Last Week in AI #112
Google's reputation with AI researchers, EU AI regulations, and more!
The recent firings of Timnit Gebru and Margaret Mitchell, co-leads of Google’s Ethical AI team, have sparked enormous backlash against the company. Just as Google has aimed to place itself as a responsible center for AI research, its recent actions have resulted in a potentially irreversible loss of reputation. Scientists have raised concerns about Google’s willingness to suppress research while Google employees have quit in the wake of the firings. Google’s position as one of the most impactful companies pursuing AI research means that the effects of lost trust are pervasive.
With GDPR, Europe has shown itself to be more willing to regulate novel technologies than other nations around the world. Recently proposed EU regulations on artificial intelligence include a number of rules, including outright bans on AI systems that could manipulate human behavior and AI systems used for social scoring. The regulations aim to implement intense oversight for AI systems deemed to be high-risk and impose fines on companies that fail to comply with regulations. Experts have called the language of the regulations vague and open to loopholes, and have raised the concern that the EU needs to balance ensuring AI systems are beneficial with maintaining competitiveness.
Advances & Business
Wonder Dynamics raises $2.5M seed to equip indie filmmakers with AI-powered VFX - “Practically every film production these days needs some kind of visual effects work, but independent creators often lack the cash or expertise to get that top-shelf CG.”
The reality of America’s AI talent shortages - “The concern about an artificial intelligence, or AI, workforce shortage in the United States is rapidly becoming a top national security priority. Calls for additional legislative action are mounting as the national security community sees talent as a key enabler in outcompeting China.”
2.6 Million Fake Faces: AI Generated People Are The Future Of The Metaverse, Celebrity, And Perhaps … All Of Us - “If Generated Photos keeps making millions of fake people, they might be hearing from the models’ union. But the AI company might also be inventing the future of how we engage with each other online in the metaverse.”
Microsoft in advanced talks to buy Nuance for about $16 billion, announcement could come Monday - “Microsoft is in advanced talks to acquire speech-recognition company Nuance Communications, a person familiar with the discussions told CNBC on Sunday. A transaction could be signed as early as Sunday and announced as soon as Monday, the person said.”
This AI Could Help Wipe Out Colon Cancer - “Michael Wallace has performed hundreds of colonoscopies in his 20 years as a gastroenterologist. He thinks he’s pretty good at recognizing the growths, or polyps, that can spring up along the ridges of the colon and potentially turn into cancer. But he isn’t always perfect.”
Golnoosh Farnadi receives Google AI 2021 Research Scholar Award - “Dr. Farnadi has dedicated much of her academic career to developing novel machine learning and AI models to tackle fairness and ethics in AI. Her recent work has mainly focused on addressing bias and algorithmic discrimination in decision-making models.”
AI Chip Startup Groq, Founded By Ex-Googlers, Raises $300 Million To Power Autonomous Vehicles And Data Centers - “Jonathan Ross left Google to launch next-generation semiconductor startup Groq in 2016. Today, the Mountain View, California-based firm said that it had raised $300 million led by Tiger Global Management and billionaire investor Dan Sundheim’s D1 Capital as it officially launched into public view.”
Snorkel AI scores $35M Series B to automate data labeling in machine learning - “One of the more tedious aspects of machine learning is providing a set of labels to teach the machine learning model what it needs to know. Snorkel AI wants to make it easier for subject matter experts to apply those labels programmatically, and today the startup announced a $35 million Series B.”
Amazon’s New Algorithm Will Set Workers’ Schedules According to Muscle Use - “The pace and intensity of work in Amazon’s warehouses is notorious, and injuries are disturbingly common.”
At Kumbh, AI-equipped cameras to zoom in on those without masks - “With hordes turning up for the Kumbh mela in Haridwar amid a surge in Covid cases, the Uttarakhand Police is using Artificial Intelligence (AI) to zoom in on those not wearing masks.”
Why We Need New Benchmarks for AI - “Artificial intelligence has beaten many of the tests researchers have come up with. The challenge now is to create benchmarks that can make AI truly useful.”
Mozilla winds down DeepSpeech development, announces grant program - “Join GamesBeat Summit 2021 this April 28-29. Register for a free or VIP pass today. In 2017, Mozilla launched DeepSpeech, an initiative incubated within the machine learning team at Mozilla Research focused on open sourcing an automatic speech recognition model.”
Concerns & Hype
Smuggled Nvidia Cards Found After High-Speed Boat Chase - “Only a week after a Chinese bust involving cheat makers and luxury cars, authorities have seized hundreds of smuggled Nvidia cards after a speedboat chase in the waters near Hong Kong international airport.”
Big Tech’s guide to talking about AI ethics - “AI researchers often say good machine learning is really more art than science. The same could be said for effective public relations.”
Mapping AI’s Societal Impact - “AI is more than just code and algorithms. It’s an industry built on a global network of resource extraction, human labor, and data collection.”
The new lawsuit that shows facial recognition is officially a civil rights issue - “On January 9, 2020, Detroit Police drove to the suburb of Farmington Hill and arrested Robert Williams in his driveway while his wife and young daughters looked on. Williams, a Black man, was accused of stealing watches from a luxury store, and held overnight in jail.”
Black women, AI, and overcoming historical patterns of abuse - “Join GamesBeat Summit 2021 this April 28-29. Register for a free or VIP pass today. After a 2019 research paper demonstrated that commercially available facial analysis tools fail to work for women with dark skin, AWS executives went on the attack.”
New Book Massively Debunks Our “AI Overlords”: Ain’t Gonna Happen - “AI researcher and tech entrepreneur Eric J. Larson has just published a book, The Myth of Artificial Intelligence: Why Computers Can’t Think the Way We Do (Harvard University Press, 2021).”
Expert Opinions & Discussion within the field
AI Is Not Actually an Existential Threat to Humanity, Scientists Say - “We encounter artificial intelligence (AI) every day. AI describes computer systems that are able to perform tasks that normally require human intelligence. When you search something on the internet, the top results you see are decided by AI.”
Geoffrey Hinton has a hunch about what’s next for AI - “Back in November, the computer scientist and cognitive psychologist Geoffrey Hinton had a hunch. After a half-century’s worth of attempts—some wildly successful—he’d arrived at another promising insight into how the brain works and how to replicate its circuitry in a computer.”
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