L.A. Fire Department used drones for the first time during Skirball fire

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Fire Department dispatched drones for the first time while battling a wildfire this month as firefighters took on the Skirball fire in Bel-Air.

The LAPD will use drones—and people are pissed


Los Angeles' Blade Runner-esque future of a world watched by robots is here.

Civilian oversight panel hears guidelines for LAPD use of drones

Los Angeles Times

The Los Angeles Police Department released formal guidelines on its proposal to fly drones during a one-year pilot program, spurring questions and concerns among members of a civilian oversight panel and the public at a contentious meeting Tuesday. "Our challenge is to create a policy that strikes a balance, that promotes public safety, the safety of our officers and does not infringe on individual privacy rights," Assistant Chief Beatrice Girmala told the Los Angeles Police Commission at the packed meeting. Before outlining the guidelines, Girmala reviewed initial feedback from the community on the proposed drone initiative. Of 1,675 emails, only about 6% were positive and encouraged the LAPD to incorporate the new technology. The Police Commission must approve the pilot program before any of the unmanned aircraft are flown.

Google's comment ranking system will be a hit with the alt-right


A recent, sprawling Wired feature outlined the results of its analysis on toxicity in online commenters across the United States. Unsurprisingly, it was like catnip for everyone who's ever heard the phrase "don't read the comments." According to The Great Tech Panic: Trolls Across America, Vermont has the most toxic online commenters, whereas Sharpsburg, Georgia "is the least toxic city in the US." The underlying API used to determine "toxicity" scores phrases like "I am a gay black woman" as 87 percent toxicity, and phrases like "I am a man" as the least toxic. The API, called Perspective, is made by Google's Alphabet within its Jigsaw incubator.

The Racists of OkCupid Don't Usually Carry Tiki Torches


In the days before white supremacists descended on Charlottesville, Bumble had already been in the process of strengthening its anti-racism efforts, partly in response to an attack the Daily Stormer had waged on the company, encouraging its readers to harass the staff of Bumble in order to protest the company's public support of women's empowerment. Bumble bans any user who disrespects their customer service team, figuring that a guy who harasses women who work for Bumble would probably harass women who use Bumble. After the neo-Nazi attack, Bumble contacted the Anti-Defamation League for help identifying hate symbols and rooting out users who include them in their Bumble profiles. Now, the employees who respond to user reports have the ADL's glossary of hate symbols as a guide to telltale signs of hate-group membership, and any profile with language from the glossary will get flagged as potentially problematic. The platform has also added the Confederate flag to its list of prohibited images.


FOX News

Just one week after the sheriff's department in Cecil County, Md., got its brand new drone up and running, it was asked to investigate a case of stolen construction equipment. So the Cecil County Sheriff sent his Typhoon H Pro to investigate. The sheriff's department in Somerset County, N.J., hopes its drones could help it find missing people. "Years ago, when we had people wander off, we would bring out the rescue department, the fire department, fire department volunteers, K-9 if we had it and we'd search and search and search and never find the person," said Somerset County Sheriff Frank Provensano.

Police Using Technology To Fight Crime Threatens Black Neighborhoods

International Business Times

But the city's new effort seems to ignore evidence, including recent research from members of our policing study team at the Human Rights Data Analysis Group, that predictive policing tools reinforce, rather than reimagine, existing police practices. Machine-learning algorithms learn to make predictions by analyzing patterns in an initial training data set and then look for similar patterns in new data as they come in. Our recent study, by Human Rights Data Analysis Group's Kristian Lum and William Isaac, found that predictive policing vendor PredPol's purportedly race-neutral algorithm targeted black neighborhoods at roughly twice the rate of white neighborhoods when trained on historical drug crime data from Oakland, California. This should start with community members and police departments discussing policing priorities and measures of police performance.

Surprised Breitbart advertisers highlight the pitfalls of automated advertising


The Anti-Defamation League hasn't been shy about its condemnation of Breitbart News, an outlet it calls the "premiere website" for the "loose-knit group of white nationalists and unabashed anti-Semites and racists" it claims constitutes the so-called "alt-right" movement. So it came as a bit of a shock recently when the Jewish rights group discovered that it happened to number among the site's advertisers. The ADL wasn't the only one; As Breitbart chairman Steve Bannon's new White House gig brought renewed media attention to the agitative far-right site's less savory tendencies, Kellogg, Warby Parker, U.S. Bank and several other major brands also found that they had been unwittingly supporting it with their ad dollars. "We regularly work with our media buying partners to ensure our ads do not appear on sites that aren't aligned with our values as a company," a Kellogg spokesperson said at the time. "As you can imagine, there is a very large volume of websites, so occasionally something is inadvertently missed."

2 charged with hate crimes after black family's home is hit by Molotov cocktails and racist graffiti

Los Angeles Times

In a crime that shocked a California Delta community, a man and woman were charged with hate crimes Tuesday in connection with launching Molotov cocktails into the home of a black family in Antioch and spray-painting the residence with a swastika and racial slurs, police said. Bayer buying Monsanto, Uber's self-driving cars, a Navy commander faces attempted rape charges, and Hesperia's halfway houses might be closed. Bayer buying Monsanto, Uber's self-driving cars, a Navy commander faces attempted rape charges, and Hesperia's halfway houses might be closed. Shirley Teeter was punched while attending a Donald Trump rally on Sept. 13 in Asheville, N.C. Shirley Teeter was punched while attending a Donald Trump rally on Sept. 13 in Asheville, N.C. For breaking news in California, follow VeronicaRochaLA on Twitter.

Weaponized robot used by Dallas police opens ethical debate

The Japan Times

While there doesn't appear to be any hard data on the subject, security experts and law enforcement officials said they couldn't recall another time when police deployed a robot with lethal intent. Meanwhile, militaries around the world have come to rely on their robotic friends to disable improvised explosive devices -- a need that only increased with the U.S. occupation of Iraq following its 2003 invasion. One robot developed by China's National Defense University called AnBot has been designed for "an important role in enhancing the country's anti-terrorism and anti-riot measures," according to its website. A 2014 report by Human Rights Watch and Harvard Law School's International Human Rights Clinic raised concerns about the use of fully autonomous weapons in law enforcement operations.