US Treasury rolls out raft of sanctions on int'l Human Rights Day

Al Jazeera

The United States Treasury slapped sanctions on 25 individuals and entities on Friday, citing human rights abuses, and blacklisted a Chinese maker of artificial intelligence (AI) facial recognition software, citing its role in the repression of Muslim Uighurs and other religious and ethnic minorities in Xinjiang. In addition to China, Friday's raft of sanctions targeted people and entities linked to human rights abuses in Myanmar, North Korea and Bangladesh. Canada and the United Kingdom joined the US in announcing sanctions over repression in Myanmar. "On International Human Rights Day, Treasury is using its tools to expose and hold accountable perpetrators of serious human rights abuse," said Deputy Secretary of the Treasury Wally Adeyemo in a statement posted on the department's website. Treasury added AI firm SenseTime Group Limited to a list of Chinese blacklisted firms for developing facial recognition programmes "that can determine a target's ethnicity, with a particular focus on identifying ethnic Uyghurs".

Cops Take Down the 'World's Biggest' Video Game Cheat Ring


This week, the Justice Department indicted a 22-year-old on charges of tampering with the water facility where he used to work. It's a stark reminder that while the power grid gets most of the attention, it's not the only piece of critical infrastructure that's vulnerable to potentially devastating attacks. We also took a look at YouTube's ongoing problems with moderating kid-focused content; a WIRED investigation found dozens of creepy thumbnails on videos for Minecraft and child-centric pursuits that were at or near the top of the platform's "Topic" pages. It's not quite as dire a situation as the so-called Elsagate controversy from a few years back, in which the YouTube Kids app was flooded with grotesque videos featuring popular children's characters performing unspeakable acts. But it still shows that YouTube has a lot of moderation work still ahead of it.

How AI can address the global sanctions challenge


Today's global sanctions regimes have arguably never been more challenging for organisations to ensure they remain compliant and have the required screening processes and procedures in place. Over the past decade, trade and economic sanctions have become an ever more popular tool of foreign policy in an increasingly uncertain geo-political climate. Aside from country-specific sanctions, such as those against Iran, Russia, North Korea, etc, more targeted regulations focus upon particular businesses or individuals. As a result, national and international AML, screening and anti-fraud obligations have increased in both scope and complexity. Failure to comply with sanctions and money laundering obligations, can result in severe financial and reputational costs.

Could hackers trick voice assistants into committing fraud? Researchers say yes.


Voice assistant technology is supposed to make our lives easier, but security experts say it comes with some uniquely invasive risks. Since the beginning of the year, multiple Nest security camera users have reported instances of strangers hacking into and issuing voice commands to Alexa, falsely announcing a North Korean missile attack, and targeting one family by speaking directly to their child, turning up their home thermostat to 90 degrees, and shouting insults. These incidents are alarming, but the potential for silent compromises of voice assistants could be even more damaging. Nest owner Google -- which recently integrated Google Assistant support into Nest control hubs -- has blamed weak user passwords and a lack of two-factor authentication for the attacks. But even voice assistants with strong security may be vulnerable to stealthier forms of hacking.

AI and the International Relations of the Future


As artificial intelligence continues to evolve, it is having profound impact on a range of sectors seemingly unrelated to it, such as international relations. Some countries are pursuing AI more or less within the confines of international law and generally accepted principles of doing business, while others are choosing to do what is necessary to attempt to achieve AI supremacy outside those boundaries. In the process, AI is slowly altering the balance of power between global actors and among alliances in a number of ways. Just as becoming adept in the cyber arena levels the playing field โ€“ giving countries such as Iran and North Korea the ability to go head to head with China, Russia and that US in cyber space โ€“ the pursuit of AI supremacy is providing an increased competitive edge in international business to some smaller, otherwise less competitive nations, enhancing their ability to secure preferential trade and investment arrangements with other countries, raising their global profile, and enabling them to progress into previously unimagined areas of international trade, investment, and diplomacy. How AI is deployed by governments can have serious consequences in international relations, particularly if a given government has unusual capabilities in the AI arena.

