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.
If mortgage lenders could figure out when their existing customers were thinking about moving, they could offer to help them find their next home -- and prequalify them for a loan. That's the thinking behind two complementary services offered to mortgage lenders by Senso, a Toronto-based fintech analytics startup. Senso Insights employs artificial intelligence to evaluate a lender's existing pool of borrowers to identify those who are actively looking to buy their next home. After calculating each homebuyer's purchasing power, Senso Engage provides them with personalized listings prioritized by neighborhood and affordability, along with access to loan pre-approval. This automated lead-nurturing campaign can help keep borrowers from defecting to another lender.
August 24, 2021 – Congratulations to Montreal-based start-up BrainBox AI, which is one of 10 companies--and the only Canadian company, it says--selected to present at COP26's "Tech for our planet" program, an initiative at the upcoming 26th United Nations Climate Change Conference. BrainBox was selected by the U.K. government to display its technology in Challenge 3–Thinking Smart, which is dedicated to solutions that can capture and share data to better predict and manage energy consumption. In the three months leading to COP26 (being held in November in Glasgow), BrainBox will demonstrate the benefits of grid-interactive buildings to achieve net zero objectives for the electrical grid. "By implementing technologies like BrainBox AI in one of the world's greatest energy consumers--buildings--we can turn the tide and help the real estate industry play its part in stopping the effects of climate change," said Sam Ramadori, president, BrainBox AI. Currently installed in over 100 million sf of real estate across 17 countries, BrainBox's flagship product combines AI and cloud computing to create a fully autonomous commercial HVAC solution that reduces energy consumption and emissions.
Promise Robotics CEO Ramtin Attar with a few Kuka Industrial robots similar to ones fitted with custom tooling developed by Promise Robotics to perform complex construction tasks. Robots constructing homes may sound like science fiction. Yet a Toronto-based startup aims to make this futuristic idea a reality within the next year, leveraging advances in automation, advanced manufacturing, cloud computing and artificial intelligence (AI). Promise Robotics was launched in 2019 by founders Ramtin Attar – a former technology lead at a multinational technology company – and Reza Nasseri, the chief executive officer of Landmark Homes. The technology company, which also has operations in Edmonton, seeks to bring emerging technologies to the home building industry to address the industry's biggest challenge: meeting the rising demand for housing amid a growing shortage of affordable homes.
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.
Okapi, a commercial real estate-focused artificial intelligence (AI) platform, has raised $5.5 million in Series-A financing. The funding round was led by Marius Nacht, the co-founder and chairman of Check Point Software Technologies and a hi-tech entrepreneur, and brings the total amount of capital Okapi has raised to $8.4 million. Founded by Iris Tsidon and Maya Gal, Okapi is a machine learning-powered software platform that analyzes disparate streams of property-related data to provide building professionals with predictive, targeted insights that improve tenant comfort and increase landlords' income opportunities. "After beginning North American operations in 2017, we quickly gained traction with Canada's largest landlords, helping to improve operations for their portfolios while increasing NOIs by 1-3 percent," said Tsidon, Okapi's CEO. "Just a few months after launching in the U.S., this funding round enables us to expand our team and increase our market penetration. We have found that there is incredible demand for artificial intelligence tools to analyze the vast troves of data that owners and operators are neglecting, and now we have the resources to add industry veterans to our staff and advisory board to help facilitate our expansion."
Qindom, the Toronto-based Quantum Machine Learning (QML) start-up, is shifting conventional pricing practices in Real Estate business. Qindom's proprietary AI technology inspired by quantum computing underpins the value of residential properties, addressing the pricing opacity between supply and demand. The team now announces the successful launch of their Real Estate Prediction and Decision Optimization Engine (hereafter, Engine), presenting prominent live results benchmarked against world-leading counterparts. "We found the key to facilitate the trillion US dollars market. Our system carries out accurate predictions on individual home values in Canada and US, and has the potential to untie the knots existing in the home buying, selling and investing process," said Yao Wang, Co-Founder of Qindom, a serial entrepreneur from Alibaba Group.
Rolnick, David, Donti, Priya L., Kaack, Lynn H., Kochanski, Kelly, Lacoste, Alexandre, Sankaran, Kris, Ross, Andrew Slavin, Milojevic-Dupont, Nikola, Jaques, Natasha, Waldman-Brown, Anna, Luccioni, Alexandra, Maharaj, Tegan, Sherwin, Evan D., Mukkavilli, S. Karthik, Kording, Konrad P., Gomes, Carla, Ng, Andrew Y., Hassabis, Demis, Platt, John C., Creutzig, Felix, Chayes, Jennifer, Bengio, Yoshua
Climate change is one of the greatest challenges facing humanity, and we, as machine learning experts, may wonder how we can help. Here we describe how machine learning can be a powerful tool in reducing greenhouse gas emissions and helping society adapt to a changing climate. From smart grids to disaster management, we identify high impact problems where existing gaps can be filled by machine learning, in collaboration with other fields. Our recommendations encompass exciting research questions as well as promising business opportunities. We call on the machine learning community to join the global effort against climate change.
Winners Announced for the Zillow Prize For Spectrum's January issue, I wrote about the Zillow Prize competition, in which nearly 4,000 teams were pitted against one another in a quest to come up with a computerized algorithm or machine-learning system that could predict the future sale price of homes. Real-estate giant Zillow organized the competition in hopes of using what it learned from these teams to improve its own system of predicting home prices, something the company calls the "Zestimate." And today, Zillow has announced a winner: a team made up of Chahhou Mohamed of Morocco, Jordan Meyer of the United States, and Nima Shahbazi of Canada, whose predictions bettered the Zestimate by about 13 percent. Stan Humphries, chief analytics officer for the Zillow Group, in Seattle, says that he and his colleagues have learned an enormous amount from the winning team and others in the competition--thousands of people working for two years on the problem: "That's a huge help," says Humphries. Although he couldn't be too specific, Humphries shared that one area of insight was "how you combine various models in an ensemble approach."
In Silicon Valley, to make a device "smart" means to add internet connectivity, allowing it to collect, send, and receive data, often while learning and adapting to user preferences. The technology industry has invested wholesale in the idea that "smart" means better, and so we have smart speakers, smart thermometers, smart baby monitors, smart window shades, and smart sex toys, all perpetually collecting rich user data to send back to company servers. Soon enough, we'll have a smart city: Sidewalk Labs, a subsidiary of Google's parent company, Alphabet, is building one "from the internet up," with help from a series of private-public real-estate partnerships in the downtown Toronto neighborhood Quayside (pronounced Key-side). The project's 200-page wish list of features is astounding. The "vision document" imagines not only the revitalization of a 12-acre plot that has sat largely vacant since its heyday as an industrial port, but its transformation into a micro-city outfitted with smart technologies that will use data to disrupt everything from traffic congestion to health care, housing, zoning regulations, and greenhouse-gas emissions.