Last Week in AI #137: Intel's neuromorphic chips, Chinese AI ethics guidelines, Clearview AI's new facial recognition tools, and more!
Intel's new neuromorphic chip is faster and easier to use, China's new guidelines on privacy protection from AI algorithms, and Clearview AI's new tools that can deblur and "de-mask" face photos
Intel has unveiled its second iteration of a neuromorphic chip called Loihi 2. Its operations resemble how neurons work, with communication and computation done by spiking signals. This is unlikely deep neural networks, which while loosely inspired by the brain, have fundamentally different architectures. Neuromorphic chips are more energy efficient than conventional chips, and they can be faster at certain calculations as well. Loihi 1 only supported calculations with limited precision and complexity, and it was difficult to integrate with other Loihi 1 chips as well as with conventional computers. Loihi 2 brings improvements in these areas and it also fits 8x as many neurons as Loihi 1 in half the area. Currently Intel has no plans to commercialize these chips, as their unique design require a highly custom manufacturing process. If neuromorphic chips do become products, they will likely be used as domain-specific accelerators first, and not general purpose chips.
Chinese AI gets ethical guidelines for the first time, aligning with Beijing’s goal of reining in Big Tech
On the heels of the EU's Draft Artificial Intelligence Act, China's Ministry of Science and Technology has released a set of ethical guidelines for AI emphasizing user autonomy and privacy protections. Analysts have commented that China is taking a heavy-handed approach and paying particular attention to companies whose business models rely on recommendation systems--these same companies have drawn ire in countries like the United States. China has already laid out a three-year plan to tighten regulation over algorithms. Those who study Chinese politics will know that while Beijing manages to pass sensible laws with a fair amount of consensus, there is difficulty in implementing those laws. In this light, while China now has guidelines that are more detailed than previous documents, it remains to be seen how well these guidelines will be enforced. But with a tight grip over the tech sector, it is not impossible to see how Beijing could work with developers of hardware and software in smartphones and other AI-enabled devices to implement ideas like giving users the "right to accept or reject the service of an AI" and "stop interactions with these systems whenever they want."
Clearview AI is a company selling a facial recognition service, primarily to law enforcement agencies in the US. It has collected billions of photos from across a huge number of websites, and has included a huge number of people in its database without asking for their approval. This has sparked many controversies and lawsuits in the past couple years. Despite all that, the company is pushing ahead with its products as its cofounder and CEO Hoan Ton-That told WIRED that they now collected more than 10 billion images. He also shared that the company is developing new features such as “deblur” and “mask removal” tools. According to Ton-That, Clearview has 3,100 law enforcement and government customers.
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