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Inside AI (Jan 20th, 2020)

1. Today, Alphabet CEO Sundar Pichai called for a balanced approach to regulating AI as Europe and the U.S. consider their own limits on the technology. Pichai, the new chief executive of Google's parent company, made the comments during a policy speech Monday in Brussels, Belgium. He told the audience that "there is no question" that AI technology such as facial recognition needs regulation, but the approach is most important and "international alignment" is needed between any rules adopted by the EU and the U.S. "History is full of examples of how technology’s virtues aren’t guaranteed, " Pichai said. The news comes after reporters leaked a proposal from the European Commission that seeks a three- to five-year ban on facial-recognition in public areas until more is known about the risks and methods of the technology. The paper also draws attention to the already-adopted General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), which it says could become the foundation upon which AI would be regulated. "We need a GDPR for AI as well," wrote @ELTIassociation on Twitter. Pichai also outlined more of his thoughts on AI regulation in an opinion piece published in Sunday's Financial Times. - WSJ

2. SenseTIme and academic researchers unveiled a method of editing target portrait footage by taking an audio sequence to synthesize photo-realistic videos. In an online report, the researchers described how the new method for creating deepfakes "is unique because it is highly dynamic." The researchers said they "factorize each target video frame into orthogonal parameter spaces, i.e., expression, geometry, and pose, via monocular 3D face reconstruction" and then use a recurrent network "to translate source audio into expression parameters that are primarily related to the audio content." VentureBeat called the results "impressive, albeit worrisome in light of recent developments involving deepfakes." You can find the GitHub project page here. - VENTUREBEAT

3. Berlin-based Scoutbee has raised $60 million, which it says will go toward new hires and the research and development efforts for its AI digital procurement platform. Atomico led the Series B round, with participation from Lakestar, Next47, and existing investors 42CAP, HV Holtzbrinck Ventures, and Toba Capital. Scoutbee’s system uses the proprietary AI engine Artemis to help connect the right purchasers with the right suppliers. CEO Gregor Stühler said the company is looking into strategic acquisitions and plans to expand several departments, including AI and machine learning, from about 160 staffers to 260 across offices by next year. Stűhler said that by 2021, the firm aims "to save global companies $10 billion a year with our intelligent, transparent and fair supplier discovery platform." - TECH.EU

4. Staffers at Ars Technica tested out the sequel to AI Dungeon and said that they could not "stop laughing." AI Dungeon 2, an experiment born out of OpenAI's GPT-2, is a freely available text adventure that "combines GPT-2 with roughly 30MB of stories lifted from ChooseYourStory.com," according to the publication. In tests, staffers said the new Dungeon "does much better if you collaborate with it on a story rather than giving it commands" and "is particularly good at understanding violent commands." The Verge writes that earlier versions were "clumsy to set up or limited to mobile apps," but the newer version is "more stable." - ARS TECHNICA

5. Icelandic singer Björk used Microsoft's AI to create music that changes in response to the weather and sun. The generative score, known as ‘kórsafn' (or ‘choir archive’ in Icelandic), was created using the singer's musical archives, which include 17 years of her recordings. It's currently playing in the lobby of the New York City hotel, Sister City. - DESIGN BOOM

6. Despite an IEEE Spectrum report that ranked Python as the top programming language, some Redditors discussed the possibility that C could be re-emerging as the prevailing AI programming language. Over the weekend, u/SeminolesRenegade said in a post that they were told that Python "will be taking a backseat to C for many autonomous applications of ML." Over 10 users responded, arguing everything from "Python will be the dominant language for years to come" to "they are fundamentally different" and "Python is basically a wrapper around C." - REDDIT / ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

7. In a Medium post, Cruise Automation co-founder and chief technology officer, Kyle Vogt, said the reporting methodology used to compare and measure self-driving vehicles technology is ineffective. Vogt referenced disengagements, a measurement that is published in reports to California’s Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The Cruise CTO said that while disengagements are used by the media and others to compare technology from different developers of automated driving technology, they are at times used as a courtesy to other drivers, or a cautious reaction from the back-up safety driver. - CRUISE / MEDIUM

A version of this story first appeared in Inside Automotive.

8. In a Brookings Institution piece, senior fellow Indermit Gill argues that whichever country leads in AI by 2030 "will rule the world until 2100." Gill, a professor of practice in the Sanford School of Public Policy at Duke University, predicts that the U.S. is most likely to succeed in this endeavor. He writes that "productivity growth will pick up again as businesses take advantage of new technologies, consumers will take home big price and quality gains, and policy types will stop fretting about fears of secular stagnation." - BROOKINGS BLOG

9. A Reddit user-generated architectural images using only the text-to-image algorithm AttnGan. Researchers proposed the Attentional Generative Adversarial Network back in 2017, writing that it "can synthesize fine-grained details at different subregions of the image by paying attention to the relevant words in the natural language description." Redditor u/milos_the_username linked to galleries of the images on a WordPress blog, saying, "it took some courage and patience." - REDDIT / ARTIFICIAL INTELLIGENCE

10. Tweet of the Day: Salesforce Chief Digital Evangelist Vala Afshar writes that "in the last 20 years, software ate the world," but "in the next 20 years, AI will eat software." - @VALAAFSHAR

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 here.

Edited by Sheena Vasani, Inside Dev editor.

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