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Last Week in AI News #77: AI's struggles in 2020, robots rising in the pandemic, Chinese AI surveillance, and more!
2020 has been a hectic time, even for AI. Algorithms are struggling to keep up with the changing social and cultural norms that we’ve adopted during the pandemic. For workplace AI, computer vision models struggle to caption new scenes or situations that we find ourselves working or living in. Furthermore, with masks now commonplace, facial recognition systems are struggling to consistently and accurately identify individuals. These changes show us that we still have a long way to go before computers can still see and interpret the world accurately. This newfound responsibility lies on data scientists and researchers who build products with models that affect real world systems to ensure that models are accurate and robust.
TikTok’s young and highly engaged userbase is not the only reason why Microsoft is interested in an acquisition. TikTok poses as a video data mine for Microsoft to keep up with its biggest AI rivals, who all have their own video services. Google owns Youtube, Amazon owns Twitch, and Facebook has its own video stores sourced from its millions of users. With TikTok, Microsoft can finally have a large source of consumer video data to train new AI models as well as understand consumer trends.
Millions of Americans Have Lost Jobs in the Pandemic — And Robots and AI Are Replacing Them Faster Than Ever
With many people displaced due to the pandemic, it appears that this has accelerated corporate adoption of automation technologies. With companies on survival mode to figure out how to operate without their usual workforce capacity, economists estimate that 42% of lost jobs are lost forever. To adapt to this rapid change, employee upskilling in traditional service industry jobs are of high importance. Certifications for IT support and various technology centered jobs are quickly becoming the next domain for people displaced by the pandemic to recover from job losses.
President Xi’s ambitions to use AI’s analytics to push China to the forefront of surveillance technologies has ramifications for geopolitics in the region and serves as the beginnings for digital systems that could identify dissenters in real-time. In a country with a highly engaged online population with 1 billion mobile phones, each data point can be time-stamped and geo-tagged. For vulnerable groups like China’s Uighurs who have faced decades of discrimination and land confiscation, pervasive surveillance can lead to more suppressive measures that endanger their livelihoods and religion.
Advances & Business
Here’s an exclusive look at the pitch deck AI health startup Perspectum used to raise $36 million - Founded in 2012 by Rajarshi Banerjee, in partnership with the University of Oxford, Perspectum’s diagnostic tools uses cutting-edge software to extract data from MRI scans and aid in the detection of chronic liver disease.
Self-driving startup Argo AI hits $7.5 billion valuation - Autonomous vehicle technology startup Argo AI is valued at $7.5 billion, just a little more than three years after the company burst on the scene with a $1 billion investment from Ford. The official valuation was confirmed Thursday nearly two months after VW Group finalized its $2.
Cloak your photos with this AI privacy tool to fool facial recognition - Ubiquitous facial recognition is a serious threat to privacy. The idea that the photos we share are being collected by companies to train algorithms that are sold commercially is worrying. Anyone can buy these tools, snap a photo of a stranger, and find out who they are in seconds.
MLPerf Training v0.7 Results Released: Google & NVIDIA Lead the Race - The industry-standard MLPerf benchmark today released the results of the third round of its ongoing ML Training Systems competition.
AI Face/Off — Fawkes vs. NicOrNot - I’m sure you’ve seen the news. Company after company is trying to identify who you are with facial recognition.
AI for AG: Production machine learning for agriculture - How did farming affect your day today? If you live in a city, you might feel disconnected from the farms and fields that produce your food. Agriculture is a core piece of our lives, but we often take it for granted.
Casetext Using GPT-3 For Compose Brief Creator - Legal research pioneer, Casetext, has said that it has used GPT-3 in relation to its Compose legal brief creation tool.
How participants in the Alexa Prize Grand Challenge 3 approached the competition - Human beings are social creatures, and conversations are what connect us—they enable us to share everything from the prosaic to the profound with the people that matter to us.
Hypotenuse AI wants to take the strain out of copywriting for ecommerce - Imagine buying a dress online because a piece of code sold you on its ‘flattering, feminine flair’ — or convinced you ‘romantic floral details’ would outline your figure with ‘timeless style’.
Here’s why Apple believes it’s an AI leader—and why it says critics have it all wrong - Machine learning (ML) and artificial intelligence (AI) now permeate nearly every feature on the iPhone, but Apple hasn’t been touting these technologies like some of its competitors have.
16 Minutes on the News #37: GPT-3, Beyond the Hype - In this special “2x” explainer episode of 16 Minutes — where we talk about what’s in the news, and where we are on the long arc of various tech trends — we cover all the buzz around GPT-3, the pre-trained machine learning model that’s optimized to do a variety of natural-language process
Concerns & Hype
AI Bias: How YouTube Looks To Conspiracists & Climate Deniers - Artificial intelligence has proven invaluable in catering to online experiences, but it can have unintended results as is the case for YouTube where conspiracy theorists and climate deniers see things very differently than other users.