Korean university faces boycott over fears of AI weapons


For all the joking we do about Skynet-scenarios and killer robots, there's some truth to the worrisome creations. To prevent Terminators from becoming a real threat, some 50 robotics experts are boycotting the Korea Advanced Institute of Science and Technology (KAIST), a university in South Korea, given its decision to open an artificial intelligence weapons lab, according to Financial Times. The fear is that it'll trigger a next-gen arms race and that ultimately, any safeguards put in place will be circumvented by terrorists and, more specifically, North Korea. Since February, FT says KAIST has been working on a quartet of experiments at the Research Center for the Convergence of National Defense and Artificial Intelligence: AI-based command-and-decision systems, navigation algorithms for underwater drones, smart aircraft-training systems (with AI) and AI-based object tracking and recognition tech. While this might sounds normal for an academic setting, KAIST has a partnership with Korean arms company Hanwha Systems, whose parent company has apparently been blacklisted by the UN for making cluster munitions.

North Korean Missile Parts And Coal: Man Arrested As Black Market Agent

International Business Times

An Australian man was taken into custody Saturday for allegedly acting as an economic agent for North Korea and attempting to sell missile parts, military intelligence and coal on the black market.

The wealthy get the biggest benefit from House Republican tax plan, analysis finds

Los Angeles Times

Trump opens Asia trip with Japan's Abe against backdrop of tensions with North Korea Just one in three Americans trust Trump to handle North Korean tensions well Japan's Abe treats Trump to a day of personal diplomacy, including golf and trucker hats Brazile says Democratic primaries weren't'rigged' though some see evidence in her new book Trump is silent on Saudi king's purge though he and Salman spoke by phone Japan's Abe treats Trump to a day of personal diplomacy, including golf and trucker hats Brazile says Democratic primaries weren't'rigged' though some see evidence in her new book Trump is silent on Saudi king's purge though he and Salman spoke by phone The greatest benefit from the House Republican tax bill would go to upper-income households, according to an analysis released Monday by the nonpartisan Tax Policy Center. Middle-income taxpayers -- those earning between $48,600 and $86,100 annually -- would receive an average tax cut of $700 next year, or about 1% of their after-tax income, the analysis said. The top 20% of the nation's earners -- those making more than $149,400 a year -- would receive an average tax cut of $4,850, or about 1.4% of after-tax income. Those top earners would also receive 60% of the total tax benefits under the plan. Of that, the top 1% of earners, defined as those making more than $730,000 a year, receive about 22% of the total amount of tax cuts in 2018, the Tax Policy Center said.

Elon Musk backs call for global ban on killer robots


The world's leading artificial intelligence experts are sounding the alarm on killer robots. Tesla (TSLA) boss Elon Musk is among a group of 116 founders of robotics and artificial intelligence companies who are calling on the United Nations to ban autonomous weapons. "Lethal autonomous weapons threaten to become the third revolution in warfare. Once developed, they will permit armed conflict to be fought at a scale greater than ever, and at timescales faster than humans can comprehend," the experts warn in an open letter released Monday. "These can be weapons of terror, weapons that despots and terrorists use against innocent populations, and weapons hacked to behave in undesirable ways," the letter says.

U.N. votes for Japan co-drafted resolution slamming North Korea for diverting dire food funds to arms programs

The Japan Times

UNITED NATIONS โ€“ U.N. member states on Tuesday condemned widespread human rights violations in North Korea and expressed concerns that funds needed to ease the dire humanitarian crisis are spent on Pyongyang's missile and nuclear arms programs. A resolution drafted by Japan and the European Union was adopted by a consensus vote in the General Assembly's committee on humanitarian affairs. Following the vote, diplomats from China, Pyongyang's ally, Russia, Syria, Iran and Cuba took the floor to state they were disassociating themselves from the outcome. The full General Assembly is expected to vote on the measure next month. North Korea has conducted two nuclear tests this year and test-fired a series of missiles, even as 18 million North Koreans out of a total population of 25 million are facing food shortages, Japan's ambassador said.