Google and Microsoft warn that AI may do dumb things — from wired.com by Tom Simonite

Excerpt:

Alphabet likes to position itself as a leader in AI research, but it was six months behind rival Microsoft in warning investors about the technology’s ethical risks. The AI disclosure in Google’s latest filing reads like a trimmed down version of much fuller language Microsoft put in its most recent annual SEC report, filed last August:

“AI algorithms may be flawed. Datasets may be insufficient or contain biased information. Inappropriate or controversial data practices by Microsoft or others could impair the acceptance of AI solutions. These deficiencies could undermine the decisions, predictions, or analysis AI applications produce, subjecting us to competitive harm, legal liability, and brand or reputational harm.”

 

Chinese company leaves Muslim-tracking facial recognition database exposed online — from by Catalin Cimpanu
Researcher finds one of the databases used to track Uyghur Muslim population in Xinjiang.

Excerpt:

One of the facial recognition databases that the Chinese government is using to track the Uyghur Muslim population in the Xinjiang region has been left open on the internet for months, a Dutch security researcher told ZDNet.

The database belongs to a Chinese company named SenseNets, which according to its website provides video-based crowd analysis and facial recognition technology.

The user data wasn’t just benign usernames, but highly detailed and highly sensitive information that someone would usually find on an ID card, Gevers said. The researcher saw user profiles with information such as names, ID card numbers, ID card issue date, ID card expiration date, sex, nationality, home addresses, dates of birth, photos, and employer.

Some of the descriptive names associated with the “trackers” contained terms such as “mosque,” “hotel,” “police station,” “internet cafe,” “restaurant,” and other places where public cameras would normally be found.

 

From DSC:
Readers of this blog will know that I’m generally pro-technology. But especially focusing in on that last article, to me, privacy is key here. For which group of people from which nation is next? Will Country A next be tracking Christians? Will Country B be tracking people of a given sexual orientation? Will Country C be tracking people with some other characteristic?

Where does it end? Who gets to decide? What will be the costs of being tracked or being a person with whatever certain characteristic one’s government is tracking? What forums are there for combating technologies or features of technologies that we don’t like or want?

We need forums/channels for raising awareness and voting on these emerging technologies. We need informed legislators, senators, lawyers, citizens…we need new laws here…asap.

 

 

 

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.

 

 

 

C-Level View | Feature:
Technology Change: Closing the Knowledge Gap — A Q&A with Mary Grush & Daniel Christian

Excerpts:

Technology changes quickly. People change slowly. The rate of technology change often outpaces our ability to understand it.

It has caused a gap between what’s possible and what’s legal. For example, facial recognition seems to be starting to show up all around us — that’s what’s possible. But what’s legal?

The overarching questions are: What do we really want from these technologies? What kind of future do we want to live in?

Those law schools that expand their understanding of emerging technologies and lead the field in the exploration of related legal issues will achieve greater national prominence.

Daniel Christian

 

 

 

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.

 

 

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.

 

 

When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready?


 

UIX: When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready? — from rapidgrowthmedia.com by Matthew Russell

Excerpts (emphasis DSC):

“Here in the United States, if we were to personify things a bit, it’s almost like society is anxiously calling out to an older sibling (i.e., emerging technologies), ‘Heh! Wait up!!!'” Christian says. “This trend has numerous ramifications.”

Out of those ramifications, Christian names three main points that society will have to address to fully understand, make use of, and make practical, future technologies.

  1. The need for the legal/legislative side of the world to close the gap between what’s possible and what’s legal
  2. The need for lifelong learning and to reinvent oneself
  3. The need to make pulse-checking/futurism an essential tool in the toolbox of every member of the workforce today and in the future

 

When the future comes to West Michigan, will we be ready?

Photos by Adam Bird

 

From DSC:
The key thing that I was trying to relay in my contribution towards Matthew’s helpful article was that we are now on an exponential trajectory of technological change. This trend has ramifications for numerous societies around the globe, and it involves the legal realm as well. Hopefully, all of us in the workforce are coming to realize our need to be constantly pulse-checking the relevant landscapes around us. To help make that happen, each of us needs to be tapping into the appropriate “streams of content” that are relevant to our careers so that our knowledgebases are as up-to-date as possible. We’re all into lifelong learning now, right?

Along these lines, increasingly there is a need for futurism to hit the mainstream. That is, when the world is moving at 120+mph, the skills and methods that futurists follow must be better taught and understood, or many people will be broadsided by the changes brought about by emerging technologies. We need to better pulse-check the relevant landscapes, anticipate the oncoming changes, develop potential scenarios, and then design the strategies to respond to those potential scenarios.

 

 

Apple’s Tim Cook says it’s time for America to get serious about data privacy — from barrons.com by David Marino-Nachison

Excerpt:

Apple CEO Tim Cook, who has said the U.S. should pass a federal data-privacy law, on Thursday said legislation should also give consumers more information about who buys and sells their data.

In a column published by Time, Cook said the Federal Trade Commission should set up a “clearinghouse” that requires data brokers to register and lets consumers “track the transactions that have bundled and sold their data from place to place, and giving users the power to delete their data on demand, freely, easily and…

 

 

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.

 

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.

 

 

 

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