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Showing posts from July, 2017

For Facebook, erasing hate speech proves a daunting challenge

For Facebook, erasing hate speech proves a daunting challenge
Two weeks after Donald Trump won the presidency, Zahra Billoo, executive director of the Council on American-Islamic Relations office for the San Francisco Bay area, posted to Facebook a line from a handwritten letter mailed to a San Jose mosque: “He’s going to do to you Muslims what Hitler did to the Jews.” 
By Tracy Jan and Elizabeth Dwoskin July 31 at 6:02 PM
Francie Latour was picking out produce in a suburban Boston grocery store when a white man leaned toward her two young sons and, just loudly enough for the boys to hear, unleashed a profanity-laced racist epithet.
Reeling, Latour, who is black, turned to Facebook to vent, in a post that was explicit about the hateful words hurled at her 8 and 12-year-olds on a Sunday evening in July.
“I couldn’t tolerate just sitting with it and being silent,” Latour said in an interview. “I felt like I was going to jump out of my skin, like my kids’ innocence was stolen in the bl…

Google’s new program to track shoppers sparks a federal privacy complaint

Google’s new program to track shoppers sparks a federal privacy complaint
By Elizabeth Dwoskin, Craig Timberg July 30, 2017 at 9:00 PM
A prominent privacy rights watchdog is asking the Federal Trade Commission to investigate a new Google advertising program that ties consumers’ online behavior to their purchases in brick-and-mortar stores.
The legal complaint from the Electronic Privacy Information Center, to be filed with the FTC on Monday, alleges that Google is newly gaining access to a trove of highly sensitive information -- the credit and debit card purchase records of the majority of U.S. consumers -- without revealing how they got the information or giving consumers meaningful ways to opt out. Moreover, the group claims that the search giant is relying on a secretive technical method to protect the data -- a method that should be audited by outsiders and is likely vulnerable to hacks or other data breaches.
“Google is seeking to extend its dominance from the online world to t…

Facebook working on advanced facial recognition wants access to your posted pictures

Saving face: Facebook wants access without limits
Social network giant lobbies to prevent state limits on facial recognition
By Jared Bennettemail 6 hours, 55 minutes ago Updated: 6 hours, 52 minutes ago
Facebook is working on advanced facial recognition technology to identify users by creating digital faceprints. The company has begun lobbying state legislatures feverishly to protect its investments in the technology.
When Chicago resident Carlo Licata joined Facebook in 2009, he did what the 390 million other users of the world’s largest social network had already done: He posted photos of himself and friends, tagging the images with names.
But what Licata, now 34, didn’t know was that every time he was tagged, Facebook stored his digitized face in its growing database.
Angered this was done without his knowledge, Licata sued Facebook in 2015 as part of a class action lawsuit filed in Illinois state court accusing the company of violating a one-of-a-kind Illinois law that prohibit…

Your Banker Is Always In: Sweden Rolls Out the AI Robots

Your Banker Is Always In: Sweden Rolls Out the Robots
Sweden’s biggest banks are pioneering new AI technology Chatbots are starting with less complex customer services
By Hanna Hoikkala  and Niklas Magnusson July 30, 2017, 3:00 AM PDT July 31, 2017, 4:17 AM PDT
Aida is the perfect employee: always courteous, always learning and, as she says, “always at work, 24/7, 365 days a year.”
Aida, of course, is not a person but a virtual customer-service representative that SEB AB, one of Sweden’s biggest banks, is rolling out. The goal is to give the actual humans more time to engage in more complex tasks.
After blazing a trail in online and digital banking, Sweden’s financial industry is now emerging as a pioneer in the use of artificial intelligence. Besides Aida at SEB, there’s Nova, which is a chatbot Nordea Bank AB is introducing at its life and pensions unit in Norway. Swedbank AB is adding to the skills of its virtual assistant, Nina. All three are designed to sound like women, based o…

DeepMind creates 'imaginative' AI that can create and plan

DeepMind creates 'imaginative' AI that can create and plan
BY JAMES WALKER JUL 27, 2017
Google-owned DeepMind has announced an AI agent that is capable of "imagining" things and planning how to complete future tasks. The development brings fully autonomous AI a step closer by addressing one of the major shortcomings of current systems.
Computers are excellent problem solvers that can perform calculations at rates far in excess of the human brain. However, humans retain the upper hand in creativity and imagination. We can reason with ourselves, develop plans and think of abstract concepts that can't be defined.
In a blog post this week, DeepMind said it has been able to develop an AI that can "imagine" and "reason about" the future. The company added it has seen "tremendous results" with the system by giving AI agents the ability to interpret their internal simulations.
Handing the agent introspection abilities gives it the ability …

DeepMind founder thinks AI will need to build on neuroscience

DeepMind founder thinks AI will need to build on neuroscience
BY JAMES WALKER JUL 21, 2017
A leading artificial intelligence expert has said he believes research in the field must start to build on existing areas of neuroscience. Describing the two areas as having a "long and intertwined history," he said AI will need to learn human qualities.
Demis Hassabis founded the artificial intelligence startup firm DeepMind. The business was sold to Google for $650 million in 2014. This week, Hassabis published a research paper in which he explores the connection between AI and neuroscience. His view is that the two fields are already aligned but closer work is required to continue AI's development.
Most modern neural networks are predominantly focused on problems that are solved by mathematical solutions. Areas such as speech recognition and image identification are some of the most promising areas of artificial intelligence. These rely on mathematical algorithms which, while …

