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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. Fire officials demonstrated the use of the unmanned aerial vehicles for reporters on Thursday, sending two drones buzzing near blackened hills around Linda Flora Drive. "They provide real-time situational awareness from a bird's-eye perspective to the incident commander so they can see what's going on at their emergency and then change their tactics accordingly to mitigate the hazards," said Capt. Firefighters used two DJI Matrice 100 drones during the Skirball fire, Scott said. One had a high-definition camera used to survey the burn area, and the other had an infrared camera to assess hot spots.


Alt-right accuses Amazon's Alexa of liberal political bias

Daily Mail

Smart assistants are designed to tackle a whole host of everyday tasks, but some users are unhappy that this seems to include taking a stand on political issues. Amazon's Alexa has come under fire on social media thanks to the AI-powered speaker's thoughts on a number of hot button topics. Some have branded Alexa a'social justice warrior' because of her responses to questions on subjects ranging from feminism to the Black Lives Matter movement. Smart assistants are designed to tackle a whole host of everyday tasks but some users are unhappy that this seems to include taking a stand on political issues. Amazon's Alexa has come under fire thanks to the AI powered speaker's thoughts on a number of hot button topics The response has been particularly vociferous among the alt-right community on social media.


The LAPD will use drones—and people are pissed

Mashable

Los Angeles' Blade Runner-esque future of a world watched by robots is here. On Tuesday, a civilian oversight panel gave the Los Angeles Police Department (LAPD) the OK to begin a year-long drone trial, primarily for reconnaissance in "tactical missions" conducted by SWAT. The decision came after a contentious meeting and protest by privacy advocates who oppose the use of drones by law enforcement. As the third largest police force in the nation behind New York and Chicago, the trial makes the LAPD the largest police force in the nation to use drones. The Chicago PD and New York PD confirmed in official statements to Mashable that neither police force deploys drones.


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. An assistant chief, the police chief and two police commissioners would also be notified.


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

Engadget

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. To broadly determine what is and isn't toxic, Disqus uses the Perspective API--software from Alphabet's Jigsaw division that plugs into its system. Pasting her "Dear white people" into Perspective's API got a score of 61 percent toxicity. It's possible that the tool is seeking out comments with terms like black, gay, and woman as high potential for being abusive or negative, but that would make Perspective an expensive, overkill wrapper for the equivalent of using Command-F to demonize words that some people might find upsetting.


drones-become-newest-crime-fighting-tool-for-police.html

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

Mashable

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.