Radar trends to watch: October 2020 — from oreilly.com

Excerpt:

This month, the big surprise is that there’s no significant technology news about COVID. And there is more news than ever about legislation and regulation. I suspect that the legal system will be a big driver for technology over the next year. Another trend that doesn’t quite count as technology news but that definitely bears watching is that college enrollment in the US is down. Grad schools are up, 4 year colleges are down slightly; the big hit is in 2 year colleges. COVID is probably the biggest contributing factor, but regardless of the cause, this is an inauspicious trend.

 

Acts of meaning: How AI-based interviewing will transform career preparation in higher education — from er.educause.edu by Alan Jones, Suzan Harkness and Nathan Mondragon

Excerpt:

Machines parrot and correlate information. They do not comprehend or synthesize information the way humans do. Factors such as accents in pronunciation, word ambiguity (especially if a word has multiple meanings), deeply coded biases, limited association data sets, narrow and limited network layers used in job screening, and static translations will continue to provide valid ground for caution in placing too much weight or attributing too much confidence in AI in its present form. Nonetheless, AI has crept into job candidate screening, the medical field, business analytics, higher education, and social media. What is currently essential is establishing an understanding of how best to harness and shape the use of AI to ensure it is equitable, valid, and reliable and to understand the shifting paradigm that professional career counselors play on campus as AI becomes more ubiquitous.

There appear to be three points worth considering: the AI interview in general, the predominance of word choice, and expressiveness as read by facial coding.

From DSC:
Until there is a lot more diversity within the fields of computer science and data science, I’m not as hopeful that biases can be rooted out. My niece, who worked for Microsoft for many years, finally left the company. She was tired of fighting the culture there. The large tech companies will need to do a lot better if AI is going to make FAIR and JUST inroads.

Plus, consider how many biases there are!

 

IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft abandon law enforcement face recognition market — from which-50.com by Andrew Birmingham

Excerpt:

Three global tech giants — IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft — have all announced that they will no longer sell their face recognition technology to police in the USA, though each announcement comes with its own nuance.

The new policy comes in the midst of ongoing national demonstrations in the US about police brutality and more generally the subject of racial inequality in the country under the umbrella of the Black Lives Matter movement.

From DSC:
While I didn’t read the fine print (so I don’t know all of the “nuances” they are referring to) I see this as good news indeed! Well done whomever at those companies paused, and thought…

 

…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 6/18/20:

  • Why Microsoft and Amazon are calling on Congress to regulate facial recognition tech — from finance.yahoo.com by Daniel HowleyExcerpt:
    The technology, which can be used to identify suspects in things like surveillance footage, has faced widespread criticism after studies found it can be biased against women and people of color. And according to at least one expert, there needs to be some form of regulation put in place if these technologies are going to be used by law enforcement agencies.“If these technologies were to be deployed, I think you cannot do it in the absence of legislation,” explained Siddharth Garg, assistant professor of computer science and engineering at NYU Tandon School of Engineering, told Yahoo Finance.
 

From DSC:
On one hand:

Next-gen supercomputers are fast-tracking treatments for the coronavirus in a race against time  — from cnbc.com by Charlie Wood

Key points:

  • Scientists are using IBM’s Summit, the world’s fastest supercomputer, to help find promising candidate drugs to fight the coronavirus epidemic.
  • Using the computer’s muscle, researchers digitally simulated how 8,000 different molecules would interact with the virus.
  • The project was able to identify 77 candidate molecules that other researchers can now test in trials.
  • Supercomputing is also being used to tackle other major global issues, such as climate change.

On the other hand:

AI could help with the next pandemic—but not with this one — from technologyreview.comby Will Douglas Heaven
Some things need to change if we want AI to be useful next time, and you might not like them.

“The hype outstrips the reality. In fact, the narrative that has appeared in many news reports & breathless press releases—that AI is a powerful new weapon against diseases—is only partly true & risks becoming counterproductive.”

 

 

FTI 2020 Trend Report for Entertainment, Media, & Technology [FTI]

 

FTI 2020 Trend Report for Entertainment, Media, & Technology — from futuretodayinstitute.com

Our 3rd annual industry report on emerging entertainment, media and technology trends is now available.

  • 157 trends
  • 28 optimistic, pragmatic and catastrophic scenarios
  • 10 non-technical primers and glossaries
  • Overview of what events to anticipate in 2020
  • Actionable insights to use within your organization

KEY TAKEAWAYS

  • Synthetic media offers new opportunities and challenges.
  • Authenticating content is becoming more difficult.
  • Regulation is coming.
  • We’ve entered the post-fixed screen era.
  • Voice Search Optimization (VSO) is the new Search Engine Optimization (SEO).
  • Digital subscription models aren’t working.
  • Advancements in AI will mean greater efficiencies.

