Mind Matters Natural and Artificial Intelligence News and Analysis

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Face recognition and personal identification technologies in street surveillance cameras, law enforcement control.

Canada Orders Facial Recognition App to Cease and Desist

Your face is likely already stored in this app's database

In February, Canada released the findings of a year-long investigation into the US-based facial recognition app, Clearview AI. The investigation declared Clearview’s actions illegal within Canada and ordered the company to cease operations within the country and to remove all Canadian citizens from its database. “What Clearview does is mass surveillance, and it is illegal,” said Canadian Privacy Commissioner Daniel Therrien. So what is Clearview AI? And why has it raised the ire of our neighbors to the North? Clearview AI, Inc. Clearview AI is a facial recognition company marketed primarily to law enforcement agencies. It boasts a database of over 3 billion facial images “scraped” from public sources online such as news articles and social media sites. In other…

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red vs orange

Parler vs. Amazon: Amazon Strikes Back!

Amazon is trying to avoid a state lawsuit through a hardball legal maneuver
Parler, an alternative social networking site, has been in a fierce legal battle with AWS/Amazon since it was removed from Amazon's platforms on January 10. Read More ›
Heritage-Building
Heritage Building

Influential Think Tank Declines Big Tech Donations

The Heritage Foundation declined six-figure donations from Big Tech companies Facebook and Google in 2020, citing repeated censorship of conservative views

News website Axios obtained letters signed by Heritage Foundation‘s departing President Kay Coles James (pictured), addressed to the CEOs of both Facebook and Google in October 2020, explaining why Heritage felt compelled to decline the six-figure contributions from the companies. “We cannot in good conscience take money from a company that repeatedly, and blatantly, suppresses conservative speech on your platforms,” reads the letter to Google CEO Sundar Pichai.  A similar statement is made in the letter to Facebook CEO Mark Zuckerberg.  Heritage declined $225,000 from Google, and returned $150,000 that came from Facebook. The Heritage Foundation made several accusations against the companies in its letters, including: that Facebook suppressed their reach by blocking referral traffic; that Facebook targeted Heritage with third-party fact-checkers; and that Google…

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Hand holding smartphone with media icons and symbol

Arizona Fights Back Against Big Tech App Store Monopoly

North Dakota’s anti-monopoly legislation was defeated but Arizona’s passed

Big tech, flexing political muscles, is starting to get pushback at the state level. Political analyst Matt Stoller tells us a tale of two states: A loser and a winner: Two weeks ago, Apple and Google managed to defeat a major bill in North Dakota to force competition in app stores. This week, the Arizona House of Representatives defied the tech giants and passed the very same bill… Matt Stoller, “Apple Threatens North Dakota, Suffers Crushing Loss in Arizona: “A Lot of It is Just Fear”” at Substack Even sovereign states like Australia have felt the heat from pushing back against the likes of Facebook. Facebook blocked access to the Australian government’s Facebook pages during the forest fire season, due…

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Bangkok, Thailand 25 AUG 2020. Men hand using digital tablet for search information on Google.  Wireless Smartphone technology with intelligence search engine.

Another AI Ethics Head at Google Gets Fired Over Diversity Issues

The AI ethics team and Google management may have very different ideas about what “ethics” means

On February 19, Google fired Margaret Mitchell, the AI ethics co-lead at Google Brain. Mitchell’s co-leading colleague, Timnit Gebru, had been fired in December, amid controversy. Both women were critical of Google’s diversity hiring record during the two years they worked together. The flashpoint in Mitchell’s case, for which she had been temporarily suspended earlier, hinged on claims of unauthorized use of files: In a statement, a Google spokesperson said Mitchell had shared “confidential business-sensitive documents and private data of other employees” outside the company. After Mitchell’s suspension last month, Google said activity in her account had triggered a security system. A source familiar with Mitchell’s suspension said she had been using a script to search her email for material…

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newspaper on brown wooden table

Facebook Unfriends Australia, Blacks Out Critical News

It started as a trade dispute but the growing power of Big Social Media to impose news blackouts threatens freedom of information, even safety

Last week, in a business dispute with the government of Australia, Facebook wiped news from Australia from its 2.6 billion users’ feeds. Michael Cook (pictured), editor of Australia-based MercatorNet, explains what that meant: So when you checked your Facebook feed on February 18, you didn’t see anything from The Australian, The Guardian, the Sydney Morning Herald, the Herald Sun, Daily Telegraph or, initially, the Bureau of Meteorology, Western Australia’s Department of Fire and Emergency Services, Western Sydney Health, South Australia Health, various state health services and some state Governments. This is in the middle of the fire season and a Covid-19 pandemic, for which many people rely on Facebook for updates. You also didn’t see anything from MercatorNet or BioEdge,…

