Happy Sunday and welcome to the weekend commentary edition of InsideAI. I'm Rob May, and every Sunday I try to write something about what I've learned investing in 70+ startups, mostly AI companies, and watching their challenges, struggles, and successes. My goal is to highlight something that makes you think.
Let's get started by reviewing the most popular articles of the past week:
Digital rights activists in Washington D.C. scanned the faces of thousands of people with Amazon’s Rekognition software on Thursday to demonstrate the harmful consequences of permitting facial recognition surveillance. The activists navigated the nation's capital in white jumpsuits with cell phones strapped to their heads to scan people they encountered outside the halls of Congress and inside the city’s busiest metro stations. As they collected their data, digital rights group Fight for the Future cross-checked the scanned faces with a database of journalists, lobbyists and members of Congress. The unique form of protest was intended to show these groups of people how this technology could affect them directly. - VICE
John Carmack, the CTO of Facebook’s VR subsidiary Oculus, is stepping down from the full-time position to focus on artificial general intelligence, also known as strong AI. In a Facebook post, Carmack said he will work from home on his AI efforts but stay on as a consulting CTO at Oculus VR. As far as AI, he said, "I think it is possible, enormously valuable, and that I have a non-negligible chance of making a difference there, so by a Pascal’s Mugging sort of logic, I should be working on it." Strong AI is considered the more "science fiction" version of AI, with a goal of teaching machines to exhibit human-level intelligence. - TECHCRUNCH
Canadian authorities have denied visas to 24 prominent AI experts from Africa and South America, preventing them from attending an industry conference in Vancouver. Organizers of next month's Neural Information Processing Systems conference are working to have the denials overturned, according to Katherine Heller, a conference co-chair. "It is very significant for the field of AI that all voices be heard," she said. The researchers, some of whom already booked flights, were scheduled to attend a Black in AI workshop at the conference. The situation has triggered an outcry from industry experts, who argued that such denials are becoming a systemic problem in Canada and prevent diversity in the field. - CNN
The computational power required to train AI is rising seven times faster than previous rates, according to an updated analysis by OpenAI. The research lab added new data to its previous 2018 analysis, which found that the power used to train large AI models doubled every 3.4 months since 2012. New data shows that the present doubling time is more than seven times the rate that occurred from 1959 to 2012, when the amount of needed power doubled every two years, which is in accordance with Moore’s Law. - MIT TECH REVIEW