A not-for-profit called RepresentUS, working with creative media agency Mischief @ No Fixed Address, recently used the popular Deepfake AI system to create a pair of political ads featuring actors digitally manipulated to look like Vladmir Putin and Kim Jong Un mocking the current state of US politics. The ads were reportedly slated to air on Fox, CNN, and MSNBC in their DC markets but were "pulled at the last minute" for reasons unknown. Allow me to clear the mystery: they were probably pulled because this is a bad idea. But before we get into that, let's take a moment to break down what's happening in the ads. RepresentUs, the not-for-profit behind the project, says on its website that it brings together "conservatives, progressives, and everyone in between to pass powerful state and local laws that fix our broken elections and stop political bribery. Our strategy is central to ending political corruption, extremism and gridlock."
A bipartisan House panel said on Tuesday that artificial intelligence, quantum computing, space and biotechnology were "making traditional battlefields and boundaries increasingly irrelevant" -- but that the Pentagon was clinging to aging weapons systems meant for a past era. The panel's report, called the "Future of Defense Task Force," is one of many underway in Congress to grapple with the speed at which the Pentagon is adopting new technologies, often using the rising competition with China in an effort to spur the pace of change. Most reach a similar conclusion: For all the talk of embracing new technologies, the politics of killing off old weapons systems is so forbidding -- often because it involves closing factories or bases, and endangers military jobs in congressional districts -- that the efforts falter. The task force said it was concentrating on the next 30 to 50 years, and concluded that the Defense Department and Congress should be "focused on the needs of the future and not on the political and military-industrial loyalties of the past."
Stuart Russell was born in 1962 in Portsmouth, England. He received his B.A. with first-class honours in physics from Oxford University in 1982, and his Ph.D. in computer science from Stanford in 1986. He then joined the faculty of the University of California at Berkeley, where he is a professor and former chair of computer science, director of the Center for Human-Compatible AI, and holder of the Smith–Zadeh Chair in Engineering. In 1990, he received the Presidential Young Investigator Award of the National Science Foundation, and in 1995 he was co-winner of the Computers and Thought Award. He is a Fellow of the American Association for Artificial Intelligence, the Association for Computing Machinery, and the American Association for the Advancement of Science, and Honorary Fellow of Wadham College, Oxford, and an Andrew Carnegie Fellow.
In a Thursday event unveiling a slew of new home devices ahead of the holidays, Amazon made clearer than ever its determination to flood America with cameras, microphones and the voice of Alexa, its AI assistant. The big picture: Updating popular products and expanding its range to car alarms and in-home drones, Amazon extended its lead in smart home devices and moved into new areas including cloud gaming and car security. The new offerings will also fuel criticism that the tech giant is helping equip a society built around surveillance.
The market for AI (artificial intelligence) technologies is going to expand tremendously in the next decade. Grand View Research says the global AI market will reach $733.7 billion by 2027, growing at a CAGR (compound annual growth rate) of 42.2%. One of the many sectors that will increasingly look to leverage AI technologies between now and 2027 (and beyond) is first response. In fact, in some cases, the first-response industry is already engaged in piloting AI technologies for use on the front lines. What AI-related innovations are to come, and how will they make first responders' jobs easier?
Estonia-based Sentinel, which is developing a detection platform for identifying synthesized media (aka deepfakes), has closed a $1.35 million seed round from some seasoned angel investors -- including Jaan Tallinn (Skype), Taavet Hinrikus (TransferWise), Ragnar Sass & Martin Henk (Pipedrive) -- and Baltics early-stage VC firm, United Angels VC. The challenge of building tools to detect deepfakes has been likened to an arms race -- most recently by tech giant Microsoft, which earlier this month launched a detector tool in the hopes of helping pick up disinformation aimed at November's U.S. election. "The fact that [deepfakes are] generated by AI that can continue to learn makes it inevitable that they will beat conventional detection technology," it warned, before suggesting there's still short-term value in trying to debunk malicious fakes with "advanced detection technologies." Sentinel co-founder and CEO Johannes Tammekänd agrees on the arms race point -- which is why its approach to this "goal-post-shifting" problem entails offering multiple layers of defence, following a cybersecurity-style template. He says rival tools -- mentioning Microsoft's detector and another rival, Deeptrace, aka Sensity -- are, by contrast, only relying on "one fancy neural network that tries to detect defects," as he puts it.
More than 3 million acres of California have burned this year, and 18,000 firefighters are still battling 27 major wildfires across the sooty state sometimes called golden. And every day, high above the smoke, a military drone with a wingspan roughly 10 times that of LeBron James feeds infrared video of the flames back to March Air Reserve Base, east of Los Angeles, to help map the destruction and assist firefighters. These MQ-9 "Reaper" drones don't usually fly domestic--they're on standby in case the Air Force needs them for overseas reconnaissance. But climate change has helped make crisscrossing California gathering video a new fall tradition for the 163rd Attack Wing. Its drones have helped map wildfires every year since 2017, thanks to special permission from the secretary of defense.
With the pandemic's negative impact on the global economy, says the firm, technology leaders must assess the emerging opportunities resulting from COVID-19 and provide technological innovations to build company, society, and consumer resilience. Automation/robotics, advanced data analytics, IoT and "sensorization," security and privacy, and business model innovation are seen as the five critical success factors for growth. "From transformative MegaTrends to geopolitical chaos, there are several factors making it increasingly difficult to grow," says Murali Krishnan, Visionary Innovation Group Senior Industry Analyst at Frost & Sullivan. "In the near term, companies should focus on diversifying supply chains and leveraging new opportunities arising from changing customer demands. In the long term, it is important to internally adapt to new technologies that support workplace and operational continuity to have a smoother transformation during recovery."
Campaigns and elections have always been about data--underneath the empathetic promises to fix your problems and fight for your family, it's a business of metrics. If a campaign is lucky, it will find its way through a wilderness of polling, voter attributes, demographics, turnout, impressions, gerrymandering, and ad buys to connect with voters in a way that moves or even inspires them. Obama, MAGA, AOC--all have had some of that special sauce. Still, campaigns that collect and use the numbers best win. That's been true for some time, of course.