Greta Thunberg is the youngest TIME Person of the Year ever. Here’s how she made history — from time.com

Excerpt:

The politics of climate action are as entrenched and complex as the phenomenon itself, and Thunberg has no magic solution. But she has succeeded in creating a global attitudinal shift, transforming millions of vague, middle-of-the-night anxieties into a worldwide movement calling for urgent change. She has offered a moral clarion call to those who are willing to act, and hurled shame on those who are not. She has persuaded leaders, from mayors to Presidents, to make commitments where they had previously fumbled: after she spoke to Parliament and demonstrated with the British environmental group Extinction Rebellion, the U.K. passed a law requiring that the country eliminate its carbon footprint. She has focused the world’s attention on environmental injustices that young indigenous activists have been protesting for years. Because of her, hundreds of thousands of teenage “Gretas,” from Lebanon to Liberia, have skipped school to lead their peers in climate strikes around the world.

 

Young people! You CAN and will make a big impact/difference!

 

Accessibility at a Crossroads: Balancing Legal Requirements, Frivolous Lawsuits, and Legitimate Needs — from er.educause.edu by Martin LaGrow

Excerpt:

Changes in legal requirements for IT accessibility have prompted some to pursue self-serving legal actions. To increase access to users of all abilities, colleges and universities should articulate their commitment to accessibility and focus on changing institutional culture.

 

Why AI is a threat to democracy – and what we can do to stop it — from asumetech.com by Lawrence Cole

Excerpts:

In the US, however, we also have a tragic lack of foresight. Instead of creating a grand strategy for AI or for our long-term futures, the federal government has removed the financing of scientific and technical research. The money must therefore come from the private sector. But investors also expect a certain return. That is a problem. You cannot plan your R&D breakthroughs when working on fundamental technology and research. It would be great if the big tech companies had the luxury of working very hard without having to organize an annual conference to show off their newest and best whiz bang thing. Instead, we now have countless examples of bad decisions made by someone in the G-MAFIA, probably because they worked quickly. We begin to see the negative effects of the tension between doing research that is in the interest of humanity and making investors happy.

The problem is that our technology has become increasingly sophisticated, but our thinking about what free speech is and what a free market economy looks like has not become that advanced. We tend to resort to very basic interpretations: free speech means that all speech is free, unless it conflicts with defamation laws, and that’s the end of the story. That is not the end of the story. We need to start a more sophisticated and intelligent conversation about our current laws, our emerging technology, and how we can make the two meet halfway.

 

So I absolutely believe that there is a way forward. But we have to come together and bridge the gap between Silicon Valley and DC, so that we can all steer the boat in the same direction.

— Amy Webb, futurist, NYU professor, founder of the Future Today Institute

 

Also see:

“FRONTLINE investigates the promise and perils of artificial intelligence, from fears about work and privacy to rivalry between the U.S. and China. The documentary traces a new industrial revolution that will reshape and disrupt our lives, our jobs and our world, and allow the emergence of the surveillance society.”

The film has five distinct messages about:

1. China’s AI Plan
2. The Promise of AI
3. The Future of Work
4. Surveillance Capitalism
5. The Surveillance State

 

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.

 

 

Deepfakes: When a picture is worth nothing at all — from law.com by Katherine Forrest

Excerpt:

“Deepfakes” is the name for highly realistic, falsified imagery and sound recordings; they are digitized and personalized impersonations. Deepfakes are made by using AI-based facial and audio recognition and reconstruction technology; AI algorithms are used to predict facial movements as well as vocal sounds. In her Artificial Intelligence column, Katherine B. Forrest explores the legal issues likely to arise as deepfakes become more prevalent.

 

Drones from CVS and Walgreens are finally here—and they’re bringing Band-Aids — from fastcompany.com by Ruth Reader
With UPS and Google sister company Wing as partners, the big pharmacies are starting to deliver pills, Cheez-Its, and first-aid supplies by drone.

From DSC:
Add those drones to the following amassing armies:

 

 

Are smart cities the pathway to blockchain and cryptocurrency adoption? — from forbes.com by Chrissa McFarlane

Excerpts:

At the recent Blockchain LIVE 2019 hosted annually in London, I had the pleasure of giving a talk on Next Generation Infrastructure: Building a Future for Smart Cities. What exactly is a “smart city?” The term refers to an overall blueprint for city designs of the future. Already half the world’s population lives in a city, which is expected to grow to sixty-five percent in the next five years. Tackling that growth takes more than just simple urban planning. The goal of smart cities is to incorporate technology as an infrastructure to alleviate many of these complexities. Green energy, forms of transportation, water and pollution management, universal identification (ID), wireless Internet systems, and promotion of local commerce are examples of current of smart city initiatives.

