Last Week in AI #105
An AI rebel alliance, Google fires Margaret Mitchell, and more!
More than 20 AI startups have together created the AI Infrastructure Alliance to build a software and hardware stack for machine learning and adopt common standards. Dan Jeffries, chief tech evangelist at Pachyderm who will serve as director of the alliance, said the group began to form from conversations beginning more than a year ago. The businesses, together, aim to offer an alternative to offerings from Big Tech cloud providers. Jeffries claims that the giants merely build infrastructures to lock customers in, while the alliance aims to build a stack that works in multiple environments. The alliance will initially focus on small partnerships between developers working on tools and frameworks and creating test software for integration.
The firing of Dr. Timnit Gebru from Google AI has been followed by a flurry of controversy and internal discontent. Dr. Gebru received a great deal of public support and two Google employees even quit in response to her ejection from the company. Among her most fervent supporters was her co-lead of the Ethical AI team, Margaret Mitchell, who posted a public letter about the incident that was strongly critical of Google. Mitchell had recently been locked out of her Google email and investigated for her handling of company data. Google has stated that she used automated scripts to retrieve internal documents and shared those documents outside the company. Google fired Mitchell on Friday, February 19, and has since made steps to restructure its Ethical AI team.
Advances & Business
This OpenAI GPT-3 Powered Demo Is A Glimpse Of NPCs In The Future - "The developer of Modbox linked together Windows speech recognition, OpenAI’s GPT-3 AI, and Replica’s natural speech synthesis for a unique demo: arguably one of the first artificially intelligent virtual characters."
This cute book explains AI to children, without scary Terminators - "[A] new book by Matteo Loglio, cofounder of the product and interaction studio oio, aims to make AI accessible to children."
How Google's hot air balloon surprised its creators - "The gaggle of Google employees peered at their computer screens in bewilderment. They had spent many months honing an algorithm designed to steer an unmanned hot air balloon all the way from Puerto Rico to Peru. But something was wrong."
AI armed with multiple senses could gain more flexible intelligence - "Human intelligence emerges from our combination of senses and language abilities. Maybe the same is true for artificial intelligence."
AI smashes video game high scores by remembering its past success - "An artificial intelligence that can remember its previous successes and use them to create new strategies has achieved record high scores on some of the hardest video games on classic Atari consoles."
Why machine learning strategies fail - "Most companies are struggling to develop working artificial intelligence strategies, according to a new survey by cloud services provider Rackspace Technology."
Concerns & Hype
Boston Dynamics: Robot Cop Dog Should Not Be Used To Intimidate - "[A] Pynchonian company which essentially sells virality... recently purchased Spot, a dog-shaped robot, from Boston Dynamics, and mounted a paintball gun on its head... The stunt is meant to draw attention to the fact that 'this thing will definitely be used by police and the military to murder people.'"
Exclusive: Google pledges changes to research oversight after internal revolt - "In remarks at a staff meeting last Friday, Google Research executives said they were working to regain trust after the company ousted two prominent women and rejected their work, according to an hour-long recording, the content of which was confirmed by two sources."
Israel's autonomous 'robo-snipers' and suicide drones raise ethical dilemma - "In recent years, the use of autonomous weapons has seen a dramatic increase on modern battlefields - and the proliferation has increased international concern over the ethics governing their use."
AI researchers detail obstacles to data sharing in Africa - "AI researchers say data sharing is a key part of economic growth in Africa but that it faces a number of common obstacles, including the threat of data colonialism."
Analysis & Policy
Biden should double down on Trump’s policy of promoting AI within government - "Trump’s recent executive order on promoting the use of artificial intelligence in government agencies, however, presents a rare bipartisan sentiment and promises to improve government policies and services across the board. The current administration should not only maintain this policy, it should make it a priority."
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