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:

 

A handful of US cities have banned government use of facial recognition technology due to concerns over its accuracy and privacy. WIRED’s Tom Simonite talks with computer vision scientist and lawyer Gretchen Greene about the controversy surrounding the use of this technology.

 

 

Russian hackers behind ‘world’s most murderous malware’ probing U.S. power grid — from digitaltrends.com Georgina Torbet

 

U.S. Escalates Online Attacks on Russia’s Power Grid — from nytimes.com by David Sanger and Nicole Perlroth

 

 

 

 

 

 

From DSC:
As many times happens with humans use of technologies, some good and some bad here. Exciting. Troubling. Incredible. Alarming.

Companies, please make sure you’re not giving the keys to a $137,000, powerful Maserati to your “16 year olds.”

Just because we can…

And to you “16 year olds out there”…ask for / seek wisdom. Ask yourself whether you should be developing what you are developing. Is it helpful or hurtful to society? Don’t just collect the paycheck. You have a responsibility to humankind.

To whom much is given…

 

Facial recognition smart glasses could make public surveillance discreet and ubiquitous — from theverge.com by James Vincent; with thanks to Mr. Paul Czarapata, Ed.D. out on Twitter for this resource
A new product from UAE firm NNTC shows where this tech is headed next. <– From DSC: though hopefully not!!!

Excerpt:

From train stations and concert halls to sport stadiums and airports, facial recognition is slowly becoming the norm in public spaces. But new hardware formats like these facial recognition-enabled smart glasses could make the technology truly ubiquitous, able to be deployed by law enforcement and private security any time and any place.

The glasses themselves are made by American company Vuzix, while Dubai-based firm NNTC is providing the facial recognition algorithms and packaging the final product.

 

From DSC…I commented out on Twitter:

Thanks Paul for this posting – though I find it very troubling. Emerging technologies race out ahead of society. It would be interested in knowing the age of the people developing these technologies and if they care about asking the tough questions…like “Just because we can, should we be doing this?”

 

Addendum on 6/12/19:

 

‘Robots’ Are Not ‘Coming for Your Job’—Management Is — from gizmodo.com by Brian Merchant; with a special thanks going out to Keesa Johnson for her posting this out on LinkedIn

A robot is not ‘coming for’, or ‘stealing’ or ‘killing’ or ‘threatening’ to take away your job. Management is.

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

At first glance, this might like a nitpicky semantic complaint, but I assure you it’s not—this phrasing helps, and has historically helped, mask the agency behind the *decision* to automate jobs. And this decision is not made by ‘robots,’ but management. It is a decision most often made with the intention of saving a company or institution money by reducing human labor costs (though it is also made in the interests of bolstering efficiency and improving operations and safety). It is a human decision that ultimately eliminates the job.

 

From DSC:
I’ve often said that if all the C-Suite cares about is maximizing profits — instead of thinking about their fellow humankind and society as a whole —  we’re in big trouble.

If the thinking goes, “Heh — it’s just business!” <– Again, then we’re in big trouble here.

Just because we can, should we? Many people should be reflecting upon this question…and not just members of the C-Suite.

 

 

 

San Francisco becomes first city to bar police from using facial recognition— from cnet.com by Laura Hautala
It won’t be the last city to consider a similar law.

San Francisco becomes first city to bar police from using facial recognition

Excerpt:

The city of San Francisco approved an ordinance on Tuesday [5/14/19] barring the police department and other city agencies from using facial recognition technology on residents. It’s the first such ban of the technology in the country.

The ordinance, which passed by a vote of 8 to 1, also creates a process for the police department to disclose what surveillance technology they use, such as license plate readers and cell-site simulators that can track residents’ movements over time. But it singles out facial recognition as too harmful to residents’ civil liberties to even consider using.

“Facial surveillance technology is a huge legal and civil liberties risk now due to its significant error rate, and it will be worse when it becomes perfectly accurate mass surveillance tracking us as we move about our daily lives,” said Brian Hofer, the executive director of privacy advocacy group Secure Justice.

For example, Microsoft asked the federal government in July to regulate facial recognition technology before it gets more widespread, and said it declined to sell the technology to law enforcement. As it is, the technology is on track to become pervasive in airports and shopping centers and other tech companies like Amazon are selling the technology to police departments.

 

Also see:

 

People, Power and Technology: The Tech Workers’ View — from doteveryone.org.uk

Excerpt:

People, Power and Technology: The Tech Workers’ View is the first in-depth research into the attitudes of the people who design and build digital technologies in the UK. It shows that workers are calling for an end to the era of moving fast and breaking things.