 

 

Emerging Tech Trend: Patient-Generated Health Data — from futuretodayinstitute.com — Newsletter Issue 124

Excerpt:

Near-Futures Scenarios (2023 – 2028):

Pragmatic: Big tech continues to develop apps that are either indispensably convenient, irresistibly addictive, or both, and we pay for them, not with cash, but with the data we (sometimes unwittingly) let the apps capture. But for the apps for health care and medical insurance, the stakes could literally be life-and-death. Consumers receive discounted premiums, co-pays, diagnostics and prescription fulfillment, but the data we give up in exchange leaves them more vulnerable to manipulation and invasion of privacy.

Catastrophic: Profit-driven drug makers exploit private health profiles and begin working with the Big Nine. They use data-based targeting to over prescribe patients, netting themselves billions of dollars. Big Pharma target and prey on people’s addictions, mental health predispositions and more, which, while undetectable on an individual level, take a widespread societal toll.

Optimistic: Health data enables prescient preventative care. A.I. discerns patterns within gargantuan data sets that are otherwise virtually undetectable to humans. Accurate predictive algorithms identifies complex combinations of risk factors for cancer or Parkinson’s, offers early screening and testing to high-risk patients and encourages lifestyle shifts or treatments to eliminate or delay the onset of serious diseases. A.I. and health data creates a utopia of public health. We happily relinquish our privacy for a greater societal good.

Watchlist: Amazon; Manulife Financial; GE Healthcare; Meditech; Allscripts; eClinicalWorks; Cerner; Validic; HumanAPI; Vivify; Apple; IBM; Microsoft; Qualcomm; Google; Medicare; Medicaid; national health systems; insurance companies.

 

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.

 

 

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
 

A new immersive classroom uses AI and VR to teach Mandarin Chinese — from technologyreview.com by Karen Hao
Students will learn the language by ordering food or haggling with street vendors on a virtual Beijing street.

Excerpt:

Often the best way to learn a language is to immerse yourself in an environment where people speak it. The constant exposure, along with the pressure to communicate, helps you swiftly pick up and practice new vocabulary. But not everyone gets the opportunity to live or study abroad.

In a new collaboration with IBM Research, Rensselaer Polytechnic Institute (RPI), a university based in Troy, New York, now offers its students studying Chinese another option: a 360-degree virtual environment that teleports them to the busy streets of Beijing or a crowded Chinese restaurant. Students get to haggle with street vendors or order food, and the environment is equipped with different AI capabilities to respond to them in real time.

 

 

We Built an ‘Unbelievable’ (but Legal) Facial Recognition Machine — from nytimes.com by Sahil Chinoy

“The future of human flourishing depends upon facial recognition technology being banned,” wrote Woodrow Hartzog, a professor of law and computer science at Northeastern, and Evan Selinger, a professor of philosophy at the Rochester Institute of Technology, last year. ‘Otherwise, people won’t know what it’s like to be in public without being automatically identified, profiled, and potentially exploited.’ Facial recognition is categorically different from other forms of surveillance, Mr. Hartzog said, and uniquely dangerous. Faces are hard to hide and can be observed from far away, unlike a fingerprint. Name and face databases of law-abiding citizens, like driver’s license records, already exist. And for the most part, facial recognition surveillance can be set up using cameras already on the streets.” — Sahil Chinoy; per a weekly e-newsletter from Sam DeBrule at Machine Learnings in Berkeley, CA

Excerpt:

Most people pass through some type of public space in their daily routine — sidewalks, roads, train stations. Thousands walk through Bryant Park every day. But we generally think that a detailed log of our location, and a list of the people we’re with, is private. Facial recognition, applied to the web of cameras that already exists in most cities, is a threat to that privacy.

To demonstrate how easy it is to track people without their knowledge, we collected public images of people who worked near Bryant Park (available on their employers’ websites, for the most part) and ran one day of footage through Amazon’s commercial facial recognition service. Our system detected 2,750 faces from a nine-hour period (not necessarily unique people, since a person could be captured in multiple frames). It returned several possible identifications, including one frame matched to a head shot of Richard Madonna, a professor at the SUNY College of Optometry, with an 89 percent similarity score. The total cost: about $60.

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
What do you think about this emerging technology and its potential impact on our society — and on other societies like China? Again I ask…what kind of future do we want?

As for me, my face is against the use of facial recognition technology in the United States — as I don’t trust where this could lead.

