Collaborating Authors


Climate Nihilism--and Hope--Are Coming From the Strangest Places in Sci-Fi


Sign up to receive the Future Tense newsletter every other Saturday. The U.N.'s COP27 climate summit kicks off on Nov. 6 in Egypt, inviting us, once again, to consider whether we're doing enough, fast enough, to stave off climate chaos and the suffering that will come with it. The scale of change required is head-spinningly drastic, so even unexpectedly rapid expansions in clean energy won't do much to curb malaise and doomsaying. Here in the U.S., the Inflation Reduction Act, the biggest climate investment in the nation's history, has been met, largely, with collective indifference, despite positive buzz about its potential effectiveness. The bill was, predictably, passed without any Republican votes, a grim reminder of the scale of climate denialism.

Technology Ethics in Action: Critical and Interdisciplinary Perspectives Artificial Intelligence

This special issue interrogates the meaning and impacts of "tech ethics": the embedding of ethics into digital technology research, development, use, and governance. In response to concerns about the social harms associated with digital technologies, many individuals and institutions have articulated the need for a greater emphasis on ethics in digital technology. Yet as more groups embrace the concept of ethics, critical discourses have emerged questioning whose ethics are being centered, whether "ethics" is the appropriate frame for improving technology, and what it means to develop "ethical" technology in practice. This interdisciplinary issue takes up these questions, interrogating the relationships among ethics, technology, and society in action. This special issue engages with the normative and contested notions of ethics itself, how ethics has been integrated with technology across domains, and potential paths forward to support more just and egalitarian technology. Rather than starting from philosophical theories, the authors in this issue orient their articles around the real-world discourses and impacts of tech ethics--i.e., tech ethics in action.

The Role of Social Movements, Coalitions, and Workers in Resisting Harmful Artificial Intelligence and Contributing to the Development of Responsible AI Artificial Intelligence

There is mounting public concern over the influence that AI based systems has in our society. Coalitions in all sectors are acting worldwide to resist hamful applications of AI. From indigenous people addressing the lack of reliable data, to smart city stakeholders, to students protesting the academic relationships with sex trafficker and MIT donor Jeffery Epstein, the questionable ethics and values of those heavily investing in and profiting from AI are under global scrutiny. There are biased, wrongful, and disturbing assumptions embedded in AI algorithms that could get locked in without intervention. Our best human judgment is needed to contain AI's harmful impact. Perhaps one of the greatest contributions of AI will be to make us ultimately understand how important human wisdom truly is in life on earth.

The State of AI Ethics Report (January 2021) Artificial Intelligence

The 3rd edition of the Montreal AI Ethics Institute's The State of AI Ethics captures the most relevant developments in AI Ethics since October 2020. It aims to help anyone, from machine learning experts to human rights activists and policymakers, quickly digest and understand the field's ever-changing developments. Through research and article summaries, as well as expert commentary, this report distills the research and reporting surrounding various domains related to the ethics of AI, including: algorithmic injustice, discrimination, ethical AI, labor impacts, misinformation, privacy, risk and security, social media, and more. In addition, The State of AI Ethics includes exclusive content written by world-class AI Ethics experts from universities, research institutes, consulting firms, and governments. Unique to this report is "The Abuse and Misogynoir Playbook," written by Dr. Katlyn Tuner (Research Scientist, Space Enabled Research Group, MIT), Dr. Danielle Wood (Assistant Professor, Program in Media Arts and Sciences; Assistant Professor, Aeronautics and Astronautics; Lead, Space Enabled Research Group, MIT) and Dr. Catherine D'Ignazio (Assistant Professor, Urban Science and Planning; Director, Data + Feminism Lab, MIT). The piece (and accompanying infographic), is a deep-dive into the historical and systematic silencing, erasure, and revision of Black women's contributions to knowledge and scholarship in the United Stations, and globally. Exposing and countering this Playbook has become increasingly important following the firing of AI Ethics expert Dr. Timnit Gebru (and several of her supporters) at Google. This report should be used not only as a point of reference and insight on the latest thinking in the field of AI Ethics, but should also be used as a tool for introspection as we aim to foster a more nuanced conversation regarding the impacts of AI on the world.

Podcast 12: Real world tech: Edge AI drives car-making, healthcare and retail - VanillaPlus - The global voice of Telecoms IT


Artificial intelligence (AI) at the edge is changing healthcare, retail and Audi cars, as Intel's IoT Group vice president, John Healy tells Jeremy Cowan and George Malim. Plus we learn how chipmakers globally are tackling supply problems that have halted vehicle production. The semiconductor industry is facing an "awakening", says Healy, as it shape-shifts to meet "insatiable demand" for silicone. Finally, we hear which African country is a leader in satellite cartography, and how Amazon is playing games with its warehouse staff. Hi, and welcome to the latest Trending Tech Podcast brought to you by The Evolving Enterprise, IoT Now, and This is Jeremy Cowan, and I want to thank you for joining the latest, sometimes serious, sometimes light-hearted look at enterprise digital transformation. I am delighted to welcome today two guests, who are John Healy, from California-based international technology company, Intel, known among other things, for the processors that power so many of our devices. John is vice president of the IoT Group. John, thank you very much for making the time to be here. Good to have you on again, George. Okay, today, we'll be looking at some key tech news stories that deserve a bit of a deeper dive.

