why AI is a threat to democracy — and what we can do to stop it — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao and Amy Webb

Excerpt:

Universities must create space in their programs for hybrid degrees. They should incentivize CS students to study comparative literature, world religions, microeconomics, cultural anthropology and similar courses in other departments. They should champion dual degree programs in computer science and international relations, theology, political science, philosophy, public health, education and the like. Ethics should not be taught as a stand-alone class, something to simply check off a list. Schools must incentivize even tenured professors to weave complicated discussions of bias, risk, philosophy, religion, gender, and ethics in their courses.

One of my biggest recommendations is the formation of GAIA, what I call the Global Alliance on Intelligence Augmentation. At the moment people around the world have very different attitudes and approaches when it comes to data collection and sharing, what can and should be automated, and what a future with more generally intelligent systems might look like. So I think we should create some kind of central organization that can develop global norms and standards, some kind of guardrails to imbue not just American or Chinese ideals inside AI systems, but worldviews that are much more representative of everybody.

Most of all, we have to be willing to think about this much longer-term, not just five years from now. We need to stop saying, “Well, we can’t predict the future, so let’s not worry about it right now.” It’s true, we can’t predict the future. But we can certainly do a better job of planning for it.

 

 

 

The real reason tech struggles with algorithmic bias — from wired.com by Yael Eisenstat

Excerpts:

ARE MACHINES RACIST? Are algorithms and artificial intelligence inherently prejudiced? Do Facebook, Google, and Twitter have political biases? Those answers are complicated.

But if the question is whether the tech industry doing enough to address these biases, the straightforward response is no.

Humans cannot wholly avoid bias, as countless studies and publications have shown. Insisting otherwise is an intellectually dishonest and lazy response to a very real problem.

In my six months at Facebook, where I was hired to be the head of global elections integrity ops in the company’s business integrity division, I participated in numerous discussions about the topic. I did not know anyone who intentionally wanted to incorporate bias into their work. But I also did not find anyone who actually knew what it meant to counter bias in any true and methodical way.

 

But the company has created its own sort of insular bubble in which its employees’ perception of the world is the product of a number of biases that are engrained within the Silicon Valley tech and innovation scene.

 

 

Why Facebook’s banned “Research” app was so invasive — from wired.com by Louise Matsakislo

Excerpts:

Facebook reportedly paid users between the ages of 13 and 35 $20 a month to download the app through beta-testing companies like Applause, BetaBound, and uTest.


Apple typically doesn’t allow app developers to go around the App Store, but its enterprise program is one exception. It’s what allows companies to create custom apps not meant to be downloaded publicly, like an iPad app for signing guests into a corporate office. But Facebook used this program for a consumer research app, which Apple says violates its rules. “Facebook has been using their membership to distribute a data-collecting app to consumers, which is a clear breach of their agreement with Apple,” a spokesperson said in a statement. “Any developer using their enterprise certificates to distribute apps to consumers will have their certificates revoked, which is what we did in this case to protect our users and their data.” Facebook didn’t respond to a request for comment.

Facebook needed to bypass Apple’s usual policies because its Research app is particularly invasive. First, it requires users to install what is known as a “root certificate.” This lets Facebook look at much of your browsing history and other network data, even if it’s encrypted. The certificate is like a shape-shifting passport—with it, Facebook can pretend to be almost anyone it wants.

To use a nondigital analogy, Facebook not only intercepted every letter participants sent and received, it also had the ability to open and read them. All for $20 a month!

Facebook’s latest privacy scandal is a good reminder to be wary of mobile apps that aren’t available for download in official app stores. It’s easy to overlook how much of your information might be collected, or to accidentally install a malicious version of Fortnite, for instance. VPNs can be great privacy tools, but many free ones sell their users’ data in order to make money. Before downloading anything, especially an app that promises to earn you some extra cash, it’s always worth taking another look at the risks involved.

 

The information below is per Laura Kelley (w/ Page 1 Solutions)


As you know, Apple has shut down Facebook’s ability to distribute internal iOS apps. The shutdown comes following news that Facebook has been using Apple’s program for internal app distribution to track teenage customers for “research.”

