Facebook is challenging researchers to build a deep fakes detector

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Why it makes sense to fight deepfakes with deepfakes.

Deepfakes are becoming so convincing that it’s hard to tell them from real videos. And that could soon spell disaster, eroding trust in what we see online.

That’s why Facebook is teaming up with a consortium of researchers from Microsoft and several prominent research universities for a “Deepfake Detection Challenge.”

The idea is to build a data set, with the help of human user input, that’ll help neural networks detect what is and isn’t a deepfake. The end result, if all goes well, will be a system that can reliably fake videos online.

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Facebook is funding brain experiments to create a device that reads your mind

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Big tech firms are trying to read people’s thoughts, and no one’s ready for the consequences.

In 2017, Facebook announced that it wanted to create a headband that would let people type at a speed of 100 words per minute, just by thinking.

Now, a little over two years later, the social-media giant is revealing that it has been financing extensive university research on human volunteers.

Today, some of that research was described in a scientific paper from the University of California, San Francisco, where researchers have been developing “speech decoders” able to determine what people are trying to say by analyzing their brain signals.

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Facebook opens up its AI tool to OpenStreetMap users

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Volunteers can add unmapped roads, bridges and buildings.

Plugging a new address into your smartphone’s map app can show you where to go in seconds. But in places like rural Bangladesh and Indonesia, there are millions of miles of roads that are still uncharted territory. Facebook now hopes its AI technology will make it easier for volunteers on OpenStreetMap to add unmapped areas.

The social media giant announced today that it is opening its Map with AI tool to the entire OSM community, allowing anyone to use the tool to identify areas in Afghanistan, Bangladesh, Indonesia, Mexico, Nigeria, Tanzania and Uganda. Eventually, the company hopes to expand its mapping tool to cover the entire world.

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Consumer groups call for a moratorium on Libra until ‘profound questions’ are answered


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Some 33 consumer and public-policy groups sent a letter Tuesday to five Congressional committees and federal regulators asking for a moratorium on the Facebook Inc.-backed Libra cryptocurrency.

“We call on Congress and regulators to impose a moratorium on Facebook’s Libra and related plans until the profound questions raised by the proposal are addressed,” says the letter. “We also urge Facebook to put its implementation of its plans for the new cryptocurrency, Libra, on hold until the Congress and regulators have an opportunity to assess and react to a far more detailed presentation than has yet been made public.”

Among the signatories are the Consumer Federation of America, Consumer Reports, the Economic Policy Institute, the Electronic Privacy Information Center, Public Citizen, U.S. PIRG, and the Woodstock Institute.

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Mark Zuckerberg is about to become the head of a Swiss Bank. 3 reasons it should make you think

 

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Mark Zuckerberg is about to become the head of a very big bank based in Switzerland. Libra is Facebooks’ new cryptocurrency. Imagine sitting in a room thinking about what else you can sell to your 2.4bn people (including some bots) backed by a $1bn in guarantees from companies as wide as Paypal, Mastercard and Uber. This has the opportunity to severely disrupt existing financial transactions markets but also the deeper psychology of trust of our collective financial systems, collective expectations for what currency can and should do and also our personal relationships. For example, please pay me to socially post positive things about you. Just drop me some Libra.

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Facebook’s Calibra is a secret weapon for monetizing its new cryptocurrency

 

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The newly formed subsidiary will build Facebook’s digital wallet

Facebook’s announcement this morning of a new cryptocurrency, Libra, and the nonprofit association that will oversee it raises questions about the future of global banking and Facebook’s role in it. But behind Facebook’s ambitions to create a quasi-nation state ruled by mostly corporate interests is a secret weapon, one the company hopes it can use to create another platform used by billions of people — and generate enormous new revenue streams along the way.

It’s called Calibra, and it’s a new subsidiary of Facebook the company is launching to build financial services and software on top of the Libra blockchain. At first blush, Calibra resembles a fairly standard payments company — but its tight integration with Facebook’s enormous user base could give it a significant advantage over any rivals. Thanks to its proximity to the technical development of Libra, and its ability to leverage WhatsApp, Messenger, and Instagram, Calibra could very well become Facebook’s next big thing.

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‘Deepfakes’ called new election threat, with no easy fix

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WASHINGTON (AP) — “Deepfake” videos pose a clear and growing threat to America’s national security, lawmakers and experts say. The question is what to do about it, and that’s not easily answered.