Meta-tuning Language Models to Answer Prompts Better Artificial Intelligence

Large pretrained language models like GPT-3 have acquired a surprising ability to perform zero-shot classification (ZSC). For example, to classify review sentiments, we can "prompt" the language model with the review and the question "Is the review positive?" as the context, and ask it to predict whether the next word is "Yes" or "No". However, these models are not specialized for answering these prompts. To address this weakness, we propose meta-tuning, which trains the model to specialize in answering prompts but still generalize to unseen tasks. To create the training data, we aggregated 43 existing datasets, annotated 441 label descriptions in total, and unified them into the above question answering (QA) format. After meta-tuning, our model outperforms a same-sized QA model for most labels on unseen tasks, and we forecast that the performance would improve for even larger models. Therefore, measuring ZSC performance on non-specialized language models might underestimate their true capability, and community-wide efforts on aggregating datasets and unifying their formats can help build models that understand prompts better.

The AI Index 2021 Annual Report Artificial Intelligence

Welcome to the fourth edition of the AI Index Report. This year we significantly expanded the amount of data available in the report, worked with a broader set of external organizations to calibrate our data, and deepened our connections with the Stanford Institute for Human-Centered Artificial Intelligence (HAI). The AI Index Report tracks, collates, distills, and visualizes data related to artificial intelligence. Its mission is to provide unbiased, rigorously vetted, and globally sourced data for policymakers, researchers, executives, journalists, and the general public to develop intuitions about the complex field of AI. The report aims to be the most credible and authoritative source for data and insights about AI in the world.

Knowledge Generation -- Variational Bayes on Knowledge Graphs Artificial Intelligence

This thesis is a proof of concept for the potential of Variational Auto-Encoder (VAE) on representation learning of real-world Knowledge Graphs (KG). Inspired by successful approaches to the generation of molecular graphs, we evaluate the capabilities of our model, the Relational Graph Variational Auto-Encoder (RGVAE). The impact of the modular hyperparameter choices, encoding through graph convolutions, graph matching and latent space prior, is compared. The RGVAE is first evaluated on link prediction. The mean reciprocal rank (MRR) scores on the two datasets FB15K-237 and WN18RR are compared to the embedding-based model DistMult. A variational DistMult and a RGVAE without latent space prior constraint are implemented as control models. The results show that between different settings, the RGVAE with relaxed latent space, scores highest on both datasets, yet does not outperform the DistMult. Further, we investigate the latent space in a twofold experiment: first, linear interpolation between the latent representation of two triples, then the exploration of each latent dimension in a $95\%$ confidence interval. Both interpolations show that the RGVAE learns to reconstruct the adjacency matrix but fails to disentangle. For the last experiment we introduce a new validation method for the FB15K-237 data set. The relation type-constrains of generated triples are filtered and matched with entity types. The observed rate of valid generated triples is insignificantly higher than the random threshold. All generated and valid triples are unseen. A comparison between different latent space priors, using the $\delta$-VAE method, reveals a decoder collapse. Finally we analyze the limiting factors of our approach compared to molecule generation and propose solutions for the decoder collapse and successful representation learning of multi-relational KGs.

A Distributional Approach to Controlled Text Generation Artificial Intelligence

We propose a Distributional Approach to address Controlled Text Generation from pre-trained Language Models (LMs). This view permits to define, in a single formal framework, "pointwise" and "distributional" constraints over the target LM -- to our knowledge, this is the first approach with such generality -- while minimizing KL divergence with the initial LM distribution. The optimal target distribution is then uniquely determined as an explicit EBM (Energy-Based Model) representation. From that optimal representation we then train the target controlled autoregressive LM through an adaptive distributional variant of Policy Gradient. We conduct a first set of experiments over pointwise constraints showing the advantages of our approach over a set of baselines, in terms of obtaining a controlled LM balancing constraint satisfaction with divergence from the initial LM (GPT-2). We then perform experiments over distributional constraints, a unique feature of our approach, demonstrating its potential as a remedy to the problem of Bias in Language Models. Through an ablation study we show the effectiveness of our adaptive technique for obtaining faster convergence.

The Geometry of Distributed Representations for Better Alignment, Attenuated Bias, and Improved Interpretability Artificial Intelligence

High-dimensional representations for words, text, images, knowledge graphs and other structured data are commonly used in different paradigms of machine learning and data mining. These representations have different degrees of interpretability, with efficient distributed representations coming at the cost of the loss of feature to dimension mapping. This implies that there is obfuscation in the way concepts are captured in these embedding spaces. Its effects are seen in many representations and tasks, one particularly problematic one being in language representations where the societal biases, learned from underlying data, are captured and occluded in unknown dimensions and subspaces. As a result, invalid associations (such as different races and their association with a polar notion of good versus bad) are made and propagated by the representations, leading to unfair outcomes in different tasks where they are used. This work addresses some of these problems pertaining to the transparency and interpretability of such representations. A primary focus is the detection, quantification, and mitigation of socially biased associations in language representation.