Dan Goldstein is the president and owner of Page 1 Solutions, a full-service digital marketing agency. He manages the needs of clients along with the need to ensure protection of their consumers, which has become one of the top concerns from clients over the last year. Goldstein is also a former attorney so he balances the marketing side with the legal side when it comes to protection for both companies and their consumers. He says while this is another blow for Facebook, it speaks volumes for Apple and its concern for consumers,

“Facebook continues to demonstrate that it does not value user privacy. The most disturbing thing about this news is that Facebook knew that its app violated Apples terms of service and continued to distribute the app to consumers after it was banned from the App Store. This shows, once again, that Facebook doesn’t value user privacy and goes to great lengths to collect private behavioral data to give it a competitive advantage.The FTC is already investigating Facebook’s privacy policies and practices.As Facebook’s efforts to collect and use private data continue to be exposed, it risks losing market share and may prompt additional governmental investigations and regulation,” Goldstein says.

“One positive that comes out of this story is that Apple seems to be taking a harder line on protecting user privacy than other tech companies. Apple has been making noises about protecting user privacy for several months. This action indicates that it is attempting to follow through on its promises,” Goldstein says.

 

 

A landmark ruling gives new power to sue tech giants for privacy harms — from fastcompany.com by Katharine Schwab

Excerpt:

A unanimous ruling by the Illinois Supreme Court says that companies that improperly gather people’s data can be sued for damages even without proof of concrete injuries, opening the door to legal challenges that Facebook, Google, and other businesses have resisted.

 

 

Facebook’s ’10 year’ challenge is just a harmless meme — right? — from wired.com by Kate O’Neill

Excerpts:

But the technology raises major privacy concerns; the police could use the technology not only to track people who are suspected of having committed crimes, but also people who are not committing crimes, such as protesters and others whom the police deem a nuisance.

It’s tough to overstate the fullness of how technology stands to impact humanity. The opportunity exists for us to make it better, but to do that we also must recognize some of the ways in which it can get worse. Once we understand the issues, it’s up to all of us to weigh in.

 

Google, Facebook, and the Legal Mess Over Face Scanning — finance.yahoo.com by John Jeff Roberts

Excerpt:

When must companies receive permission to use biometric data like your fingerprints or your face? The question is a hot topic in Illinois where a controversial law has ensnared tech giants Facebook and Google, potentially exposing them to billions in dollars in liability over their facial recognition tools.

The lack of specific guidance from the Supreme Court has since produced ongoing confusion over what type of privacy violations can let people seek financial damages.

 

Also see:

 

 

From DSC:
The legal and legislative areas need to close the gap between emerging technologies and the law.

What questions should we be asking about the skillsets that our current and future legislative representatives need? Do we need some of our representatives to be highly knowledgeable, technically speaking? 

What programs and other types of resources should we be offering our representatives to get up to speed on emerging technologies? Which blogs, websites, journals, e-newsletters, listservs, and/or other communication vehicles and/or resources should they have access to?

Along these lines, what about our judges? Can we offer them some of these resources as well? 

What changes do our law schools need to make to address this?

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
Thanks to Mike Matthews for his item on LinkedIn for this.

 

 

 

On one hand XR-related technologies
show some promise and possibilities…

 

The AR Cloud will infuse meaning into every object in the real world — from venturebeat.com by Amir Bozorgzadeh

Excerpt:

Indeed, if you haven’t yet heard of the “AR Cloud”, it’s time to take serious notice. The term was coined by Ori Inbar, an AR entrepreneur and investor who founded AWE. It is, in his words, “a persistent 3D digital copy of the real world to enable sharing of AR experiences across multiple users and devices.”

 

Augmented reality invades the conference room — from zdnet.com by Ross Rubin
Spatial extends the core functionality of video and screen sharing apps to a new frontier.

 

 

The 5 most innovative augmented reality products of 2018 — from next.reality.news by Adario Strange

 

 

Augmented, virtual reality major opens at Shenandoah U. next fall — from edscoop.com by by Betsy Foresman

Excerpt:

“It’s not about how virtual reality functions. It’s about, ‘How does history function in virtual reality? How does biology function in virtual reality? How does psychology function with these new tools?’” he said.

The school hopes to prepare student for careers in a field with a market size projected to grow to $209.2 billion by 2022, according to Statista. Still at its advent, Whelan compared VR technology to the introduction of the personal computer.

 

VR is leading us into the next generation of sports media — from venturebeat.com by Mateusz Przepiorkowski

 

 

Accredited surgery instruction now available in VR — from zdnet.com by Greg Nichols
The medical establishment has embraced VR training as a cost-effective, immersive alternative to classroom time.

 

Toyota is using Microsoft’s HoloLens to build cars faster — from cnn.comby Rachel Metz

From DSC:
But even in that posting the message is mixed…some pros…some cons. Some things going well for XR-related techs…but for other things, things are not going very well.