A House Intelligence Committee hearing Thursday served up a public warning about the deceptive powers of artificial intelligence software and offered a sobering assessment of how fast the technology is outpacing efforts to stop it.

With a crudely altered video of House Speaker Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., fresh on everyone’s minds, lawmakers heard from experts how difficult it will be to combat these fakes and prevent them from being used to interfere in the 2020 election.

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Facebook plans to launch its cryptocurrency in 2020

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Share of Global Consumers Who Would Switch to a Big Tech Provider for Banking Services, by Segment

 Facebook is in the process of finalizing plans to launch its crypto in 2020, reports the BBC. The social media giant will roll out the digital currency in around a dozen countries by the first quarter of next year, with the company planning to begin testing for the crypto, internally dubbed GlobalCoin, by the end of this year, according to the outlet.

Here’s what it means: Facebook has tech and resources, but trust will be the currency that’ll really determine the success of its crypto project.

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The Dark Forest Theory of the Internet

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This is also what the internet is becoming: a dark forest

In his sci-fi trilogy The Three Body Problem, author Liu Cixin presents the dark forest theory of the universe.

When we look out into space, the theory goes, we’re struck by its silence. It seems like we’re the only ones here. After all, if other forms of life existed, wouldn’t they show themselves? Since they haven’t, we assume there’s no one else out there.

Liu invites us to think about this a different way.

Imagine a dark forest at night. It’s deathly quiet. Nothing moves. Nothing stirs. This could lead one to assume that the forest is devoid of life. But of course, it’s not. The dark forest is full of life. It’s quiet because night is when the predators come out. To survive, the animals stay silent.

Is our universe an empty forest or a dark one? If it’s a dark forest, then only Earth is foolish enough to ping the heavens and announce its presence. The rest of the universe already knows the real reason why the forest stays dark. It’s only a matter of time before the Earth learns as well.

This is also what the internet is becoming: a dark forest.

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Influencers are flocking to a surprising new kind of social media

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Influencers are flocking to a surprising new kind of social media

350+ influencers with a collective audience of 3.5 billion people are flocking to a platform called Escapex, which gives them their own apps. It’s part of the next wave of social media focused on smaller, more private groups.

Last week, actor Jeremy Renner posted a time-lapse video of himself trying on different outfits in front of the mirror. “Suiting up for the Avengers press tour,” he wrote. “What are you wearing?” More than 2,000 people commented on the post (some offered outfit tips, but many agreed he looked better without a shirt). Others said good luck, or jovially wished everyone a happy Friday.

None of this was happening on Instagram, but on Renner’s own app, where his most die-hard fans gather to gush about their favorite actor. They do more than just comment on Renner’s photos, videos, and give-away contests. They also post their own images in a “fan feed”–a quick scroll reveals a woman’s before-and-after haircut, a call for recommendations for a trip to L.A., and a shot of tomato soup and parmesan-crusted chicken with bacon, which a fan had made from another fan’s cookbook.

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Mark Zuckerberg: The Internet needs new rules. Let’s start in these four areas.

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Mark Zuckerberg is founder and chief executive of Facebook.

Technology is a major part of our lives, and companies such as Facebook have immense responsibilities. Every day, we make decisions about what speech is harmful, what constitutes political advertising, and how to prevent sophisticated cyberattacks. These are important for keeping our community safe. But if we were starting from scratch, we wouldn’t ask companies to make these judgments alone.

I believe we need a more active role for governments and regulators. By updating the rules for the Internet, we can preserve what’s best about it — the freedom for people to express themselves and for entrepreneurs to build new things — while also protecting society from broader harms.

From what I’ve learned, I believe we need new regulation in four areas: harmful content, election integrity, privacy and data portability.

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The automatic weapons of social media

 

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It’s time for the platforms to admit their response is flawed, and work together to protect our civil discourse.

This is not an easy essay to write, because I have believed that technology companies are a force for good for more than 30 years. And for the past ten years, I’ve been an unabashed optimist when it comes to the impact of social platforms like YouTube, Twitter, and even Facebook. I want to believe they create more good than bad in our world. But recently I’ve lost that faith.

What’s changed my mind is the recalcitrant posture of these companies in the face of overwhelming evidence that their platforms are being intentionally manipulated to undermine our democracy. This is an existential crisis, both for civil society and for the health of the businesses being manipulated. But to date the response from the platforms is the equivalent of politicians’ “hopes and prayers” after a school shooting: Soothing murmurs, evasion of truly hard conversations, and a refusal to acknowledge the core problem: Their automated business models.

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