What’s most important to a smart city, however, is integration. None of the services mentioned above exist in a vacuum; they need to be put into a single system. Blockchain provides the technology to unite them into a single system that can track all aspects combined.

 

From DSC:
There are many examples of the efforts/goals of creating smart cities (throughout the globe) in the above article. Also see the article below.

 

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).

 

 

YouTube’s algorithm hacked a human vulnerability, setting a dangerous precedent — from which-50.com by Andrew Birmingham

Excerpt (emphasis DSC):

Even as YouTube’s recommendation algorithm was rolled out with great fanfare, the fuse was already burning. A project of The Google Brain and designed to optimise engagement, it did something unforeseen — and potentially dangerous.

Today, we are all living with the consequences.

As Zeynep Tufekci, an associate professor at the University of North Carolina, explained to attendees of Hitachi Vantara’s Next 2019 conference in Las Vegas this week, “What the developers did not understand at the time is that YouTube’ algorithm had discovered a human vulnerability. And it was using this [vulnerability] at scale to increase YouTube’s engagement time — without a single engineer thinking, ‘is this what we should be doing?’”

 

The consequence of the vulnerability — a natural human tendency to engage with edgier ideas — led to YouTube’s users being exposed to increasingly extreme content, irrespective of their preferred areas of interest.

“What they had done was use machine learning to increase watch time. But what the machine learning system had done was to discover a human vulnerability. And that human vulnerability is that things that are slightly edgier are more attractive and more interesting.”

 

From DSC:
Just because we can…

 

 

Three threats posed by deepfakes that technology won’t solve — from technologyreview.com by Angela Chen
As deepfakes get better, companies are rushing to develop technology to detect them. But little of their potential harm will be fixed without social and legal solutions.

Excerpt:

3) Problem: Deepfake detection is too late to help victims
With deepfakes, “there’s little real recourse after that video or audio is out,” says Franks, the University of Miami scholar.

Existing laws are inadequate. Laws that punish sharing legitimate private information like medical records don’t apply to false but damaging videos. Laws against impersonation are “oddly limited,” Franks says—they focus on making it illegal to impersonate a doctor or government official. Defamation laws only address false representations that portray the subject negatively, but Franks says we should be worried about deepfakes that falsely portray people in a positive light too.

 

The blinding of justice: Technology, journalism and the law — from thehill.com by Kristian Hammond and Daniel Rodriguez

Excerpts:

The legal profession is in the early stages of a fundamental transformation driven by an entirely new breed of intelligent technologies and it is a perilous place for the profession to be.

If the needs of the law guide the ways in which the new technologies are put into use they can greatly advance the cause of justice. If not, the result may well be profits for those who design and sell the technologies but a legal system that is significantly less just.

We are entering an era of technology that goes well beyond the web. The law is seeing the emergence of systems based on analytics and cognitive computing in areas that until now have been largely immune to the impact of technology. These systems can predict, advise, argue and write and they are entering the world of legal reasoning and decision making.

Unfortunately, while systems built on the foundation of historical data and predictive analytics are powerful, they are also prone to bias and can provide advice that is based on incomplete or imbalanced data.

We are not arguing against the development of such technologies. The key question is who will guide them. The transformation of the field is in its early stages. There is still opportunity to ensure that the best intentions of the law are built into these powerful new systems so that they augment and aid rather than simply replace.

 

From DSC:
This is where we need more collaborations between those who know the law and those who know how to program, as well as other types of technologists.

 

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.

 

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?

 

This state is expected to become the first to collect prosecutor data, with breakdowns by race — from abajournal.com by Debra Cassens Weiss

Excerpt:

Connecticut is expected to become the first state to collect statewide criminal case data from prosecutors broken down by the defendants’ race, sex, ethnicity, age and ZIP code.

The bill requires the state to collect statistics on arrests, diversionary programs, case dispositions, plea agreements, cases going to trial, court fines and fees, and restitution orders.

Lamont said the bill will provide the public with greater insight into prosecutors’ decisions. “

 

 

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