Inside AI - December 3rd, 2019

Inside AI (Dec 3rd, 2019)

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1. China has implemented a new policy that requires consumers to have their faces scanned when registering phone numbers or purchasing SIM cards. The guidelines, which were first issued in September, took effect on Sunday and require telecom companies to deploy AI to check the identities of people registering SIM cards. According to the country's Ministry of Industry and Information Technology, the goal is to link consumer identities to their phones so that they can’t transfer SIM cards. However, critics have argued that the facial recognition technology is quickly becoming an invasive form of surveillance and doesn't actually improve safety. "It enables governments to engage in invasive and ubiquitous monitoring of an entire population," says Evan Greer, the deputy director of the digital rights advocacy group Fight for the Future. - THE GUARDIAN

2. The Australian state of New South Wales is using an AI-based camera system to snag drivers who are using their cell phones illegally. A series of cameras placed near roadways captures photos, which are fed into an AI system that automatically determines if a driver is talking on their cell phone using their hands. (In New South Wales, drivers can only use their mobile phones in hands-free mode). Drivers with both hands on the wheel are automatically cleared. According to the state, photos that pass are deleted within 48 hours, and images that the AI singles out for suspected mobile phone use are passed along to a human checker to be verified. The state will send out warning letters for the next three months before fining people AU $344 (U.S. $235). - FUTURISM

3. Facebook's PR team developed an AI-based chatbot to help employees answer controversial questions about the company during the holidays, The New York Times reports. The tool, called “Liam Bot" for reasons not explained by the company, became available to Facebook employees just before Thanksgiving, ostensibly to help them deflect criticism from family members during the holidays. If a person asks about hate speech on the platform, for example, the bot instructs the employee to say that Facebook "has hired more moderators to police its content" and "is working on AI to spot hate speech." The company first started testing the chatbot this spring after training it to answer questions about topics like free speech, moderation, and election meddling. - NYTIMES

4. China's new deepfake law bears similarities to legislation signed by California's governor last month. Starting January 1, it will be illegal in China to pass off AI-created media as legitimate, unless it's properly disclosed as being created with AI or VR technology. The new law allows the Cyberspace Administration of China to prosecute both the people who create the deepfakes and the video platforms that host them. China's policy, though broader, mirrors California's AB 730, which criminalizes the use of Ai-manufactured fakes in political campaign promotions and ads, according to The Verge. On a larger scale, the U.S. House Intelligence Committee recently held a hearing about how to address deepfakes and their potential to influence elections, which could result in a federal policy. - THE VERGE

5. As many as 9 percent of digital orders made during this year's Cyber Week came from AI-powered recommendations, new figures from Salesforce reveals. Retail sales appear to be experiencing a boost as AI continues to access more data to improve its product suggestions for consumers. On Thanksgiving and Black Friday, shoppers who bought products recommended to them by an AI bought 12 percent more units per transaction, on average, than people who didn't buy from the AI's suggestions, the Salesforce numbers show. - FORBES

6. A new AI technique can automatically measure coronary artery calcium - a measure of plaque in the arteries - in patients' chest CT images. A research team based in Boston trained a deep learning system using cardiac and chest CTs that were manually measured and tested the resulting system on CT scans of thousands of heavy smokers. The AI's coronary artery calcium scores - a common marker of heart disease in patients  - were similar to the scores developed by human readers, according to researchers. The findings could help doctors better prescribe cholesterol-lowering preventive medications. - SCIENCE DAILY

7. Alibaba Cloud has released the source codes of the company’s machine-learning platform used for this year’s 11/11 worldwide shopping festival. The platform, dubbed "Alink," is now available to developers on GitHub. Alink offers a collection of algorithms that helps process data for machine-learning tasks, such as customer services and product recommendations. Developers can now access Alink’s source codes on GitHub to build their own software for e-commerce transactions. - CLOUD COMPUTING NEWS

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Cloud.

8. Only 11 percent of risk managers say they are capable of assessing the risks associated with AI, according to a newly published survey from Accenture. The poll interviewed 683 risk managers in banking, capital markets, and insurance who live in nine countries. The results support the idea that risk managers - particularly those in financial services - aren't generally aware yet of the unintended consequences of AI, which hasn't been fully adopted in the industry on a large scale, according to The Wall Street Journal. - WSJ

9. A new infographic lists out 13 ways AI will help people live longer. These include sensors installed in homes that automatically test people's breath for early signs of cancer, as well as an artifiical pancreas that would consistently measure blood glucose and deliver insulin based on the readings. - GENETIC LITERACY PROJECT

10. Should tech companies should be held responsible for jobs they eliminate through automation and innovation? Vox recently posed the question to five of the 2020 Democratic presidential candidates, who had this to say:

Bernie Sanders: "[I] will work to prevent workers from being displaced by automation in the first place. We will end tax breaks that encourage companies to replace American workers with robots."

Elizabeth Warren: "We need to pass my Accountable Capitalism Act. Among other things, it will require large companies to let workers elect board members. This will give workers more control over corporate decisions, including on introducing new technology and how affected workers are compensated."

Pete Buttigieg: "As technological innovation continues to accelerate, the impacts may be broader and swifter than at other points in history. As a result, we must proactively adopt policies that not only ensure that America leads in the creation of new jobs and industries but that also make sure change works for all of us — not just a few."

Tom Steyer: "The American economy should reward innovation, ingenuity, and productivity. If our country, however, wants to generate sustained economic growth, we also have to provide opportunity, and ensure the health and welfare of the American worker."

Michael Bennet: "Companies have a responsibility to consider how their innovations will affect the workforce and society more broadly, and wherever possible, invest in training existing and future employees for jobs that will be available well into the future. At the same time, government needs to develop sensible, forward-thinking policy to harness innovations so that they lead to more jobs with better wages and working conditions." - VOX

Written and curated by Beth Duckett in Scottsdale, Arizona. Beth is a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who has published a book about the solar industry and frequently writes about hobby and commercial drones. You can follow her tweets about breaking news in artificial intelligence here.

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

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