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Inside AI (Dec 16th, 2019)

1. Petitions opposing the U.S. government's use of facial recognition were delivered to several members of Congress today. More than 75,000 people signed the petitions, which ask Congress to ban the technology outright, according to the internet rights group Fight for the Future behind the effort. Evan Greer, the group's deputy director, called it the largest single display of public opinion on the issue, saying that "people understand that this technology is dangerous when it works and when it doesn’t, and the only way to protect our privacy and our civil rights is to ban its use." Activists delivered the petitions to U.S. Reps. Carolyn Maloney (D-N.Y.) and Jim Jordan (R-Ohio) – chairwoman and ranking member of the House Committee on Oversight and Reform - as well as Sens. Chris Coons (D-Del.) and Mike Lee (R-Utah), who recently introduced a facial recognition bill that would limit its use in law enforcement. - THE DAILY DOT

2. Tech company Atrium Sports has acquired the sports analytics company Synergy Sports Technology, which counts Dallas Mavericks owner Mark Cuban as its biggest investor. A number of NBA franchises, MLB, college basketball and baseball clubs use Synergy's analytics tools, which use cameras to track down players' movements and turn that into data for coaches. Atrium Sports, which is backed by Los Angeles Dodgers owner Todd Boehly and others, sells a platform of data and advanced automated video production. The deal, which reportedly creates a company with a combined value of $100 million, includes an additional $60 million backed by Eldridge Industries, Elysian Park Ventures, Atrium executives, and Atrium and Synergy Sports shareholders. The funds will go toward expanding Atrium’s AI capabilities. - CNBC

3. Intel says it will acquire the Israel-based AI firm Habana Labs for $2 billion. Habana develops programmable deep learning accelerators. In June, it announced its Gaudi training chip that enables scaling to process large AI models. Navin Shenoy, executive vice president and general manager of the Data Platforms Group at Intel, said the acquisition will advance Intel's AI strategy and offerings for data centers, as well as "a standards-based programming environment to address evolving AI workloads.” Under the deal terms, Habana will stay on an independent business led by its current management team. - ENGADGET

4. Instagram's new AI warns users when their post captions may be potentially offensive. The AI automatically detects rude, hurtful, or abusive language based on posts that have previously been reported to the platform. Once it detects a post, the AI generates a notification encouraging the user to edit their caption (although they can still post as is). Instagram began using AI last year to filter out potentially offensive comments and cyberbullying in captions, via an algorithm known as DeepText, according to Forbes. It also uses AI and big data in its search function, personalized feeds, and targeted advertising. - VENTURE BEAT

5. Ars Technica's Timothy B. Lee created his own deepfake video, which imposes the face of Star Trek's Lieutenant Commander Data onto a video of Mark Zuckerberg testifying before Congress. Lee says his goal was to take a closer look at the technology, including investigating how hard it is to use. After working on the project for "a couple of weeks" – including almost a week to train his deepfake model –Lee produced a final video, which he says "doesn't quite capture the full details of Data's face." It cost him $552 to overall. You can read about each of the steps he took here. - ARS TECHNICA

6. Italy's main soccer league is developing facial recognition technology that it claims can identify fans accused of yelling racist chants. The league, Serie A, has a racism problem directed toward black players and recently unveiled a controversial campaign to try and combat the problem. In the meantime, Italian league officials are working on a facial recognition system that would be used to identify fans inside stadiums, Serie A CEO Luigi De Siervo said on Monday. He said that the league is "still awaiting authorization from privacy authorities," though it "should be able to get that with the help of the government.” - AP

7. German technology company Bosch is reportedly working on an in-car AI system that uses facial recognition to tell if drivers are distracted. A camera integrated into the steering wheel will be able to determine if drivers are falling asleep, looking down, or turning around to look toward the rear of the vehicle. The AI can alert the driver to take a specific action, including slowing down, pulling over, or facing forward. While other in-car systems can tell when drivers are distracted, Bosch says its solution is different because its image-processing algorithms can recognize a variety of scenarios. The feature could reach production in 2022. - DIGITAL TRENDS

8. Researchers in Florida used an AI model to find the best "recipe" for prototype solar cells made from materials known as perovskites. The material is being viewed as the next big thing in the solar industry, with the potential to coincide with or replace silicon. To optimize the material for flexibility, stability, efficiency, and cost, researchers from the University of Central Florida reviewed more than 2,000 peer-reviewed publications about perovskites and turned their findings into 300 data points, which were fed into the AI system. The AI analyzed the data to predict which perovskites "recipe" would work best for solar cells, as outlined in their report published in the Dec. 13 issue of the Advanced Energy Materials journal. - PHYS.ORG

9. Executives for IBM have announced that the company received a record 9,100 patents in 2018 — the last year for which figures are available— with more than 4,000 in areas such as artificial intelligence, cloud, and quantum computing. Company officials said it was the 26th consecutive year that IBM has led the U.S. corporate sector in the number of patents issued. Last year, IBM was granted a patent for Project Debater, its AI that can debate humans on complex topics (and managed to crack a few jokes during its recent debate on the topic of AI at Cambridge University). - DENTON DAILY

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Cloud.

10. IBM's Data Science Elite team – which was created last year to help companies roll out their AI models – plans to hire significantly more data scientists over the next year, according to leader Rob Thomas. “We hire them wherever we can, actually,” the IBM executive told VentureBeat. In the past year, the team known as AI SWAT has expanded from 30 data scientists to 100 and worked with 115 companies – including Lufthansa, Experian, and Sprint – on 130 AI models and products. As VentureBeat notes, the group doesn't charge a fee because IBM figures that it will make a profit when companies choose to pay for its products and services in the long term. - VENTURE BEAT

Written and curated by Beth Duckett, a former reporter for The Arizona Republic who wrote a book about the solar industry and frequently covers hobby and commercial drones. You can follow her tweets about artificial intelligence news here.

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