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Inside AI (Nov 26th, 2019)

1. Author Albert Fox Cahn took part in a New York City task force that formed to analyze the impact of AI on government and citizens, but says that the process went "horribly wrong." In an article for Fast Company, Cahn writes that the members of the New York City Automated Decision Systems (ADS) Task Force - who included Meredith Whittaker of AI Now and Solon Barocase of Cornell Tech and Microsoft Research - were supposed to decide what roles AI should play and how to safeguard citizens from issues like poorly designed automated decision systems. At first, he says, the task force looked promising, but 18 months into the project their optimism "gave way to a fatalistic belief that we may not be able to tackle a problem this big after all." One problem was that city officials failed to provide data and information about what automated decision systems they use, according to Cahn. - FAST COMPANY

2. The AI startup Dessa created deepfake software that makes people look and sound like podcaster Joe Rogan. As Futurism notes, the tool isn't perfect, as "tiny errors appear as the person having his face replaced moves his head around." In a related (but opposing) effort, the company has released new algorithmic tools that it trained to detect deepfakes and synthesized videos, according to a blog post. - FUTURISM

3. The use of facial recognition technology at a popular cafe in India has renewed calls from human rights advocates for greater government regulation and increased protection for privacy rights. Customers at the popular Indian chain Chaayos took to social media last week to complain about the cloud-supported technology they said captured images of them without their consent. In addition, the cafe provided the customers with no information on what the data would be used for, and no option to opt out. At a press conference Monday, Joanne D’Cunha, associate counsel at the digital rights group Internet Freedom Foundation, said that without legal safeguards, facial recognition can lead to profiling. A statement from Chaayos said the technology was being tested in select cafes and was aimed at reducing purchase times for customers. Moreover, the data was encrypted, would not be shared, and customers could choose to opt out. - REUTERS

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Cloud.

4. MediaTek's new Dimensity 1000 system-on-chip will include an AI processing unit. The APU 3.0 is capable of reaching an ETH Zurich AI Benchmark score of 55,828, which is more than twice the performance of its previous APU, according to the company. The chip reportedly helps with face detection, camera focus, exposure, noise reduction, white balance, and multi-frame video HDR capability. MediaTek says Dimensity 1000 will be included in unspecified devices starting later this year and in early 2020. - VENTURE BEAT

5. The U.K. appears to be trailing other European countries in using AIs, like chatbots, for customer service, according to a new report from Freshworks. France, Germany, and the Netherlands are "far ahead" in using AI for virtual assistants, natural language processing, and facial recognition, according to research by the company, which sells cloud-based customer service software. According to the report, about 20 percent of U.K. companies surveyed had invested more than $320,000 in AI for customer service in the last year, compared to 46 percent in Germany, 41 percent in France, and 35 percent in the Netherlands. The research shows that British brands have a "deep distrust" in AI that leaves them "lagging behind Europe in their approach to customer service,” according to Simon Johnson, the U.K. General Manager of Freshworks. - IT PRO PORTAL

6. Taipei-based Appier, which sells AI-powered marketing and ad tools, has raised $80 million in a Series D round, bringing its total funding to $162 million. The round was led by Insignia Venture Partners, HOPU-Arm Innovation Fund, TGVest Capital, Temasek’s Pavilion Capital, JAFCO Investment, and UMC Capital. Appier's software uses AI to track people's activities on retail websites and increase the chance that the customer actually completes a transaction (for example, by offering customized promotional offers). The company has declined to disclose its valuation. - VENTURE BEAT

7. A Polish philosopher argues that people will form stronger bonds with AIs to the point that they may marry them in the future. Maciej Musiał, a professor at the University of Adam Mickiewicz, who specializes in the bonds that humans form with machines, says people already get attached to gadgets - like their smartphones - and will one day form strong emotional partnerships with robots. In his book "Enchanting Robots: Intimacy, Magic, and Technology," Musiał said the boundary between what's virtual and real is becoming blurred. In the case of robots, which can already simulate feelings and awareness, they are "seen as not significantly different from relationships with people," he writes. - EXPRESS

8. Plus.ai's autonomous tractor-trailer finished its first freight run across the U.S. The autonomous truck traveled mostly in autonomous mode across 2,800 miles from California to Pennsylvania, which it achieved in less than three days. The truck uses Plus.ai's driving system, which has multimodel sensor fusion, visual algorithms, and simultaneous location and mapping. Shawn Kerrigan, COO and co-founder of Plus.ai, said advances in the autonomous technology will make these fast cross-country runs "the norm in the future." - FLEET OWNER

9. Amazon says it will soon roll out custom labels for Rekognition, which helps users train machine learning models to learn objects when data sets are limited. Rather than requiring hundreds or thousands of images, Amazon says it new Rekognition Custom Labels can learn to identify an object work with as few as 10 images. An example might be training models to detect specific items in parts of an engine, which is a specific use case. The feature is scheduled to go live next week during AWS re:Invent, Amazon's customer conference. - TECHCRUNCH

10. The retail health clinic CarePortMD will begin using the AI system IDx-DR, which screens patients for diabetic retinopathy. The system, which can replace ophthalmologists in diagnosing patients, will also be used at health clinics inside Albertsons grocery stores. - MEDSCAPE

Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Orange County. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has written for USA Today, Get Out magazine and other publications. Follow her tweets about breaking news and other topics in southern California here.

Editor: Kim Lyons (Pittsburgh-based journalist and managing editor at Inside).

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