Facebook close to building chat bots with true negotiation skills

Facebook close to building chat bots with true negotiation skills
BY JAMES WALKER JUN 15, 2017
Facebook is getting closer to building chatbots that are capable of planning conversations and negotiating with humans in a realistic way. By training the bots to mimic human responses, Facebook claims they can then make decisions on their own.
The company posted details of the project in a recent publicly available research paper. As Recode reports, the company presented chatbots with conversations between real people in which the participants negotiated to come to a conclusion. After "learning" how to negotiate by studying their human teachers, the bots were tested to see if they had mastered the skill.
Facebook tasked the chatbots with working with a "partner" to divide up several objects, each of which was correlated to a different numerical points value. The bots had to negotiate to work out the best way to divide the objects and accumulate the highest possible numb…

Researchers @ Facebook shut down AI that invented its own language

Researchers shut down AI that invented its own language
BY JAMES WALKER JUL 21, 2017
An artificial intelligence system being developed at Facebook has created its own language. It developed a system of code words to make communication more efficient. Researchers shut the system down when they realized the AI was no longer using English.
The observations made at Facebook are the latest in a long line of similar cases. In each instance, an AI being monitored by humans has diverged from its training in English to develop its own language. The resulting phrases appear to be nonsensical gibberish to humans but contain semantic meaning when interpreted by AI "agents."
Negotiating in a new language
As Fast Co. Design reports, Facebook's researchers recently noticed its new AI had given up on English. The advanced system is capable of negotiating with other AI agents so it can come to conclusions on how to proceed. The agents began to communicate using phrases that seem unintel…

Torc Autonomous car completes 4,300-mile cross-country trip...

Car drove 4,300-plus miles autonomously on cross-country trip, ending at Virginia's Executive Mansion
By KATHRYN E. YOUNG Richmond Times-Dispatch  Jul 26, 2017
An autonomous Lexus RX hybrid completed its 5,300-plus mile, round-trip cross-country journey at Virginia’s Executive Mansion on Wednesday afternoon.
For the bulk of the trip, the vehicle drove more than 4,300 miles autonomously.
The self-driving vehicle, programmed by Blacksburg-based Torc Robotics, started its journey July 7 in Washington, D.C., headed west to Seattle, returned east to Richmond and was greeted by Gov. Terry McAuliffe in Capitol Square.
“That was something,” McAuliffe said as he got out of the vehicle after a test ride.
“This (autonomous driving) technology is coming, and we want to be in front of it here in Virginia. We want to be the leader,” McAuliffe said.
One of the benefits of driving cross-country was testing the car in a variety of road and weather conditions, the company said.
Three certified sa…

Robot cracks open safe live on Def Con's stage

Robot cracks open safe live on Def Con's stage
By Dave Lee July 28, 2017
Using a cheap robot, a team of hackers has cracked open a leading-brand combination safe, live on stage in Las Vegas.
The team from SparkFun Electronics was able to open a SentrySafe safe in around 30 minutes.
The robot is able to reduce the number of possible combinations from one million to just 1,000, before quickly and automatically trying the remaining combinations until it breaks in.
After the robot discovered the combination was 51.36.93, the safe popped open - to rapturous applause from the audience of several hundred hackers.
SparkFun’s Nathan Siedle told the BBC: "That was one of the scariest things we’ve done. Lots of things can go wrong, and this was a very big audience.
"We’re really happy it opened up.”
A spokeswoman for SentrySafe could not be reached on Friday.
But speaking to Wired magazine earlier this month, when the team demonstrated its method on a smaller safe, a spokeswoman f…

Europe battles Google News over 'snippet tax' proposal

Europe battles Google News over 'snippet tax' proposal
EU plans to make Google pay for the news it displays are making the internet giant furious
By Céline LE PRIOUX July 29, 2017
Brussels (AFP) - A major battle is brewing in Brussels over an EU reform plan that would force internet aggregators such as Google News to pay newspapers for displaying snippets of their articles online.
Google is furious at the reform idea, but powerful publishers, including Axel Springer in Germany or Rupert Murdoch's Newscorp in the UK, affirm that a tax is the only hope to save a news industry starving for revenue.
The fight, which will play out for the rest of the year, is the latest row straining ties between Google and the European Union, which slapped the Silicon Valley giant with a 2.4 billion euro ($2.8 billion) fine over unfair competition in June.
The proliferation of free news on the internet has brought the newspaper industry to its knees, with many consumers unwilling to pay for o…

Apple Removes Apps From China Store That Help Internet Users Evade Censorship

Apple Removes Apps From China Store That Help Internet Users Evade Censorship
By PAUL MOZUR JULY 29, 2017 HONG KONG — China appears to have received help on Saturday from an unlikely source in its fight against tools that help users evade its Great Firewall of internet censorship: Apple.
Software made by foreign companies to help users skirt the country’s system of internet filters has vanished from Apple’s app store on the mainland.
One company, ExpressVPN, posted a letter it had received from Apple saying that its app had been taken down “because it includes content that is illegal in China.”
Another tweeted from its official account that its app had been removed.
A search on Saturday showed that a number of the most popular foreign virtual-private networks, also known as VPNs, which give users access to the unfiltered internet in China, were no longer accessible on the company’s app store there.
ExpressVPN wrote in its blog that the removal was “surprising and unfortunate.”
It add…