Seattle, Washington - November 22, 2019: General view of Amazon office building in Seattle, Washington

Little-Known Civil Rights Law Could Bring Big Tech to Its Knees

Many tech giants have considerable assets and many employees in Seattle's jurisdiction

SEATTLE—As state and federal lawmakers consider drafting new legislation to counter big tech censorship of dissenting political voices, few seem to realize that an anti-discrimination law already on the books could spell big trouble for big tech companies that engage in political censorship.  Ironically, the law was enacted by one of the most politically progressive cities in the country: Seattle.  Unlike most political jurisdictions in the United States, Seattle expressly forbids discrimination on the basis of “political ideology.” Seattle defines political ideology expansively as any idea or belief, or coordinated body of ideas or beliefs, relating to the purpose, conduct, organization, function or basis of government and related institutions and activities, whether or not characteristic of any political party or group. This…

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SEO symbol  on the keyboard of a latop, 3d rendering,conceptual image. online  google and search concepts.

Why Are 38 American States Suing Google?

Better question: What search engine results do you NEVER see?

The current lawsuit was announced by Colorado’s Attorney General Phil Weiser but 38 states are signatories. The big issue is alleged suppression of competition. First, a bit of background: This is not the first big time lawsuit. That one would be from the U.S. Department of Justice in October: In October, the U.S. Department of Justice filed a lawsuit against Google, owned by Alphabet, for violating antitrust laws and actively enabling a monopoly in search engines and search advertising. The announcement followed a year’s worth of investigation by prosecutors, who “have spoken with Google’s rivals in technology and media, collecting information and documents that could be used to build a case.” The suit focuses on the tech giant’s illegal actions…

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Bangkok, Thailand 25 AUG 2020. Men hand using digital tablet for search information on Google.  Wireless Smartphone technology with intelligence search engine.

Google’s Leading AI Ethics Researcher Fired, Amid Controversy

Her research team targeted Google’s “cash cow”: advertising

Timnit Gebru, a leading AI ethics researcher, was fired from Google early this month under circumstances that have raised suspicions across the industry: On December 2, the AI research community was shocked to learn that Timnit Gebru had been fired from her post at Google. Gebru, one of the leading voices in responsible AI research, is known among other things for coauthoring groundbreaking work that revealed the discriminatory nature of facial recognition, cofounding the Black in AI affinity group, and relentlessly advocating for diversity in the tech industry. But on Wednesday evening, she announced on Twitter that she had been terminated from her position as Google’s ethical AI co-lead. “Apparently my manager’s manager sent an email [to] my direct reports…

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Concept of a futuristic quantum data center, supercomputer running with physical waves

Why Google’s “Quantum Supremacy” Isn’t Changing Much—Not Yet

Quantum computing was suggested by physicist Richard Feynman in 1982; the supremacy battles are quite recent

In last week’s podcast, “Enrique Blair on quantum computing,” Walter Bradley Center director Robert J. Marks talks with fellow computer engineer Enrique Blair about why quantum mechanics is so strange but important to our future. One thing they discussed was Google’s claim to quantum supremacy. What does it mean? Does it matter? https://episodes.castos.com/mindmatters/Mind-Matters-110-Enrique-Blair.mp3 The discussion of quantum supremacy begins at approximately 47:55. The Show Notes and transcript follow. Excerpts from the transcript: Robert J. Marks (pictured): Google recently announced they had achieved quantum supremacy. What is quantum supremacy, and how does that relate to the quantum computer and the other computers that we use today? Enrique Blair: It’s a pretty interesting buzzword. Maybe the first thing to mention is what…

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Quantum Wave

Bingecast: Enrique Blair on Quantum Computing

What is quantum mechanics? What can quantum computers do that classical computers can’t? Has Google achieved quantum supremacy? Robert J. Marks discusses the weird world of quantum mechanics with Dr. Enrique Blair. Show Notes 00:54 | Introducing Dr. Enrique Blair, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University 03:08 | The history of quantum mechanics 13:16 | Quantum…

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iron chain and castle on the silk national flag of Hong Kong with beautiful folds, the concept of a ban on tourism, political repression, crime, violation of the rights and freedoms of citizens

