Inside AI - January 24th, 2019

Inside AI (Jan 24th, 2019)

AI job disruption / Facial recognition bias / AI patents harder to get

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1. A quarter of U.S. jobs will be disrupted as AI automates existing work, according to a report by the Brookings Institution. The report, published Thursday, said that 36 million workers have jobs that could be mostly automated by current technology — cooks, food servers, truck drivers, and office workers are among the jobs most likely to be affected. Mark Muro, the lead author of the report, said that the timeline for the shift could be years or decades, but that automation typically happens during an economic downturn. — FORTUNE

2. MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini, an advocate for making facial recognition technology inclusive and unbiased, made a presentation at the World Economic Forum (WEF) Annual Meeting in Davos, Switzerland. Buolamwini and her colleagues at MIT assessed facial recognition software from Microsoft, Face++, and IBM, and found that they were all less accurate at identifying dark-skinned faces, especially female faces. Buolamwini founded the Algorithmic Justice League, and its Safe Face Pledge initiative, to compel organizations to eliminate bias in facial recognition systems and use the technology ethically. — BUSINESS INSIDER

3. Researchers at ETH Zurich developed an AI system to teach a robot to recover after it falls. The model used deep reinforcement learning to train four neural networks in a simulated environment. The system was tested on "ANYmal," a four-legged, dog-sized robot with 12 degrees of freedom governing its movement. The recovery rate for the robot was better than 97 percent. Their research was published in the arXiv online repository. — VENTUREBEAT

4. The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office is making it more difficult to obtain AI patents. According to patent attorney Kate Gaudry, who analyzed pending application data from LexisNexis PatentAdvisor, about 90 percent of AI-related applications got initial rejection letters. Just 20 percent of applications received final approval. The patent office issued new guidance this month about how patent eligibility should be considered and is planning a Jan. 31 hearing about AI-related IP policy. — SOUTH CHINA MORNING POST

5. The technology behind Libratus, the AI bot that defeated human poker champions in 2017, has been contracted by the Pentagon for $10 million. Carnegie Mellon researchers Tuomas Sandholm and Noam Brown developed Libratus, a system that develops and refines a blueprint strategy in real time. Sandholm's new startup, Strategy Robot, redesigned the technology to be used for military strategy, planning, and simulations. The company holds a two-year contract with the Pentagon's Defense Innovation Unit. — OUTER PLACES

6. London's Heathrow Airport is trialing a new AI system for managing air traffic. The technology includes 20 high-definition cameras that feed footage into an AI system for recognizing and tracking aircrafts, and alerts air controllers when runways are clear. — THE TELEGRAPH

7. Data analytics and marketing firm Zeta Global acquired Silicon Valley AI company Temnos. Temnos has a language processing platform that extracts metadata from text-based media. The financial details of the deal were not disclosed, but Zeta will acquire several Temnos employees and AI patents. Temnos CEO Jim Bailey will join Zeta’s advisory board. — FORBES

8. closed an $8.5 million funding round. Sherpa makes a voice assistant that speaks in English and Spanish — it can handle nine Spanish dialects. The funding, which was led by Mundi Ventures, will be used to improve the company's NLP and predictive AI and to integrate the assistant to various device manufacturers. — VENTUREBEAT

9. An English soccer club, the Isthmian League Premier Division’s Wingate & Finchley FC, is using an AI system as its head coach. Green Shoot Labs devised the system — it uses data about rules, fitness/strengths of specific players and opponents, games, and real-time scores — to provide recommendations via a voice assistant. The coach will debut in a Feb. 9 game against Brighton’s Whitehawk. — SYFY

10. MIT researchers launched a new AI system for counting calories. The app is called Coco, and users simply say what they have eaten to log their meals. Data is held anonymously and the app is part of an ongoing MIT research project on speech understanding. — COCO NUTRITION

Written and curated by Deb Dion Kees, a writer, editor, and publisher based in Telluride, Colorado. Kees is a lover of science, technology, skiing, and adventure, and does her best work using a mobile hotspot to write from her Ford camper van office.

Editing team: Lon Harris (editor-in-chief at, game-master at Screen Junkies), Krystle Vermes (Breaking news editor at Inside, B2B marketing news reporter, host of the "All Day Paranormal" podcast), and Susmita Baral (editor at Inside, recent bylines in NatGeo, Teen Vogue, and Quartz. Runs the biggest mac and cheese account on Instagram).

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