North America


Automated vehicles won't be taking truckers' jobs anytime soon: study

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Truck drivers can put the brakes on their worst automation fears. Robots are not getting behind the wheel and stealing the jobs of long-haul drivers anytime soon, according to two government experts, offering a contrarian view to some of the biggest names in tech and a presidential candidate. In a study published in the Industrial and Labor Relations Review, Maury Gittleman, a research economist at the Bureau of Labor Statistics, and Kristen Monaco, an associate commissioner in the Office of Compensation and Working Conditions also at BLS, argue that there are three main reasons why the threat of automation, robots and AI to truck drivers is more fear-mongering than fearsome. "Looking at the data, we believe that, while the risk of job loss from automation is very real, the projections that often get touted are overstated," the two penned in Harvard Business Review Wednesday. The projections they're referring to are the elimination of some 2-3 million truck driving jobs, and one that recently got a boost by presidential candidate Andrew Yang, who retweeted Tuesday an article on trucking automation by Business Insider that perpetuated the projection in question.


Smart TVs and digital assistants are leaking user data to Netflix, Facebook and advertisers

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Smart TVs and home devices are harvesting consumers' personal data and funnelling it to big technology companies, researchers have warned. Sensitive information such as one's exact location is reportedly being wired to corporations such as Facebook, Amazon and Netflix - even if the person is not their customer. The findings from a team at the Northeastern University in Boston and Imperial College London came as fears of creeping privacy intrusion is grabbing headlines across the globe. Smart TVs and home devices are harvesting consumers' personal data and funnelling it to big technology companies, researchers have warned Sensitive information such as one's exact location is reportedly being wired to corporations such as Facebook, Amazon and Netflix - even if the person is not their customer David Choffnes, computer scientist at Northeastern University, said: 'Amazon is contacted by almost half the devices in our tests, which stands out because [this means] Amazon can infer a lot of information about what you're doing with different devices in your home, including those they don't manufacture.' A total 81 devices - including products by LG and Samsung - were monitored in the US and the UK to determine how much personal data was logged and where it was exported to, according to the Financial Times.


Fury as viral 'ImageNet' app gives racist labels and calls people a 'rape suspect'

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A viral app which classifies selfies using its in-built artificial intelligence has been spewing out vile and racist labels and enraging users. Many took to social media to condemn the racist and offensive software but makers of the app, at Princeton University, say causing offence was exactly the intention. It was intended to be deliberately provocative to draw attention to the in-built prejudice and discrimination in many forms of machine learning. However, many users, it seems, didn't fully get the idea of the art project and were outraged at what their images were labelled as. One MailOnline staffer who tried the app was grotesquely dubbed a'rape suspect' from an innocuous picture.


How (in)accurate is machine learning?

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Executives and others are increasingly using data when assessing business policies, comparing marketing strategies, and making other decisions. In particular, they use machine learning to analyze data--and the results to make decisions. But how much can an executive trust a recommendation generated by machine learning? Recognizing that uncertainty is involved, and could produce expensive mistakes, Chicago Booth's Max Farrell, Tengyuan Liang, and Sanjog Misra have sought to quantify this uncertainty so that decision makers can take it into account. In the past few years, machine-learning methods have come to dominate data analysis in academia and industry.


Kurvv closes $1M seed funding round for AI service designed for small businesses

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Artificial intelligence is a big deal for the likes of Amazon, Microsoft and Google -- but what about a small business that can't afford to have a data scientist on staff? That's the niche that Bellevue, Wash.-based Kurvv plans to fill, with a service that takes a company's data and fits it into a pre-trained AI model that may not be perfect, but is good enough to address the problem that needs solving. "We're targeting companies that have data, but don't have the knowledge or the resources to hire data scientists and can't bring in a consultant," Kurvv's CEO, Ryan Lee, told GeekWire. Lee left his post as a data science program manager at Microsoft in May to focus on getting Kurvv off the ground, drawing upon more than 15 years of experience in product management. One of Lee's fellow co-founders is Vince Roche, who co-founded Boost Media, a San Francisco-based ad optimization venture, and now serves as Kurvv's chief technology officer.


