As social media is increasingly being used as people's primary source for news online, there is a rising threat from the spread of malign and false information. With an absence of human editors in news feeds and a growth of artificial online activity, it has become easier for various actors to manipulate the news that people consume. RAND Europe was commissioned by the UK Ministry of Defence's (MOD) Defence and Security Accelerator (DASA) to develop a method for detecting the malign use of information online. The study was contracted as part of DASA's efforts to help the UK MOD develop its behavioural analytics capability. Our study found that online communities are increasingly being exposed to junk news, cyber bullying activity, terrorist propaganda, and political reputation boosting or smearing campaigns.
A recent virtual event addressed another such issue: the potential impact machines, imbued with artificial intelligence, may have on the economy and the financial system. The event was organised by the Bank of England, in collaboration with CEPR and the Brevan Howard Centre for Financial Analysis at Imperial College. What follows is a summary of some of the recorded presentations. The full catalogue of videos are available on the Bank of England's website. In his presentation, Stuart Russell (University of California, Berkeley), author of the leading textbook on artificial intelligence (AI), gives a broad historical overview of the field since its emergence in the 1950s, followed by insight into more recent developments.
Leader in AI-powered cancer diagnostics, Ibex Medical Analytics and provider of digital pathology services in the NHS, LDPath, have announced the UK's first rollout of clinical grade AI application for cancer detection in pathology. This platform will support pathologists in enhancing diagnostic accuracy and efficiency. Over the years, a global increase in cancer cases has coincided with a decline in the number of pathologists around the world. Traditional pathology involves manual processes that have remained the same for years. These processes involve slides to be analysed by pathologists using microscopes, and reporting is often carried out on pieces of paper.
UK regulators have criticized a browser deal between Apple and Google as a "significant" barrier to search engine competition. The CMA claims that current laws are not enough to properly manage and regulate large technology companies and their platforms, such as Apple, Google, or Facebook, and in particular, deals between different entities can become barriers to innovation and competition. Within the report, the agency highlights a deal made in 2019 between Google and Apple, in which the former paid roughly £1.2 billion ($1.5bn) to become the default search engine on a variety of mobile devices and systems in the United Kingdom alone. According to the regulators, the iPhone and iPad maker received the lion's share of this payment. "Rival search engines to Google that we spoke to highlighted these default payments as one of the most significant factors inhibiting competition in the search market," the CMA says.
Thanks to open banking, fintech early adopters likely already have accounts that round up transactions to boost savings or connect to third-party tools for loan applications, budget management and more. But the new wave of fintech startups are proving there's much more that can be done using open banking, the two-year-old mandate from UK regulators that required banks to easily allow their customers to share their data with third parties such as apps. "Open banking offers people the chance to get personalised, tailored support to help them manage their money by allowing regulated companies to securely analyse their bank data," says Lubaina Manji, senior programme manager at Nesta Challenges, one of the organisations behind the Open Up 2020 Challenge, alongside the Open Banking Implementation Entity (OBIE). "It's enabled the creation of new services and tools to help people with every aspect of money management – from budgeting to investing, and much, much more, all in a safe and secure way." And some of the innovations from finalists in the Open Up 2020 Challenge have surprised with their ingenuity and customer focus, she says, citing Sustainably's round-up tool for automated charity donations, and Kalgera's neuroscience-informed AI to help spot fraud targeting people with dementia – two projects that highlight the purpose-driven idea behind open banking and the aim to get financial support to show who need it the most.
With Ibex's Galen Prostate solution, prostate biopsies will be reviewed using a highly accurate AI algorithm that checks for inconsistencies between the pathologist's findings and what it detects. In the case of a significant discrepancy, the pathologists will be notified, creating a valuable layer of protection against mistakes, potentially saving many patients from false negatives. In an ongoing audit at the request of the NHS Trust, their AI algorithm was able to spot otherwise unnoticed prostate cancer, showing just how valuable this tech is. The use of AI shows great promise in healthcare, and it's reassuring to see plans for its implementation in cancer screening. Without doubt, it won't be long before we see artificial intelligence being a crucial tool to all avenues of medicine.
The UK's Competition and Markets Authority (CMA) has called on the UK government to create "a new pro-competition regulatory regime" that can control Facebook, Google and other technology companies that are primarily funded by digital advertising. The non-ministerial department has completed a study announced last July and concluded that "existing laws are not suitable for effective regulation." To combat the problem, it's recommending that a new Digital Markets Unit be set up with major oversight and powers. The Unit was first proposed in a report published by the Digital Competition Expert Panel (DCEP) -- a group chaired by Professor Jason Furman, a former chief economist when Barack Obama was president -- in March 2019. The CMA believes it should have a code of conduct that ensures Facebook and Google don't veer into "exploitative or exclusionary practices," or do anything that is likely to reduce public trust and transparency.
Passengers travelling between the UK and some countries will no longer have to quarantine, under the government's air bridges scheme. Most people entering the UK currently have to quarantine for two weeks, but the new rules will make travel easier. The list of countries will be announced later this week and come into effect shortly. Air bridges will allow smoother travel between two countries with relatively low levels of coronavirus. They work in both directions, so people can travel between them without having to quarantine on arrival.
With a large backlog of appointments caused by coronavirus, some hospitals in England and Wales have started using algorithms to prioritise patients most urgently in need of care and to help clear the mounting numbers. Multiple companies are vying to get into this space from Babylon's AI services which provide health information, to DrDoctor, which recently released a new AI software adopted to collate and automatically rate patient's responses with digital questionnaires. Tom Whicher, CEO of DrDoctor estimates that if every hospital in the country adopted his technology, the time needed to get through the backlog would be dramatically reduced from four years to ten months. DrDoctor has also stressed that the tool will not decide anything for patients, it does not make clinical suggestions or rule out any patients form receiving care. The platform will present the data and the clinician ultimately makes the decision.
Housing Secretary Robert Jenrick still has questions to answer over his role in a planning case involving a Tory donor, Sir Keir Starmer has said. The Labour leader told the BBC the matter was "far from closed" but stopped short of calling for the minister's resignation. Mr Jenrick is under fire after granting permission for a luxury housing development to donor Richard Desmond. Downing Street said the PM had full confidence in the minister. Mr Jenrick says he was motivated by a desire to see more homes built when he overruled government inspectors to give the green light to Mr Desmond's plans for a 1,500 home development at the former Westferry printing works, in London's Isle of Dogs.