Every year, it gets harder to keep up with technology updates in convenience services. For many industry players, the pandemic put some projects on hold, but the surging interest in contactless transactions accelerated expansion of technology innovation. An early morning session, "Trending Technologies in Convenience Services," gave attendees a chance to unpack the key tech innovations at the National Automatic Merchandising Association show at Chicago's McCormick Place. "The pandemic has given us a lot of new terms, and it's also accelerated the digital transformation of the industry," session moderator Michael Kasavana, Ph.D., the NAMA endowed professor emeritus, observed at the outset. The well attended session provided updates on artificial intelligence services for convenience services, contactless payments and ways to prevent the growing cybercrime threat.
Clearview AI has promised to stop selling its controversial face-recognizing tech to most private US companies in a settlement proposed this week with the ACLU. The New-York-based startup made headlines in 2020 for scraping billions of images from people's public social media pages. These photographs were used to build a facial-recognition database system, allowing the biz to link future snaps of people to their past and current online profiles. Clearview's software can, for example, be shown a face from a CCTV still, and if it recognizes the person from its database, it can return not only the URLs to that person's social networking pages, from where they were first seen, but also copies that allow that person to be identified, traced, and contacted. That same year, the ACLU sued the biz, claiming it violated Illinois' Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which requires organizations operating in the US state to obtain explicit consent from its residents to collect their biometric data, which includes their photographs.
Clearview AI has proposed to restrict sales of its faceprint database as part of a settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU). The controversial facial recognition firm caused a stir due to scraping billions of images of people across the web without their consent. As a result, the company has faced the ire of regulators around the world and numerous court cases. One court case filed against Clearview AI was by the ACLU in 2020, claiming that it violated the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA). That act covers Illinois and requires companies operating in the state to obtain explicit consent from individuals to collect their biometric data.
In a landmark settlement, facial recognition company Clearwater AI, known for downloading billions of user photos from social media and other websites to build a face-search database for use by law enforcement, has agreed to cease sales to private companies and individuals in the United States. Filed in Illinois' federal court on Monday, the settlement marks the most significant action against the New York-based company to date, and reigns in a technology that has reportedly been used by Ukraine to track "people of interest" during the ongoing Russian invasion. The lawsuit was brought by the non-profit American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), and Mujeres Latinas en Acción, among others, in 2020 over alleged violations of an Illinois digital privacy law, with the settlement pending approval by a federal judge. Adopted in 2008, the Illinois law, known as the Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), has so far led to several key tech-privacy settlements, including a $550 million settlement from Facebook related to its facial recognition use. Although Clearwater AI has agreed to stop selling its services to the Illinois government and local police services for five years, the company will continue to offer its services to other law enforcement and federal agencies, and government contractors outside of Illinois.
Notorious facial recognition company Clearview AI has agreed to permanently halt sales of its massive biometric database to all private companies and individuals in the United States as part of a legal settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, per court records. Monday's announcement marks the close of a two-year legal dispute brought by the ACLU and privacy advocate groups in May of 2020 against the company over allegations that it had violated BIPA, the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. This act requires companies to obtain permission before harvesting a person's biometric information -- fingerprints, gait metrics, iris scans and faceprints for example -- and empowers users to sue the companies who do not. "Fourteen years ago, the ACLU of Illinois led the effort to enact BIPA – a groundbreaking statute to deal with the growing use of sensitive biometric information without any notice and without meaningful consent," Rebecca Glenberg, staff attorney for the ACLU of Illinois, said in a statement. "BIPA was intended to curb exactly the kind of broad-based surveillance that Clearview's app enables. Today's agreement begins to ensure that Clearview complies with the law. This should be a strong signal to other state legislatures to adopt similar statutes."
Even a limited win for digital privacy can feel significant, especially when Clearview AI is on the losing end. Clearview AI, the facial-recognition company which made headlines in January of 2020 for secretly scraping billions of photos from social media sites, will be prohibited from selling access to its tools under the terms of a settlement filed Monday in federal court. Notably, the settlement only applies to most private companies, and does not block sales to law enforcement (except in the state of Illinois). The settlement is the result of a lawsuit in which the ACLU was the plaintiff, with the organization noting that the suit was filed on behalf of "vulnerable communities uniquely harmed by face recognition surveillance" such as "survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, undocumented immigrants, [and] current and former sex workers[.]" At issue is the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act (BIPA), which explicitly precludes private companies from acquiring state residents' "biometric information" without prior notification and consent.
Notorious facial recognition company Clearview AI has agreed to permanently halt sales of its massive biometric database to all private companies and individuals in the United States as part of a legal settlement with the American Civil Liberties Union, per court records. Monday's announcement marks the close of a two-year legal dispute brought by the ACLU and privacy advocate groups in May of 2020 against the company over allegations that it had violated BIPA, the 2008 Illinois Biometric Information Privacy Act. This act requires companies to obtain permission before harvesting a person's biometric information -- fingerprints, gait metrics, iris and face scans for example -- and empowers users to sue the companies who do not. In addition to the nationwide private party sales ban, Clearview will not offer any of its services to Illinois local and state law enforcement agencies (as well as all private parties) for the next five years. "This means that within Illinois, Clearview cannot take advantage of BIPA's exception for government contractors during that time," the ACLU points out, though Federal agencies, state and local law enforcement departments outside of Illinois will be unaffected.
An interdisciplinary group of researchers developed an artificial intelligence algorithm capable of writing reviews for wine and beer that are largely indistinguishable from those penned by a human critic. Wine and beer reviews also make a great template for AI-generated text, he explains, because their descriptions contain a lot of specific variables, such as growing region, grape or wheat variety, fermentation style and year of production. "It only understands binary 0's and 1's." Kopalle adds that his team would like to test the algorithm's predictive potential in the future--to have it guess what an as-yet-unreviewed wine would taste like, then compare its description to that of a human reviewer. "An online product review has the ability to really change people's opinion," notes Ben Zhao, a machine learning and cybersecurity expert at the University of Chicago, who was not involved in the new study.
The virus's spike proteins (purple) are a key antibody target, with some antibodies attaching to the top (darker purple) and others to the stem (paler zone). A new study shows that it is possible to use the genetic sequences of a person's antibodies to predict what pathogens those antibodies will target. "Our research is in a very early stage, but this proof-of-concept study shows that we can use machine learning to connect the sequence of an antibody to its function," said Nicholas Wu, a professor of biochemistry at the University of Illinois Urbana-Champaign who led the research with biochemistry PhD student Yiquan Wang; and Meng Yuan, a staff scientist at Scripps Research in La Jolla, California. With enough data, scientists should be able to predict not only the virus an antibody will attack, but which features on the pathogen the antibody binds to, Wu said. For example, an antibody may attach to different parts of the spike protein on the SARS-CoV-2 virus.