Hong Kong: Tech Companies Face Serious Ethical Decisions

As Hong Kong is transformed into a police state, Western companies, faced with demands for snitching on users, are rethinking cozy relationships with China

The semi-autonomous region of Hong Kong is no longer semi-autonomous, at least in practice. The Chinese Communist Party (CCP), circumventing Hong Kong’s parliament and courts, passed the Hong Kong National Security Law on June 30 that effectively abolishes the “one country, two systems” regime outlined in the Sino-British Joint Declaration. The law was passed one day before the anniversary of the handover of Hong Kong to China (July 1, 1997), in time to quash any pro-democracy candidates who would likely win in the September elections. Although the CCP justifies its moves from the Hong Kong Basic Law and claims that Hong Kong will maintain autonomy, in practice, it has already arrested dissidents and formed a secretive agency called the Office…

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Young woman using smart phone,Social media concept.

Is Contact Tracing a Simple Answer to COVID Lockdowns?

An engineering professor at the University of Austin asks us to look at the costs and benefits

The conventional science fiction fear of a superintelligent AI taking over the planet and ridding it of pesky humans distracts our attention from a much more realistic threat: Artificial intelligence (AI) makes both government and corporate surveillance much easier, cheaper, and more useful—whether it is in average citizens’ interests or not. If we are lucky, this will be the decade when we address the implications of that fact.

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Enrique Blair on the Future of Quantum Computing

Google has claimed quantum supremacy. What does that mean? What is the future of quantum computing? Robert J. Marks discusses quantum communication, supremacy, and computing with Dr. Enrique Blair. Show Notes 00:49 | Introducing Dr. Enrique Blair, a professor of electrical and computer engineering at Baylor University 01:14 | Problems with quantum computing 01:54 | What is quantum supremacy? 03:06…

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2019 AI Hype Countdown #3: Quantum Supremacy? Less Supreme Than It Sounded

It’s possible that Google’s result can be generalized to more useful scenarios than the test case though it isn't immediately obvious how

What Google really achieved was increased stability in its quantum computing platform—keeping qubits stable has been a hard problem in quantum computing for a long time. That was certainly a step forward, but advertising it as “quantum supremacy” was certainly a classic exercise in hype.

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Man trying to whistle

Google’s Secret Health Data Grab: The Whistleblower Talks

This is the fourth whistleblower in the last eighteen months

“The decision came to me slowly, creeping on me through my day-to-day work,” we are told, until it came down to “how could I say nothing?”

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Medical Research Scientist Typing Information Obtained from New Experimental Drug Trial. She Works in a Bright and Modern Laboratory.

The Nightingale Sings — About Your Health Data

The skinny from Google’s health care data grab: Your privacy may not be anywhere near as well protected as you might think

The biggest question coming into focus is whether traditional patient confidentiality protection really works in the age of the internet. As to what changes are needed and who will sponsor them, both US Sen. Amy Klobuchar and US Sen. Josh Hawley, on opposite sides of the aisle, are watching the file.

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Quantum computer system. Internet connection. Net system. Modern big data. Magic code. .Techno pattern. Intersect grid. Symmetry lines. Energy blocks. Kaleidoscopic shape. AI. Sci-fi

Google vs. IBM?: Quantum Supremacy Isn’t the Big Fix Anyway

If human thought is a halting oracle, then even quantum computing will not allow us to replicate human intelligence

Google’s quantum supremacy claim is certainly fascinating and controversial, but even if true, it ultimately only amounts to an incremental and even inconsequential improvement in the state of AI and ML, due to the still-unmet need for a halting oracle.

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Is Ray Kurzweil’s Singularity Now Nearer — or Impossible?

In response to Kurzweil’s talk at the COSM Technology Summit, panelists noted that AI achievements are revolutionary in size but limited by their nature in scope

George Montañez, Assistant Professor of Computer Science at Harvey Mudd College, took issue with Kurzweil’s claim that AlphaGoZero needed no instructions to beat humans at the game of Go: “For a system like this to work, a human must define the incentive structure, also encoding the assumptions.” The sheer power of a computing system does not cause it to do anything at all.

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Ray Kurzweil presenting via teleconference at COSM 2019

Tech pioneer Ray Kurzweil: We Will Merge with Computers by 2045

For computers, “Even the very best human is just another notch to pass,” he told the COSM Technology Summit

Advocates point to the success of Kurzweil’s past predictions as evidence that his Singularity is indeed Near, as his 2005 book predicts or Nearer, as his forthcoming one (June 2020) does. But questions bubbled to the surface.

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