Glimpsing into the Future of AI: A Conversation with Yolanda Gil - USC Viterbi School of Engineering

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Yolanda Gil, a research director at the USC Viterbi Information Sciences Institute (ISI), co-authored a new 20-year Artificial Intelligence Roadmap. An outbreak of a highly contagious mosquito-borne virus in the U.S. has spread quickly to major cities around the world. It's all hands on deck to stop the disease from spreading–and that includes the deployment of artificial intelligence (AI) systems, which scour online news and social media for relevant data and patterns. In consultation with human scientists, AI systems could help contain infectious diseases and identify effective vaccines. Working with these results, and data gathered from numerous hospitals around the world, scientists discover an interesting link to a rare neurological condition and a treatment is developed.


Annual investments in robots rose to world record $16.5 billion in 2018

The Japan Times

WASHINGTON – Robot shipments are expected to jump 39 percent from 2018 to 2022 from a record annual sales level of $16.5 billion last year, according to the World Robotics report. More than a third of global installations are in China and the top five countries -- also including Japan, Korea, the U.S and Germany -- hold 74 percent of the market. China's investment in robots reached $5.4 billion last year. "We saw a dynamic performance in 2018 with a new sales record, even as the main customers for robots -- the automotive and electrical-electronics industry -- had a difficult year," said Junji Tsuda, President of the International Federation of Robotics. "The U.S.-China trade conflict poses uncertainty to the global economy -- customers tend to postpone investments."


The 50 best video games of the 21st century

The Guardian

Karaoke complexes might be relatively common now, but back in 2004 singing into a PlayStation was the closest most of us could get. SingStar's discs of party classics formed the caterwauling soundtrack to millions of student gatherings, hen parties and five-pint Fridays all over Europe for more than a decade. Like Just Dance, it harnesses the infectious joy of pop music in a way that anyone can play. A gleeful absurdist masterpiece in which you start by rolling up pencils and apple peel and end up absorbing buildings, trees and, eventually, most of the planet in your big sticky ball, because why not? Journey is a short and moving shared experience whose music, evocative colour palette and simple play come together as they only can in games, for a powerful emotional effect. It's often picked as an ur-example of games as art – including by curators at the V&A, where it was front and centre at a recent exhibition. Resident Evil meets Alien seems like such an obvious game pitch that it is incredible it wasn't realised until 2008. In Dead Space, the player becomes lowly engineer Isaac Clarke, who finds himself investigating the "planet-cracking" ship Ishimura after radio contact with the vessel is lost.


AI Mimics CEOs Voice To Steal £201000 – GMA

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A recent Wall Street Journal report has highlighted how, in March this year, a group of hackers were able to use AI software to mimic an energy company CEO's voice in order to steal £201,000. Reports indicate that the CEO of an unnamed UK-based energy company received a phone call from someone that he believed to be the German chief executive of the parent company. The person on the end of the phone ordered the CEO of the UK-based energy company to immediately transfer €220,000 (£201,000) into the bank account of a Hungarian supplier. The voice was reported to have been so accurate in its sound, that the CEO of the energy company even recognised what he thought was the subtleties of the German accent of his boss, and even "melody" of the accent. The call was so convincing that the energy company made the transfer of funds as requested.


AI can't protect us from deepfakes, argues new report

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A new report from Data and Society raises doubts about automated solutions to deceptively altered videos, including machine learning-altered videos called deepfakes. Authors Britt Paris and Joan Donovan argue that deepfakes, while new, are part of a long history of media manipulation -- one that requires both a social and a technical fix. Relying on AI could actually make things worse by concentrating more data and power in the hands of private corporations. "The panic around deepfakes justifies quick technical solutions that don't address structural inequality," says Paris. "It's a massive project, but we need to find solutions that are social as well as political so people without power aren't left out of the equation."