This wild, wild, west situation continues to develop. For example, note how AI and facial recognition get their foot in the door via techs installed years ago:

The cameras in Bryant Park were installed more than a decade ago so that people could see whether the lawn was open for sunbathing, for example, or check how busy the ice skating rink was in the winter. They are not intended to be a security device, according to the corporation that runs the park.

So Amazon’s use of facial recognition is but another foot in the door. 

This needs to be stopped. Now.

 

Facial recognition technology is a menace disguised as a gift. It’s an irresistible tool for oppression that’s perfectly suited for governments to display unprecedented authoritarian control and an all-out privacy-eviscerating machine.

We should keep this Trojan horse outside of the city. (source)

 

Six global banks sign up to issue stablecoins on IBM’s now-live Blockchain Network — from cointelegraph.com by Marie Huillet

 

 

From DSC:
For the law schools, relevant lawyers, legislators, and judges out there…how soon before you are addressing blockchain-related issues, questions, and topics? My guess…? Sooner than you think.

 

 

Amazon is pushing facial technology that a study says could be biased — from nytimes.com by Natasha Singer
In new tests, Amazon’s system had more difficulty identifying the gender of female and darker-skinned faces than similar services from IBM and Microsoft.

Excerpt:

Over the last two years, Amazon has aggressively marketed its facial recognition technology to police departments and federal agencies as a service to help law enforcement identify suspects more quickly. It has done so as another tech giant, Microsoft, has called on Congress to regulate the technology, arguing that it is too risky for companies to oversee on their own.

Now a new study from researchers at the M.I.T. Media Lab has found that Amazon’s system, Rekognition, had much more difficulty in telling the gender of female faces and of darker-skinned faces in photos than similar services from IBM and Microsoft. The results raise questions about potential bias that could hamper Amazon’s drive to popularize the technology.

 

 

From DSC:
In this posting, I discussed an idea for a new TV show — a program that would be both entertaining and educational. So I suppose that this posting is a Part II along those same lines. 

The program that came to my mind at that time was a program that would focus on significant topics and issues within American society — offered up in a debate/presentation style format.

I had envisioned that you could have different individuals, groups, or organizations discuss the pros and cons of an issue or topic. The show would provide contact information for helpful resources, groups, organizations, legislators, etc. These contacts would be for learning more about a subject or getting involved with finding a solution for that problem.

OR

…as I revist that idea today…perhaps the show could feature humans versus an artificial intelligence such as IBM’s Project Debater:

 

 

Project Debater is the first AI system that can debate humans on complex topics. Project Debater digests massive texts, constructs a well-structured speech on a given topic, delivers it with clarity and purpose, and rebuts its opponent. Eventually, Project Debater will help people reason by providing compelling, evidence-based arguments and limiting the influence of emotion, bias, or ambiguity.

 

 

 

Big tech may look troubled, but it’s just getting started — from nytimes.com by David Streitfeld

Excerpt:

SAN JOSE, Calif. — Silicon Valley ended 2018 somewhere it had never been: embattled.

Lawmakers across the political spectrum say Big Tech, for so long the exalted embodiment of American genius, has too much power. Once seen as a force for making our lives better and our brains smarter, tech is now accused of inflaming, radicalizing, dumbing down and squeezing the masses. Tech company stocks have been pummeled from their highs. Regulation looms. Even tech executives are calling for it.

The expansion underlines the dizzying truth of Big Tech: It is barely getting started.

 

“For all intents and purposes, we’re only 35 years into a 75- or 80-year process of moving from analog to digital,” said Tim Bajarin, a longtime tech consultant to companies including Apple, IBM and Microsoft. “The image of Silicon Valley as Nirvana has certainly taken a hit, but the reality is that we the consumers are constantly voting for them.”

 

Big Tech needs to be regulated, many are beginning to argue, and yet there are worries about giving that power to the government.

Which leaves regulation up to the companies themselves, always a dubious proposition.

 

 

 

5 things you will see in the future “smart city” — from interestingengineering.com by Taylor Donovan Barnett
The Smart City is on the horizon and here are some of the crucial technologies part of it.

5 Things You Will See in the Future of the Smart City

Excerpt:

A New Framework: The Smart City
So, what exactly is a smart city? A smart city is an urban center that hosts a wide range of digital technology across its ecosystem. However, smart cities go far beyond just this definition.

Smart cities use technology to better population’s living experiences, operating as one big data-driven ecosystem.

The smart city uses that data from the people, vehicles, buildings etc. to not only improve citizens lives but also minimize the environmental impact of the city itself, constantly communicating with itself to maximize efficiency.

So what are some of the crucial components of the future smart city? Here is what you should know.

 

 

 

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