Last Week in AI #100

AI to detect microearthquakes, concerns with AI-predicted trustworthiness, and more!

Mini Briefs

Stanford AI Technology Detects Hidden Earthquakes - May Provide Warning of Big Quakes

Researchers at Stanford recently published a new machine learning algorithm capable of detecting small earthquakes much faster and with a much better accuracy than human experts. The algorithm, called Earthquake Transformer, leverages the now very popular Transformer neural network architecture widely used in processing seqeuntial data like speech and language. Analyzing seismic waves in some ways is quite similar to analyzing sound waves, and the algorithm, using Transformer's ability to learn to attend to important bits in the sequence to filter out noise, can precisely identify the start of microearthquakes from seismic waves.

Understanding patterns in the accumulation of small tremors over decades or centuries could be key to minimizing surprises – and damage – when a larger quake strikes. [...] By improving our ability to detect and locate these very small earthquakes, we can get a clearer view of how earthquakes interact or spread out along the fault, how they get started, even how they stop,”

This App Claims It Can Detect 'Trustworthiness.' It Can't

DeepScore, a company based in Tokyo, offers an AI-based product to loan and health insurance companies that supposedly can determine a person's trustworthiness by simply observing one's facial features while answering a few questions like "Where do you live? How do you intend to use the money? Do you have a history of cancer?" The service is attractive in countries where traditional consumer information, like credit scores, are not available.

However, trying to determine a person's trustworthiness, or any non-visible features from videos of faces, raises major red flags. There is no "reliable science to indicate that [...] facial expressions or the inflections of [...] voice are proxies for [...] internal mental and emotional states." Such responses also vary greatly from person to person and culture to culture. There is also additional privacy concerns with the product, which could not operate in countries that have GDPR or GDPR-like regulations.

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