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

 

AI hiring could mean robot discrimination will head to courts — from news.bloomberglaw.com by Chris Opfer

  • Algorithm vendors, employers grappling with liability issues
  • EEOC already looking at artificial intelligence cases

Excerpt:

As companies turn to artificial intelligence for help making hiring and promotion decisions, contract negotiations between employers and vendors selling algorithms are being dominated by an untested legal question: Who’s liable when a robot discriminates?

The predictive strength of any algorithm is based at least in part on the information it is fed by human sources. That comes with concerns the technology could perpetuate existing biases, whether it is against people applying for jobs, home loans, or unemployment insurance.

From DSC:
Are law schools and their faculty/students keeping up with these kinds of issues? Are lawyers, judges, attorney generals, and others informed about these emerging technologies?

 

A face-scanning algorithm increasingly decides whether you deserve the job — from washingtonpost.com by Drew Harwell
HireVue claims it uses artificial intelligence to decide who’s best for a job. Outside experts call it ‘profoundly disturbing.’

Excerpt:

An artificial intelligence hiring system has become a powerful gatekeeper for some of America’s most prominent employers, reshaping how companies assess their workforce — and how prospective employees prove their worth.

Designed by the recruiting-technology firm HireVue, the system uses candidates’ computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated “employability” score.

 

The system, they argue, will assume a critical role in helping decide a person’s career. But they doubt it even knows what it’s looking for: Just what does the perfect employee look and sound like, anyway?

“It’s a profoundly disturbing development that we have proprietary technology that claims to differentiate between a productive worker and a worker who isn’t fit, based on their facial movements, their tone of voice, their mannerisms,” said Meredith Whittaker, a co-founder of the AI Now Institute, a research center in New York.

 

From DSC:
If you haven’t been screened out by an algorithm from an Applicant Tracking System recently, then you haven’t been looking for a job in the last few years. If that’s the case:

  • Then you might not be very interested in this posting.
  • You will be very surprised in the future, when you do need to search for a new job.

Because the truth is, it’s very difficult to get the eyes of a human being to even look at your resume and/or to meet you in person. The above posting/article should disturb you even more. I don’t think that the programmers have programmed everything inside an experienced HR professional’s mind.

 

Also see:

  • In case after case, courts reshape the rules around AI — from muckrock.com
    AI Now Institute recommends improvements and highlights key AI litigation
    Excerpt:
    When undercover officers with the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office bought crack cocaine from someone in 2015, they couldn’t actually identify the seller. Less than a year later, though, Willie Allen Lynch was sentenced to 8 years in prison, picked through a facial recognition system. He’s still fighting in court over how the technology was used, and his case and others like it could ultimately shape the use of algorithms going forward, according to a new report.
 

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:

 

 

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.

 

‘Goliath is winning’: The biggest U.S. banks are set to automate away 200,000 jobs — from gizmodo.com by Brian Merchant

Excerpt (excerpt):

Over the next decade, U.S. banks, which are investing $150 billion in technology annually, will use automation to eliminate 200,000 jobs, thus facilitating “the greatest transfer from labor to capital” in the industry’s history. The call is coming from inside the house this time, too—both the projection and the quote come from a recent Wells Fargo report, whose lead author, Mike Mayo, told the Financial Times that he expects the industry to shed 10 percent of all of its jobs.

This, Mayo said, will lay the groundwork for, and I quote, “a golden age of banking efficiency.” The job cuts are slated to hit front offices, call centers, and branches the hardest, where 20-30 percent of those roles will be on the chopping block. They will be replaced by better ATMs, automated chatbots, and software instruments that take advantage of big data and cloud computing to make investment decisions.

“The next decade should be the biggest decade for banks in technology in history,” Mayo said.

 

From DSC:
How does this impact entry level positions? How does this help a young graduate who is trying to get out of the Catch 22 with job experience? How are colleges and universities helping young people navigate these quickly changing landscapes?

 

 

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.

 

Google’s war on deepfakes: As election looms, it shares ton of AI-faked videos — from zdnet.com by Liam Tung
Google has created 3,000 videos using actors and manipulation software to help improve detection.

Excerpt:

Google has released a huge database of deepfake videos that it’s created using paid actors. It hopes the database will bolster systems designed to detect AI-generated fake videos.

With the 2020 US Presidential elections looming, the race is on to build better systems to detect deepfake videos that could be used to manipulate and divide public opinion.

Earlier this month, Facebook and Microsoft announced a $10m project to create deepfake videos to help build systems for detecting them.

 

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.

 

Artificial Intelligence in Higher Education: Applications, Promise and Perils, and Ethical Questions — from er.educause.edu by Elana Zeide
What are the benefits and challenges of using artificial intelligence to promote student success, improve retention, streamline enrollment, and better manage resources in higher education?

Excerpt:

The promise of AI applications lies partly in their efficiency and partly in their efficacy. AI systems can capture a much wider array of data, at more granularity, than can humans. And these systems can do so in real time. They can also analyze many, many students—whether those students are in a classroom or in a student body or in a pool of applicants. In addition, AI systems offer excellent observations and inferences very quickly and at minimal cost. These efficiencies will lead, we hope, to increased efficacy—to more effective teaching, learning, institutional decisions, and guidance. So this is one promise of AI: that it will show us things we can’t assess or even envision given the limitations of human cognition and the difficulty of dealing with many different variables and a wide array of students.

A second peril in the use of artificial intelligence in higher education consists of the various legal considerations, mostly involving different bodies of privacy and data-protection law. Federal student-privacy legislation is focused on ensuring that institutions (1) get consent to disclose personally identifiable information and (2) give students the ability to access their information and challenge what they think is incorrect.7 The first is not much of an issue if institutions are not sharing the information with outside parties or if they are sharing through the Family Educational Rights and Privacy Act (FERPA), which means an institution does not have to get explicit consent from students. The second requirement—providing students with access to the information that is being used about them—is going to be an increasingly interesting issue.8 I believe that as the decisions being made by artificial intelligence become much more significant and as students become more aware of what is happening, colleges and universities will be pressured to show students this information. People are starting to want to know how algorithmic and AI decisions are impacting their lives.

My short advice about legal considerations? Talk to your lawyers. The circumstances vary considerably from institution to institution.

 

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