 

 

…but on the other hand,
some things don’t look so good…

 

Is the Current Generation of VR Already Dead? — from medium.com by Andreas Goeldi

Excerpt:

Four years later, things are starting to look decidedly bleak. Yes, there are about 5 million Gear VR units and 3 million Sony Playstation VR headsets in market, plus probably a few hundred thousand higher-end Oculus and HTC Vive systems. Yes, VR is still being demonstrated at countless conferences and events, and big corporations that want to seem innovative love to invest in a VR app or two. Yes, Facebook just cracked an important low-end price point with its $200 Oculus Go headset, theoretically making VR affordable for mainstream consumers. Plus, there’s even more hype about Augmented Reality, which in a way could be a gateway drug to VR.

But it’s hard to ignore a growing feeling that VR is not developing as the industry hoped it would. So is that it again, we’ve seen this movie before, let’s all wrap it up and wait for the next wave of VR to come along about five years from now?

There are a few signs that are really worrying…

 

 

From DSC:
My take is that it’s too early to tell. We need to give things more time.

 

 

 

Why should anyone believe Facebook anymore? — from wired.com by Fred Vogelstein

Excerpt:

Just since the end of September, Facebook announced the biggest security breach in its history, affecting more than 30 million accounts. Meanwhile, investigations in November revealed that, among other things, the company had hired a Washington firm to spread its own brand of misinformation on other platforms, including borderline anti-Semitic stories about financier George Soros. Just two weeks ago, a cache of internal emails dating back to 2012 revealed that at times Facebook thought a lot more about how to make money off users’ data than about how to protect it.

Now, according to a New York Times investigation into Facebook’s data practices published Tuesday, long after Facebook said it had taken steps to protect user data from the kinds of leakages that made Cambridge Analytica possible, the company continued to sustain special, undisclosed data-sharing arrangements with more than 150 companies—some into this year. Unlike with Cambridge Analytica, the Times says, Facebook provided access to its users’ data knowingly and on a greater scale.

 

What has enabled them to deliver these apologies, year after year, was that these sycophantic monologues were always true enough to be believable. The Times’ story calls into question every one of those apologies—especially the ones issued this year.

There’s a simple takeaway from all this, and it’s not a pretty one: Facebook is either a mendacious, arrogant corporation in the mold of a 1980s-style Wall Street firm, or it is a company in much more disarray than it has been letting on. 

It’s hard to process this without finally realizing what it is that’s made us so angry with Silicon Valley, and Facebook in particular, in 2018: We feel lied to, like these companies are playing us, their users, for chumps, and they’re also laughing at us for being so naive.

 

 

Also related/see:

‘We’ve hit an inflection point’: Big Tech failed big-time in 2018 — from finance.yahoo.com by JP Mangalindan

Excerpt:

2018 will be remembered as the year the public’s big soft-hearted love affair with Big Tech came to a screeching halt.

For years, lawmakers and the public let massive companies like Facebook, Google, and Amazon run largely unchecked. Billions of people handed them their data — photos, locations, and other status-rich updates — with little scrutiny or question. Then came revelations around several high-profile data breaches from Facebook: a back-to-back series of rude awakenings that taught casual web-surfing, smartphone-toting citizens that uploading their data into the digital ether could have consequences. Google reignited the conversation around sexual harassment, spurring thousands of employees to walk out, while Facebook reminded some corners of the U.S. that racial bias, even in supposedly egalitarian Silicon Valley, remained alive and well. And Amazon courted well over 200 U.S. cities in its gaudy and protracted search for a second headquarters.

“I think 2018 was the year that people really called tech companies on the carpet about the way that they’ve been behaving conducting their business,” explained Susan Etlinger, an analyst at the San Francisco-based Altimeter Group. “We’ve hit an inflection point where people no longer feel comfortable with the ways businesses are conducting themselves. At the same time, we’re also at a point, historically, where there’s just so much more willingness to call out businesses and institutions on bigotry, racism, sexism and other kinds of bias.”

 

The public’s love affair with Facebook hit its first major rough patch in 2016 when Russian trolls attempted to meddle with the 2016 U.S. presidential election using the social media platform. But it was the Cambridge Analytica controversy that may go down in internet history as the start of a series of back-to-back, bruising controversies for the social network, which for years, served as the Silicon Valley poster child of the nouveau American Dream. 

 

 

 

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