Oliver Letwin, the unlikely merchant of technological doom

The Guardian

Oliver Letwin's strange and somewhat alarming new book begins at midnight on Thursday 31 December 2037. In Swindon – stay with me! – a man called Aameen Patel is working the graveyard shift at Highways England's traffic HQ when his computer screen goes blank, and the room is plunged into darkness. He tries to report these things to his superiors, but can get no signal on his mobile. Looking at the motorway from the viewing window by his desk, he observes, not an orderly stream of traffic, but a dramatic pile-up of crashed cars and lorries – at which point he realises something is seriously amiss. In the Britain of 2037, everything, or almost everything, is controlled by 7G wireless technology, from the national grid to the traffic (not only are cars driverless; a vehicle cannot even join a motorway without logging into an "on-route guidance system"). There is, then, only one possible explanation: the entire 7G network must have gone down. It sounds like I'm describing a novel – and it's true that Aameen Patel will soon be joined by another fictional creation in the form of Bill Donoghue, who works at the Bank of England, and whose job it will be to tell the prime minister that the country is about to pay a heavy price for its cashless economy, given that even essential purchases will not be possible until the network is back up (Bill's mother-in-law is also one of thousands of vulnerable people whose carers will soon be unable to get to them, the batteries in their electric cars having gone flat).

Prepare for a Long Battle against Deepfakes - KDnuggets


When Stephen Hawking warned of the dangers of Artificial Intelligence in 2015, his concerns were about the Superhuman AI that would pose an existential risk to humanity. But in recent years, much more imminent danger of AI has emerged that even a genius like Hawking could not have predicted. Deepfakes depict people in videos they never appeared in, saying things they never said and doing things they never really did. Some of the harmless ones have the actor Nicolas Cage's face superimposed on his Hollywood's peers while the more serious and dangerous ones target politicians like the US House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. Deeptrace, a cybersecurity startup based in Amsterdam found 14,698 deepfakes in June and July, an 84% increase since December of 2018 when the number of AI-manipulated videos was 7,964.

Saving the world one algorithm at a time The Age of A.I.


Many say that human beings have destroyed our planet. Because of this these people are endeavoring to save it through the help of artificial intelligence. Famine, animal extinction, and war may all be preventable one day with the help of technology. The Age of A.I. is a 8 part documentary series hosted by Robert Downey Jr. covering the ways Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and Neural Networks will change the world. You choose -- watch all episodes uninterrupted with YouTube Premium now, or wait to watch new episodes free with ads.

How AI faces are being weaponized online


As an activist, Nandini Jammi has become accustomed to getting harassed online, often by faceless social media accounts. But this time was different: a menacing tweet was sent her way from an account with a profile picture of a woman with blonde hair and a beaming smile. The woman went only by a first name, "Jessica," and her short Twitter biography read: "If you are a bully I will fight you." In her tweet sent to Jammi last July, she said: "why haven't you cleaned your info from Adult Friend Finder? It's only been three years."

A Decade Of Change: How Tech Evolved In The 2010s And What's In Store For The 2020s


Significant technological advancements and societal shifts occurred during the 2010's decade. Yet many of these developments became so quickly engrained in our daily lives that they often went relatively unnoticed, and their impact all but forgotten. Over this next decade, the 2020s, we expect similar rapid and meaningful advancements to occur. Moore's law suggests that over a 10-year period, semiconductors will advance by 32 times, bringing about mesmerizing innovation in the digital age that should not only change technology but society as well. In this piece, we review the technological advancements over the last decade and anticipate what revolutionary changes may be in store for us over the next 10 years.

The real test of an AI machine is when it can admit to not knowing something John Naughton


On Wednesday the European Commission launched a blizzard of proposals and policy papers under the general umbrella of "shaping Europe's digital future". The documents released included: a report on the safety and liability implications of artificial intelligence, the internet of things and robotics; a paper outlining the EU's strategy for data; and a white paper on "excellence and trust" in artificial intelligence. In their general tenor, the documents evoke the blend of technocracy, democratic piety and ambitiousness that is the hallmark of EU communications. That said, it is also the case that in terms of doing anything to get tech companies under some kind of control, the European Commission is the only game in town. In a nice coincidence, the policy blitz came exactly 24 hours after Mark Zuckerberg, supreme leader of Facebook, accompanied by his bag-carrier – a guy called Nicholas Clegg who looked vaguely familiar – had called on the commission graciously to explain to its officials the correct way to regulate tech companies.

AI sent first coronavirus alert, but underestimated the danger


Research suggests that an AI beat humans to the punch in warning the world about the coronavirus. But it didn't get all the credit, because it needed humans to recognize the danger. Earlier reports had suggested that a Canadian epidemiologist had raised the first warnings of the outbreak, using an algorithm called BlueDot that scanned news reports and airline ticketing to predict the spread of the disease. Associated Press reporters Christina Larson and Matt O'Brien were dubious about the claim, and decided to draw up a timeline of when global alert systems noticed the signals. They determined that the first warning outside China of the virus came from the automated HealthMap system at Boston Children's Hospital, which scans online news and social media reports for signals of spreading disease.

Do AI startups have worse economics than SaaS shops? – TechCrunch


A few days ago, Andreessen Horowitz's Martin Casado and Matt Bornstein published an interesting piece digging into the world of artificial intelligence (AI) startups, and, more specifically, how those companies perform as businesses. Core to the argument presented is that while founders and investors are wagering "that AI businesses will resemble traditional software companies," the well-known venture firm is "not so sure." Given that TechCrunch cares a lot about startup business fundamentals, the notion that one oft-discussed and well-funded category of venture-backed startup might sport materially less attractive economics than we expected captured our attention. The Andreessen Horowitz (a16z) perspective is straightforward, arguing that AI-focused companies have lesser gross margins than software companies due to cloud compute and human-input costs, endure issues stemming from "edge-cases" and enjoy less product differentiation from competing companies when compared to software concerns. Today, we're drilling into the gross margin point, as it's something inherently numerical that we can get other, informed market participants to weigh in on.

Facebook will pay for users' voice recordings after it was caught listening to Messenger chats

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Facebook says it will start paying users to harvest their voice data for training speech recognition software after it was caught analyzing their speech without permission last year. In a program called'Pronunciations', participants will be payed a small sum, only up to $5, to use the company's market research app Viewpoints for recording various words and phrases that the company will then leverage to train its speech recognition AI. That voice data will be used to improve products like Portal, which is Facebook's smart display that can be used for video-calling among other things and can be activated with one's voice. In the program, participants, who must be at least 18-years-old, will have to utter specific phrases like'Hey Portal' and also say the first names of 10 of their friends on Facebook. For each'set' of prompts participants will receive 200 points.

Artificial Intelligence and Modern Journalism Daily times


These days almost every journalism conference has at least one session on the role of Artificial Intelligence (AI) in modern journalism and, interesting, it is always been asked: "will AI replace journalists and writers?". Last week I had an opportunity to visit the technology center of America's top news agency in Washington. There were using many tools and techniques to generate quick, accurate and foolproof contents using Artificial Intelligence (AI). These tools had multiple layers of data-centric AI wrappers to ensure the filtration of Fake News. During my visit, I was able to produce 550 words article, based on a press release, with a single click and amazingly this article had many relevant references from the past.