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Recent and forthcoming machine learning and AI seminars: January 2021 edition


This post contains a list of the AI-related seminars that are scheduled to take place between now and the end of February 2021. We've also listed recent past seminars that are available for you to watch. All events detailed here are free and open for anyone to attend virtually. This list includes forthcoming seminars scheduled to take place between 15 January and 28 February. Zero-shot (human-AI) coordination (in Hanabi) and ridge rider Speaker: Jakob Foerster (Facebook, University of Toronto & Vector Institute) Organised by: University College London Zoom link is here.

Los Angeles man admits flying drone that struck LAPD helicopter over Hollywood

Los Angeles Times

A Los Angeles man admitted in federal court Thursday that he flew a drone that struck a Los Angeles Police Department helicopter that was responding to a crime scene in Hollywood. Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, made the admission in pleading guilty to one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, a misdemeanor. A spokesman for the U.S. attorney's office in Los Angeles said Hernandez is believed to be the first person in the country to be convicted of that offense, which carries a punishment of up to one year in prison. In his plea agreement, Hernandez admitted that he "recklessly interfered with and disrupted" the operation of the LAPD helicopter, which was responding to a burglary of a pharmacy, and that his actions "posed an imminent safety hazard" to the chopper's occupants. Reached by phone Thursday, Hernandez declined to comment.

Apple Electronics: Inside the Beatles' eccentric technology subsidiary

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Say the word Apple today and we think of Steve Jobs' multi-billion-dollar technology company that spawned the iPhone and the Mac computer. But a decade before the California-based firm was even founded, Apple Electronics, a subsidiary of the Beatles' record label Apple, was working on several pioneering inventions – some of which were precursors of commonly available products today. Apple Electronics was led by Alexis Mardas, a young electronics engineer and inventor originally from Athens in Greece, known to the Beatles as Magic Alex. He died on this day in 2017, aged 74, and was one of the most colourful and mysterious characters in the Beatles' story. Dressed in a white lab coat in his London workshop, Mardas created prototypes of inventions that were set to be marketed and sold. These included the'composing typewriter' – powered by an early example of sound recognition – and a phone with advanced memory capacity.

LAPD panel approves new oversight of facial recognition, rejects calls to end program

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Commission approved a policy Tuesday that set new parameters on the LAPD's use of facial recognition technology, but stopped far short of the outright ban sought by many city activists. The move followed promises by the commission to review the Los Angeles Police Department's use of photo-comparison software in September, after The Times reported that officers had used the technology -- contrary to department claims -- more than 30,000 times since 2009. The new policy restricts LAPD detectives and other trained officers to using a single software platform operated by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department, which only uses mugshots and is far less expansive than some third-party search platforms. It also mandates new measures for tracking the Police Department's use of the county system and its outcomes in the crime fight. Commissioners and top police executives praised the policy as a step in the right direction, saying it struck the right balance between protecting people's civil liberties and giving cops the tools they need to solve and reduce crime -- which is on the rise.

A Startup Will Nix Algorithms Built on Ill-Gotten Facial Data


Late last year, San Francisco face-recognition startup Everalbum won a $2 million contract with the Air Force to provide "AI-driven access control." Monday, another arm of the US government dealt the company a setback. The Federal Trade Commission said Everalbum had agreed to settle charges that it had applied face-recognition technology to images uploaded to a photo app without users' permission and retained them after telling users they would be deleted. The startup used millions of the photos to develop technology offered to government agencies and other customers under the brand Paravision. Paravision, as the company is now known, agreed to delete the data collected inappropriately.

L.A. students must get COVID-19 vaccine to return to campus, Beutner says

Los Angeles Times

Once COVID-19 vaccines are available to children, Los Angeles students will have to be immunized before they can return to campus, Supt. He did not, however, suggest that campuses remain closed until the vaccines are available. Instead, he said, the state should set the standards for reopening schools, explain the reasoning behind the standards, and then require campuses to open when these standards are achieved. A COVID-19 vaccine requirement would be "no different than students who are vaccinated for measles or mumps," Beutner said in a pre-recorded briefing. He also compared students, staff and others getting a COVID-19 vaccine to those who "are tested for tuberculosis before they come on campus. That's the best way we know to keep all on a campus safe."

How to Get More Plant-Based Meat Onto Plates in 2021


Faux burgers and chicken nuggets are having a moment. In 2018, Impossible Foods, the Silicon Valley–based alternative meat company known for its plant-based burger that "bleeds" like the real thing, made its nationwide fast food debut at all White Castle locations in the US. A year later, KFC partnered with Los Angeles–based alt-protein producer Beyond Meat to create a plant-based fried chicken that is "finger lickin' good." And since the onset of the pandemic, sales of plant-based meats from supermarkets have more than doubled. Once reserved only for hippies and PETA employees, protein alternatives have finally entered the mainstream. But that doesn't mean industrial animal agriculture is on its way out.

L.A. County will stop using Curative coronavirus test after concerns from the FDA

Los Angeles Times

Los Angeles County health officials said Sunday they will stop providing a commonly used coronavirus test after federal regulators raised questions about its accuracy. The decision affects only a small number of county-supported mobile testing sites. County health officials had already discontinued the broad use of oral swab tests produced by Silicon Valley start-up Curative over the summer because of concerns about too many false negatives. The use of Curative oral swab tests at the city of Los Angeles' 10 drive-through testing sites, including the massive facility at Dodger Stadium, are unaffected by Sunday's decision. Mayor Eric Garcetti has defended the tests as broadly effective and said that moving away from them could lead to fewer people being diagnosed and greater spread of the virus.

GM's Cruise Driverless-Car Unit Picks Up Former Delta Operations Chief WSJD - Technology

General Motors Co. 's driverless-car division, Cruise, has hired a former Delta Air Lines Inc. Gil West, who retired in September after 12 years at Delta, has joined Cruise as chief operating officer, Cruise said Friday. Mr. West was highly regarded at Delta, where he oversaw the company's rise from a reliability laggard to the top ranks. The hire signals that Cruise, which has been refining and testing its autonomous technology on the streets of San Francisco for years, is readying its operations to roll out a commercial service. Mr. West's position is a new role at Cruise, which has spent its seven years as a research-and-development company.

At Google, Hundreds Of Workers Formed A Labor Union. Why? 'To Protect Ourselves'

NPR Technology

Google engineer Raksha Muthukumar is among more than 500 employees of the tech giant who this week announced the formation of a labor union, a rarity in Silicon Valley. Google engineer Raksha Muthukumar is among more than 500 employees of the tech giant who this week announced the formation of a labor union, a rarity in Silicon Valley. After the death of George Floyd, Google engineer Raksha Muthukumar sent an email to colleagues. In it, she pointed to a list of criminal justice reform groups and bail funds for protesters who were seeking contributions. Soon after, Muthukumar was summoned into a meeting with Google's human relations department.