Self-driving car woes, hiding from facial recognition, and more!
Last Week in AI #115
Concerns over privacy and security have been growing around the prevalence of commercial facial recognition systems. Researchers have developed new tools to combat the use of such systems, which are often trained on data of people's faces without their consent. Two recent approaches are detailed in this article. One is similar to existing adversarial attacks, where pixel-level perturbations are added to images such that a trained facial recognition model can no longer recognize the faces in the image. Another is a new technique that changes images in such a way that tricks a model to think it's making no errors at training time, so it doesn't learn anything about the altered image. While these methods are working now against commercial facial recognition services, like Amazon's Rekognition, researchers concede that the field is a "cat-and-mouse arms race," and more robust facial recognition technology will be developed in the future that would require new tools to counter.
Waymo launched its driverless taxi service in Pheonix, Arizona last October, but it has not expanded its service since then. This article speculates on two of the potential reasons. The first one is cost - maintaining a fleet of vehciles, supporting operational staff that can remote tele-operate vehicles, and having roadside assistance vans that follow self-driving cars around might be expensive to scale. However, one could easily make the argument that scaling would actually drive the cost down. Expensive hardware production (building self-driving cars) typically exhibit economies of scale. And, if there were more Waymo cars on the road, one roadside assistance van could be in charge of an entire area, instead of following individual cars around.
The second and more convincing reason might be the demand for taxi services is just too low in the suburbs where car ownership is almost a necessity. Demand is higher in dense, crowded cities, but these profitable areas for taxis are also the most challenge for self-driving cars. This might in part explain why other self-driving car companies, like Cruise, have prioritized testing in cities like San Francisco since day one, and why Waymo seems to have recently shifted their attention to city driving as well.
Advances & Business
Baidu rolls out paid driverless taxi service in Beijing - "Baidu Apollo Robotaxis move on a street at the Shougang Park in Beijing, Sunday, May 2, 2021. Chinese tech giant Baidu rolled out its paid driverless taxi service on Sunday, making it the first company that commercialized autonomous driving operations in China."
China makes "world's largest satellite image database" to train AI better - "The fine-grained object recognition in high-resolution remote sensing imagery (FAIR1M) database was tens or even hundreds of times larger than similar data sets used in other countries, it said."
Microsoft open-sources Counterfit, an AI security risk assessment tool - "Microsoft today open-sourced Counterfit, a tool designed to help developers test the security of AI and machine learning systems."
Hive raises $85M for AI-based APIs to help moderate content, identify objects and more - "As content moderation continues to be a critical aspect of how social media platforms work - one that they may be pressured to get right, or at least do better in tackling - a startup that has built a set of data and image models to help with that, along with any other tasks that require automat"
Sprout.ai raises $11m Series A led by Octopus Ventures to apply AI to insurance claims - "It was way back in 2018 that Omni:us appeared to disrupt the insurance market by applying AI to this most legacy of all industries. It has now gone on to raise $44.1 million. In a similar vein, Shift Technology in France has raised $100 million."
Argo AI Readies Its Own Lidar Sensor For Ford Automated Vehicles - "Like many if not most developers of automated driving systems (ADS) Pittsburgh-based Argo AI has relied on Velodyne lidar sensors as a key component of its sensor suite ever since the company was founded in late-2016."
Symbio Robotics - The Tech Behind Ford Motor Company's AI-enabled Assembly Line - "Pioneering the next frontier of manufacturing through a combination of artificial intelligence (AI) and industrial robotics, Symbio Robotics, today announced its work with Ford Motor Company to deploy an AI-controlled robot at the automaker's Livonia Transmission Plant."
How Intel is leveraging AI to drive sales - "The company expedited plans to apply AI throughout the customer lifecycle over the past 12 months, particularly on the marketing side of the house, where the goal was to tap AI to help identify and solve selling pain points."
Apple hires ex-Google AI scientist who resigned after colleagues' firings - "Apple Inc (AAPL.O) said on Monday it has hired former distinguished Google (GOOGL.O) scientist Samy Bengio, who left the search giant amid turmoil in its artificial intelligence research department."
I was terrible at crosswords so I built an AI to do them' - "Matt Ginsberg is good at a lot of things - he is an AI scientist, author, playwright, magician and stunt plane pilot. But he isn't very good at crosswords. In fact, despite writing them for the New York Times, he says that when they are published, he often cannot solve his own."
Now for AI's Latest Trick: Writing Computer Code - "Programs such as GPT-3 can compose convincing text. Some people are using the tool to automate software development and hunt for bugs. "
Robots at Work and Play - "Gathered here are recent images of robotic technology, including an animatronic dolphin, a virtual Olympic torchbearer, a Martian explorer, a fried-chicken deliverer, firefighting machines, a seabed-mining robot, and much more."
Concerns & Hype
The autonomous vehicle world is shrinking - it's overdue - "The AV industry has promised too much for too long, and has delivered too little"
Why A.I. Moonshots Miss - "Ambitious predictions about the future powers of computers keep turning out to be wrong."
It Began As an AI-Fueled Dungeon Game. It Got Much Darker - "The game touted its use of the GPT-3 text generator. Then the algorithm started to generate disturbing stories, including sex scenes involving children."
No, AI will not be replacing you soon - "There's a lot of talk about AI, but it can be an emotive subject, with talk of computers replacing humans. We have some news for you, they won't. At least not unless we want them to."
U.S. banks deploy AI to monitor customers, workers amid tech backlash - "Several U.S. banks have started deploying camera software that can analyze customer preferences, monitor workers and spot people sleeping near ATMs, even as they remain wary about possible backlash over increased surveillance, more than a dozen banking and technology sources told Reuters."
Deepfake detectors and datasets exhibit racial and gender bias, USC study shows - "Some of the datasets used to train deepfake detection systems might underrepresent people of a certain gender or with specific skin colors. "
Analysis & Policy
The Computers Are Getting Better at Writing - "Kafka's "The Metamorphosis" has a famous opening: "One morning, when Gregor Samsa woke from troubled dreams, he found himself transformed in his bed into a horrible vermin." The rest of the story follows, logically and ludicrously, from that original degrading miracle."
Exclusive: White House launches new artificial intelligence website - "The White House has launched a new website, AI.gov, to make artificial intelligence research more accessible across the nation, Axios has learned. Why it matters: The U.S. once led significantly in the global artificial intelligence race, but now risks being overtaken by China."
Expert Opinions & Discussion within the field
Rethinking large conferences - "As the end of the pandemic draws near, one of the many things I am excited about is to be able to go to physical conferences again. A year of virtual conferences have shown us that videoconferencing is in no way a viable replacement for a real conference; at best it's a complement."
What's Explainable AI? - "More accessible compute resources, and the ever increasing size of training datasets have enabled the machine learning (ML) models that power AI to come a long way since the first expert systems were developed during the 1960s."
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