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How Companies Tried to Use the Pandemic to Get Law Enforcement to Use More Drones

Slate

In April, as COVID-19 cases exploded across the U.S. and local officials scrambled for solutions, a police department in Connecticut tried a new way to monitor the spread of the virus. One morning, as masked shoppers lined up 6 feet apart outside Trader Joe's in Westport, the police department flew a drone overhead to observe their social distancing and detect potential coronavirus symptoms, such as high temperature and increased heart rate. According to internal emails, the captain flying the mission wanted to "take advantage" of the store's line. But the store had no heads-up about the flight, and neither did the customers on their grocery runs, even though the drone technology managed to track figures both inside and outside. The drone program was unveiled a week later when the department announced its "Flatten the Curve Pilot Program" in collaboration with the Canadian drone company Draganfly, which was due to last through the summer. But less than 48 hours later after the program's public unveiling, the police department was forced to dump it amid intense backlash from Westport residents.


Trump made a mess of tech policy. Here's what Biden is inheriting.

Mashable

It's hard to focus on the nitty gritty of tech policy when the world is on fire. Take, for example, his fight against Big Tech in the name of "anti-conservative bias" (no, it doesn't exist), which resulted in an assault on Section 230. Experts say the true aim of those efforts was to undermine content moderation, and normalize the white supremacist attitudes that helped put people like Trump in power. Unfortunately, those allegations will have life for years to come as a form of "zombie Trumpism," as Berin Szoka, a senior fellow at the technology policy organization TechFreedom, put it. Trump may be gone from office and Twitter.


Trump pardons Anthony Levandowski, who stole trade secrets from Google

Mashable

Donald Trump is on his way out of the White House, but that didn't stop him from pardoning 73 people and commuting the sentences of another 70 people on the last day of his presidency. One name on that list is Anthony Levandowski, who was sentenced to 18 months in prison for stealing trade secrets from the Google-owned, self-driving car company Waymo. Levandowski was a co-founder of Google's self-driving car division before leaving the tech giant in 2016 to start a self-driving truck company called Otto. That company was subsequently acquired by Uber, and Waymo filed a lawsuit alleging that their confidential information ended up in the hands of Uber. Levandowski was looking at a 10-year sentence, but he eventually pleaded guilty to trade secret theft, thus reducing his prison sentence.


Donald Trump pardons ex-Waymo, Uber engineer Anthony Levandowski

Engadget

Last year Anthony Levandowski pleaded guilty to one count of stealing materials from Google, where he was an engineer for its self-driving car efforts before leaving to found a startup that he sold to Uber. The judge said during his sentencing that his theft of documents and emails constituted the "biggest trade secret crime I have ever seen." Now, on the last day of Donald Trump's administration, Trump issued a series of pardons -- the Department of Justice has more information on how those work here -- and commutations that covered people who worked on his campaign like Steve Bannon and Elliott Broidy, as well as Levandowski. A press release from the White House noted tech billionaires Peter Thiel and Palmer Luckey were among those supporting a pardon for Levandowski, and it makes the claim that this engineer "paid a significant price for his actions and plans to devote his talents to advance the public good." It also noted that his plea covered only a single charge, omitting mention of the 33 charges he'd been indicted on.


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.


FAA Issues Long-Anticipated Rules for Commercial Drones

WSJ.com: WSJD - Technology

The new approach, replacing stringent protections that currently bar practically all home-delivery options, goes into effect in two months, but some requirements are likely to take years to implement. The detailed regulations, which total more than 700 pages and parts of which had been in the works since the Obama administration, also aim to address concerns related to law enforcement, national security and privacy protection. "They get us closer to the day when we will more routinely see drone operations such as the delivery of packages," FAA chief Steve Dickson said in a written statement accompanying the rules. Mr. Dickson has told colleagues he intends to stay on under the Biden administration, according to people involved in the conversations, to fill out the remainder of his five-year term ending in 2024. The rules are unlikely to be affected by other personnel changes.


2020 tech transformation: Year in review

FOX News

President Trump reacts to the media and Big Tech's role in politics in a'Sunday Morning Futures' exclusive. The year 2020 proved to be a pivotal one in tech, as companies provided essential services during the coronavirus pandemic and unveiled 5G telecom technology while facing unprecedented antitrust scrutiny and accusations of censorship amid an intense election and social justice movement. "I think sometimes we hear that … U.S. innovation is slowing down, and I think the last year has shown that that's not really the case," Neil Chilson, senior research fellow for tech and innovation at the Charles Koch Institute, told Fox News. Chilson gave examples of the country's rapid COVID-19 vaccine development, SpaceX's astronaut launch in May and autonomous driving company Waymo's recent announcement that its self-driving cars will be completely autonomous in trials in Phoenix. "I'm pretty excited about the future. I think 2020 shows that the U.S. is still the world leader in tech and innovation, and we should continue to maintain our cultural appreciation for innovation and a regulatory environment that enables it," he said.


DJI says products will stay on sale despite US trade ban

Engadget

DJI hasn't been deterred by the US Commerce Department's trade ban. The drone maker told TechCrunch that Americans can buy and use its products "normally" despite the company's presence on an entity list barring US companies from doing business with the firm. DJI "remains committed" to making innovative hardware, a spokesperson said. The Commerce Department added DJI to the list for having allegedly "enabled wide-scale human rights abuses" in China, including drones used to help with the surveillance and persecution of Uyghur Muslims. It's not certain how long usual business might last.


Developing Future Human-Centered Smart Cities: Critical Analysis of Smart City Security, Interpretability, and Ethical Challenges

arXiv.org Artificial Intelligence

As we make tremendous advances in machine learning and artificial intelligence technosciences, there is a renewed understanding in the AI community that we must ensure that humans being are at the center of our deliberations so that we don't end in technology-induced dystopias. As strongly argued by Green in his book Smart Enough City, the incorporation of technology in city environs does not automatically translate into prosperity, wellbeing, urban livability, or social justice. There is a great need to deliberate on the future of the cities worth living and designing. There are philosophical and ethical questions involved along with various challenges that relate to the security, safety, and interpretability of AI algorithms that will form the technological bedrock of future cities. Several research institutes on human centered AI have been established at top international universities. Globally there are calls for technology to be made more humane and human-compatible. For example, Stuart Russell has a book called Human Compatible AI. The Center for Humane Technology advocates for regulators and technology companies to avoid business models and product features that contribute to social problems such as extremism, polarization, misinformation, and Internet addiction. In this paper, we analyze and explore key challenges including security, robustness, interpretability, and ethical challenges to a successful deployment of AI or ML in human-centric applications, with a particular emphasis on the convergence of these challenges. We provide a detailed review of existing literature on these key challenges and analyze how one of these challenges may lead to others or help in solving other challenges. The paper also advises on the current limitations, pitfalls, and future directions of research in these domains, and how it can fill the current gaps and lead to better solutions.


California man charged with crashing drone into LAPD helicopter

FOX News

Fox News Flash top headlines are here. Check out what's clicking on Foxnews.com. A Hollywood man who operated a drone that crashed into a police helicopter, forcing an emergency landing, is facing a federal charge. Andrew Rene Hernandez, 22, was arrested by FBI agents Thursday and charged with one count of unsafe operation of an unmanned aircraft, the Justice Department said. The criminal case is believed to be the first in the nation stemming from a drone collision.