Facial recognition can log you into your iPhone, track criminals through crowds and identify loyal customers in stores. The technology -- which is imperfect but improving rapidly -- is based on algorithms that learn how to recognize human faces and the hundreds of ways in which each one is unique. To do this well, the algorithms must be fed hundreds of thousands of images of a diverse array of faces. Increasingly, those photos are coming from the internet, where they're swept up by the millions without the knowledge of the people who posted them, categorized by age, gender, skin tone and dozens of other metrics, and shared with researchers at universities and companies. As the algorithms get more advanced -- meaning they are better able to identify women and people of color, a task they have historically struggled with -- legal experts and civil rights advocates are sounding the alarm on researchers' use of photos of ordinary people.
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For the ongoing series, Code Word, we're exploring if -- and how -- technology can protect individuals against sexual assault and harassment, and how it can help and support survivors. You walk through the door and set your bags on the floor. You pose for a selfie with your hotel room in the background, uploading it to Instagram with seemingly random hashtags. For your followers, the photo is a means of documenting your travels. For investigators, you've just taken a crime scene photo that might one day help them to track down victims of human trafficking.
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The challenges of making the technology industry a more welcoming place for women are numerous, especially in the booming field of artificial intelligence. To get a sense of just how monumental a task the tech community faces, look no further than the marquee gathering for AI's top scientists. Preparations for this year's event drew controversy not only because there weren't enough female speakers or study authors. The biggest debate was over the conference's name. The annual Conference and Workshop on Neural Information Processing Systems, formerly known as NIPS, had become a punchline symbol about just how bad the gender imbalance is for artificial intelligence.
China now has seminars to teach other countries how to censor free speech as its'techno-dystopia' spreads, a worrying report has found. Governments worldwide are stepping up use of online tools to suppress dissent and tighten their grip on power, a human rights watchdog study found. Chinese officials have held sessions on controlling information with 36 of the 65 countries assessed, and provided telecom and surveillance equipment to a number of foreign governments, researchers said. India led the world in the number of internet shutdowns, with over 100 reported incidents in 2018 so far, claiming that the moves were needed to halt the flow of disinformation and incitement to violence. Many governments, including Saudi Arabia, are employing'troll armies' to manipulate social media and in many cases drown out the voices of dissidents.
Two Artificial Intelligence-driven Internet paradigms may emerge in the near future. One will be based on logic, smart enterprises and human merit while the other may morph into an Orwellian control tool. Even former Google CEO Eric Schmidt has foreseen a bifurcation of the Internet by 2028 and China's eventual triumph in the AI race by 2030. In the meantime, the US seems more interested in deflecting the smart questions of today than in building the smart factories of tomorrow. Nothing embodies this better than the recent attempt by MIT's Computer Science and Artificial Intelligence Lab (CSAIL) and the Qatar Computing Research Institute (QCRI) to create an AI-based filter to "stamp out fake-news outlets before the stories spread too widely."
Dating apps that allow users to filter their searches by race - or rely on algorithms that pair up people of the same race - reinforce racial divisions and biases, according to a new paper by Cornell University researchers. Researchers called for the apps to be redesigned, and for'racist' algorithms should be reprogrammed. Experts say that amid the huge rise in the usage of dating apps are meaning people are failing to meet diverse potential partners. Cornell researchers called for the apps to be redesigned, and for'racist' algorithms should be reprogrammed. The paper revealed how simple design decisions could decrease bias against people of all marginalized groups.
Sinakhone Keodara reached his breaking point last July. Loading up Grindr, the gay dating app that presents users with potential mates in close geographical proximity to them, the founder of a Los Angeles-based Asian television streaming service came across the profile of an elderly white man. He struck up a conversation, and received a three-word response: "Asian, ew gross." He is now considering suing Grindr for racial discrimination. For black and ethnic minority singletons, dipping a toe into the water of dating apps can involve subjecting yourself to racist abuse and crass intolerance.
Following the Facebook-Cambridge Analytica data scandal, everyone is a little more conscious about their digital activity, and keeping their data secure. But with the rise of Artificial Intelligence (AI), what other factors may we need to consider? Imagine a scenario where you are in the supermarket. Your eyes fixed on a box of cereal for a few seconds, you hear your mobile phone beep and you receive a special offer for that particular product. This futuristic-sounding scenario may not actually be too far away from becoming a reality, and some important questions need to be asked.