Significant numbers of highly skilled people are voting with their feet and leaving jobs they feel could have negative consequences for people and society. This is heightening the UK’s tech talent crisis and running up employers’ recruitment and retention bills. Organisations and teams that can understand and meet their teams’ demands to work responsibly will have a new competitive advantage.

While Silicon Valley CEOs have tried to reverse the “techlash” by showing their responsible credentials in the media, this research shows that workers:

    • need guidance and skills to help navigate new dilemmas
    • have an appetite for more responsible leadership
    • want clear government regulation so they can innovate with awareness

Also see:

  • U.K. Tech Staff Quit Over Work On ‘Harmful’ AI Projects — from forbes.com by Sam Shead
    Excerpt:
    An alarming number of technology workers operating in the rapidly advancing field of artificial intelligence say they are concerned about the products they’re building. Some 59% of U.K. tech workers focusing on AI have experience of working on products that they felt might be harmful for society, according to a report published on Monday by Doteveryone, the think tank set up by lastminute.com cofounder and Twitter board member Martha Lane Fox.

 

 

 

Watch Salvador Dalí Return to Life Through AI — from interestingengineering.com by
The Dalí Museum has created a deepfake of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí that brings him back to life.

Excerpt:

The Dalí Museum has created a deepfake of surrealist artist Salvador Dalí that brings him back to life. This life-size deepfake is set up to have interactive discussions with visitors.

The deepfake can produce 45 minutes of content and 190,512 possible combinations of phrases and decisions taken by the fake but realistic Dalí. The exhibition was created by Goodby, Silverstein & Partners using 6,000 frames of Dalí taken from historic footage and 1,000 hours of machine learning.

 

From DSC:
While on one hand, incredible work! Fantastic job! On the other hand, if this type of deepfake can be done, how can any video be trusted from here on out? What technology/app will be able to confirm that a video is actually that person, actually saying those words?

Will we get to a point that says, this is so and so, and I approved this video. Or will we have an electronic signature? Will a blockchain-based tech be used? I don’t know…there always seems to be pros and cons to any given technology. It’s how we use it. It can be a dream, or it can be a nightmare.

 

 

DARPA is reportedly eyeing a high-tech contact lens straight out of ‘Mission: Impossible’ — from taskandpurpose.com by Jared Keller

 

Just because we can...does not mean we should.

Excerpt:

The Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency (DARPA) is reportedly interested in a new wirelessly-connected contact lens recently unveiled in France, the latest in the agency’s ongoing search for small-scale technology to augment U.S. service members’ visual capabilities in the field.

 

From DSC:
We may not be there yet (and in my mind, that’s a good thing). But when this tech gets further developed and gets its foot in the door — military style — it may then expand its reach and scope. Then it gets integrated into other areas of society. If many people were very uncomfortable having someone walk in a public place wearing/using a pair of Google Glasses, how will they/we feel about this one? Speaking for myself, I don’t like it.

 

5 Myths of AI — from thejournal.com by Dian Schaffhauser

Excerpt:

No, artificial intelligence can’t replace the human brain, and no, we’ll never really be able to make AI bias-free. Those are two of the 10 myths IT analyst and consulting firm Gartner tackled in its recent report, Debunking Myths and Misconceptions About Artificial Intelligence.”

 

 

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)

 

 

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. 

 

 

The growing marketplace for AI ethics — from forbes.com by Forbes Insights with Intel AI

Excerpt:

As companies have raced to adopt artificial intelligence (AI) systems at scale, they have also sped through, and sometimes spun out, in the ethical obstacle course AI often presents.

AI-powered loan and credit approval processes have been marred by unforeseen bias. Same with recruiting tools. Smart speakers have secretly turned on and recorded thousands of minutes of audio of their owners.

Unfortunately, there’s no industry-standard, best-practices handbook on AI ethics for companies to follow*—at least not yet. Some large companies, including Microsoft and Google, are developing their own internal ethical frameworks.

A number of think tanks, research organizations, and advocacy groups, meanwhile, have been developing a wide variety of ethical frameworks and guidelines for AI.

 

*Insert DSC:
Read this as a very powerful, chaotic, massive WILD, WILD, WEST.  Can law schools, legislatures, governments, businesses, and more keep up with this new pace of technological change?

 

Also see:

 

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