The problems AI has today go back centuries - Algorithmic discrimination and “ghost work” didn’t appear by accident. Understanding their long, troubling history is the first step toward fixing them.
AI-Generated Text Is the Scariest Deepfake of All - Pervasive generated text has the potential to warp our social communication ecosystem. When pundits and researchers tried to guess what sort of manipulation campaigns might threaten the 2018 and 2020 elections, misleading AI-generated videos often topped the list.
Cheap, Easy Deepfakes Are Getting Closer to the Real Thing - There are many photos of Tom Hanks, but none like the images of the leading everyman shown at the Black Hat computer security conference Wednesday: They were made by machine learning algorithms, not a camera.
The hack that could make face recognition think someone else is you - Face recognition is rapidly proliferating as a way to identify people at airports and in high security scenarios—but it’s far from foolproof. Researchers demonstrated on Wednesday that they can fool a modern face recognition system into seeing someone who isn’t there.
Whiteness of AI erases people of colour from our ‘imagined futures’, researchers argue - This is according to experts at the University of Cambridge, who suggest that current portrayals and stereotypes about AI risk creating a “racially homogenous” workforce of aspiring technologists, building machines with bias baked into their algorithms.
Analysis & Policy
A very short history of some times we solved AI - 1956: Logic Theorist. Arguably, pure mathematics is the crowning achievement of human thought. Now we have a machine that can prove new mathematical theorems as well as a human.
The new frontier in AI is amazing, promising … and a little scary. - I’ve never really worried that computers might be gunning for my job. To tell the truth, often, I pray for it.
AI Is All the Rage. So Why Aren’t More Businesses Using It? - In late 2017, AB InBev, the Belgian giant behind Budweiser and other beers, began adding a little artificial intelligence to its brewing recipe.
Privacy Advocates Herald Bill to Curb Corporate Use of ‘Enormously Invasive’ Facial Recognition Technology - New legislation put forward by Sens. Jeff Merkley and Bernie Sanders on Tuesday would curb the use of facial recognition software by corporations and help to slow the spread of “abusive” surveillance, according to leading privacy advocates.
AI is learning when it should and shouldn’t defer to a human - Is a doctor or an AI system better at diagnosing a particular patient? This machine learning tool makes the call. The context: Studies show that when people and AI systems work together, they can outperform either one acting alone.
A.I. Is Not Going to Magically Deliver a Coronavirus Vaccine - In late February, a paper appeared in the journal Cell with encouraging news regarding one of the world’s most persistent public health problems.
Evil AI: These are the 20 most dangerous crimes that artificial intelligence will create - From targeted phishing campaigns to new stalking methods: there are plenty of ways that artificial intelligence could be used to cause harm if it fell into the wrong hands.
The pandemic has changed how criminals hide their cash—and AI tools are trying to sniff it out - Lockdown has forced criminals to launder money in new ways, but older tech has been slower to adapt than AI techniques. When economies across the world shut down earlier this year, it wasn’t only business owners and consumers who had to adapt. Criminals suddenly had a problem on their hands.
Why ‘human-like’ is a low bar for most AI projects - Awww, look! It thinks it’s people! Show me a human-like machine and I’ll show you a faulty piece of tech. The AI market is expected to eclipse $300 billion by 2025. And the vast majority of the companies trying to cash in on that bonanza are marketing some form of “human-like” AI.
The UK is dropping an immigration algorithm that critics say is racist - The system for processing visa applications is the target of an ongoing lawsuit by civil rights campaigners. The news: The UK Home Office has said it will stop using an algorithm to process visa applications that critics claim is racially biased.
Macy’s Sued for Use of Clearview Facial-Recognition Software - Macy’s Inc. was targeted in one of the first lawsuits against users of the controversial facial-recognition software made by startup Clearview AI.
Meet the computer scientist and activist who got Big Tech to stand down - Joy Buolamwini got Jeff Bezos to back down. In June, Amazon announced that it was issuing a moratorium on police use of its controversial facial recognition software, called Rekognition, which it had sold to law enforcement for years in defiance of privacy advocates.
Expert Opinions & Discussion within the field
AI bias and the problems of ethical locality - Metacomment: This post is based on personal reflections. It’s not a scholarly post: I mostly just cite things that I had already read or that people suggested to me.
As Its GPT-3 Model Wows the World, OpenAI CEO Suggests ‘the Hype Is Way Too Much’ - OpenAI’s 175 billion parameter language model GPT-3 has gone viral once again, with a flurry of tech tweets celebrating the many innovative new applications — ranging from automatic code and short story generators to fully functioning search engines — that have leveraged the GPT-3 API OpenAI