Make: a facial-recognition confounding "Opt Out Cap"

Mac Pierce created a simple wearable to challenge facial recognition: do a little munging to an image of a face, print it on heat transfer paper, iron it onto see-through mosquito netting, slice, and affix to a billed cap -- deploy it in the presence of facial recognition cameras and you'll be someone else. It's the kind of "adversarial example" countermeasure that fools computers pretty reliably but wouldn't work on a human. (via JWZ) Read the rest

"Affordances": a new science fiction story that climbs the terrible technology adoption curve

"Affordances" is my new science fiction story for Slate/ASU's Future Tense project; it's a tale exploring my theory of "the shitty technology adoption curve," in which terrible technological ideas are first imposed on poor and powerless people, and then refined and normalized until they are spread over all the rest of us. Read the rest

Educational spyware company to school boards: hire us to spy on your kids and we'll help you sabotage teachers' strikes

Gaggle is one of a handful of creepy companies that sell surveillance software to school districts, which monitor every keystroke and click on school networks -- they're the latest evolution in spy-on-kids tech, which started off by promising that they'd stop kids from seeing porn, then promised they could end bullying, and now advertise themselves as a solution for school shootings, under the banner of being a "Safety Management Platform." Read the rest

When the HR department is a robotic phrenologist: "face-scanning algorithm" gains popularity as a job-applicant screener

Hirevue is an "AI" company that companies contract with to screen job applicants: it conducts an hour-long videoconference session with applicants, analyzing their facial expressions, word-choices and other factors (the company does not actually explain what these are, nor have they ever subjected their system to independent scrutiny) and makes recommendations about who should get the job. Read the rest

Training bias in AI "hate speech detector" means that tweets by Black people are far more likely to be censored

More bad news for Google's beleaguered spinoff Jigsaw, whose flagship project is "Perspective," a machine-learning system designed to catch and interdict harassment, hate-speech and other undesirable online speech. Read the rest

"Intellectual Debt": It's bad enough when AI gets its predictions wrong, but it's potentially WORSE when AI gets it right

Jonathan Zittrain (previously) is consistently a source of interesting insights that often arrive years ahead of their wider acceptance in tech, law, ethics and culture (2008's The Future of the Internet (and how to stop it) is surprisingly relevant 11 years later); in a new long essay on Medium (shorter version in the New Yorker), Zittrain examines the perils of the "intellectual debt" that we incur when we allow machine learning systems that make predictions whose rationale we don't understand, because without an underlying theory of those predictions, we can't know their limitations. Read the rest

Scite: a tool to find out if a scientific paper has been supported or contradicted since its publication

The Scite project has a corpus of millions of scientific articles that it has analyzed with deep learning tools to determine whether any given paper has been supported or contradicted by subsequent publications; you can check Scite via the website, or install a browser plugin version (Firefox, Chrome). (Thanks, Josh!) Read the rest

A generalized method for re-identifying people in "anonymized" data-sets

"Anonymized data" is one of those holy grails, like "healthy ice-cream" or "selectively breakable crypto" -- if "anonymized data" is a thing, then companies can monetize their surveillance dossiers on us by selling them to all comers, without putting us at risk or putting themselves in legal jeopardy (to say nothing of the benefits to science and research of being able to do large-scale data analyses and then publish them along with the underlying data for peer review without posing a risk to the people in the data-set, AKA "release and forget"). Read the rest

Interactive map of public facial recognition systems in America

Evan Greer from Fight for the Future writes, "Facial recognition might be the most invasive and dangerous form of surveillance tech ever invented. While it's been in the headlines lately, most of us still don't know whether it's happening in our area. My organization Fight for the Future has compiled an interactive map that shows everywhere in the US (that we know of) facial recognition being used -- but also where there are local efforts to ban it, like has already happened in San Francisco, Oakland, and Somerville, MA. We've also got a tool kit for local residents who want to get an ordinance or state legislation passed in their area." Read the rest

China's AI industry is tanking

In Q2 2018, Chinese investors sank $2.87b into AI startups; in Q2 2019, it was $140.7m. Read the rest

AI is like a magic trick: amazing until it goes wrong, then revealed as a cheap and brittle effect

I used to be on the program committee for the O'Reilly Emerging Technology conferences; one year we decided to make the theme "magic" -- all the ways that new technologies were doing things that baffled us and blew us away. Read the rest

Make: a machine-learning toy on open-source hardware

In the latest Adafruit video (previously) the proprietors, Limor "ladyada" Friend and Phil Torrone, explain the basics of machine learning, with particular emphasis on the difference between computing a model (hard) and implementing the model (easy and simple enough to run on relatively low-powered hardware), and then they install and run Tensorflow Light on a small, open-source handheld and teach it to distinguish between someone saying "No" and someone saying "Yes," in just a few minutes. It's an interesting demonstration of the theory that machine learning may be most useful in tiny, embedded, offline processors. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

Using machine learning to pull Krazy Kat comics out of giant public domain newspaper archives

Joël Franusic became obsessed with Krazy Kat, but was frustrated by the limited availability and high cost of the books anthologizing the strip (some of which were going for $600 or more on Amazon); so he wrote a scraper that would pull down thumbnails from massive archives of pre-1923 newspapers and then identified 100 pages containing Krazy Kat strips to use as training data for a machine-learning model. Read the rest

Rage Inside the Machine: an insightful, brilliant critique of AI's computer science, sociology, philosophy and economics

Rob Smith is an eminent computer scientist and machine learning pioneer whose work on genetic algorithms has been influential in both industry and the academy; now, in his first book for a general audience, Rage Inside the Machine: The Prejudice of Algorithms, and How to Stop the Internet Making Bigots of Us All, Smith expertly draws connections between AI, neoliberalism, human bias, eugenics and far-right populism, and shows how the biases of computer science and the corporate paymasters have distorted our whole society. Read the rest

Analog computers could bring massive efficiency gains to machine learning

In The Next Generation of Deep Learning Hardware: Analog Computing *Sci-Hub mirror), a trio of IBM researchers discuss how new materials could allow them to build analog computers that vastly improved the energy/computing efficiency in training machine-learning networks. Read the rest

Independent evaluation of "aggression detection" microphones used in schools and hospitals finds them to be worse than useless

One of the griftiest corners of late-stage capitalism is the "public safety" industry, in which military contractors realize they can expand their market by peddling overpriced garbage to schools, cities, public transit systems, hospitals, etc -- which is how the "aggression detection" industry emerged, selling microphones whose "machine learning" backends are supposed to be able to detect "aggressive voices" (as well as gunshots) and alert cops or security guards. Read the rest

Finally, a useful application for augmented reality: rendering virtual kitchen roaches

Laanlabs's showreel for 6d.ai meshing technology is an augmented reality demo in which virtual cockroaches crawl all over a very real kitchen. It's the best use of augmented reality I've ever seen. (via Beyond the Beyond) Read the rest

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