AI Ethics: Seven Traps

 

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The question of how to ensure that technological innovation in machine learning and artificial intelligence leads to ethically desirable—or, more minimally, ethically defensible—impacts on society has generated much public debate in recent years. Most of these discussions have been accompanied by a strong sense of urgency: as more and more studies about algorithmic bias have shown, the risk that emerging technologies will not only reflect, but also exacerbate structural injustice in society is significant.

So which ethical principles ought to govern machine learning systems in order to prevent morally and politically objectionable outcomes? In other words: what is AI Ethics? And indeed, “is ethical AI even possible?”, as a recent New York Times article asks?

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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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How a Bitcoin evangelist made himself vanish, in 15 (not so easy) steps

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In October 2017, a SWAT team descended on Jameson Lopp’s house in North Carolina. Someone — it still isn’t clear who — had called the police and falsely claimed that a shooter at the home had killed someone and taken a hostage. After the police left, Mr. Lopp received a call threatening more mayhem if he did not make a large ransom payment in Bitcoin.

To scare off future attackers, Mr. Lopp quickly posted a video on Twitter of himself firing off his AR-15 rifle. He also decided he was going to make it much harder for his enemies — and anyone else — to find him ever again.

Mr. Lopp, a self-described libertarian who works for a Bitcoin security company, had long been obsessed with the value of privacy, and he set out to learn how thoroughly a person can escape the all-seeing eyes of corporate America and the government. But he wanted to do it without giving up internet access and moving to a shack in the woods.

Many celebrities and wealthy people, wary of thieves, paparazzi and other predators, have tried to achieve Mr. Lopp’s vision of complete privacy. Few have succeeded.

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Chinese facial recognition system confuses bus ad with a jaywalker

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It illustrates one of the many issues with China’s surveillance culture.

There are many criticisms you can level at China’s growing reliance on facial recognition, including its absolute faith in technology: what happens if there’s a false positive? Unfortunately, we just saw an example of that in action. Police in the city of Ningbo have taken corrective action after the facial recognition system at a crosswalk mistakenly accused famous businesswoman Dong Mingzhu of jaywalking because she appeared in an ad on a passing bus. As with any other detected offender in the area, it posted both Dong’s name (incorrectly displaying her surname as “Ju”) and government ID.

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Singapore wants to add face-recognition surveillance to 110,000 lamp posts

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Singapore may be turning its island state into a surveillance state.

The nation plans to install cameras equipped with facial recognition technology to all 110,000 lamp posts around the city, making it easier than ever for the country to keep tabs on its citizens and visitors, Reuters reports. The so-called “Lamppost-as-a-Platform” pilot project will allow the government to “perform crowd analytics” and support anti-terror operations through “various kinds of sensors on the lampposts, including cameras that can support backend facial recognition capabilities,” according to a government spokesperson who spoke to Reuters.

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Google is building a city of the future in Toronto. Would anyone want to live there?

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It could be the coolest new neighborhood on the planet—or a peek into the Orwellian metropolis that knows everything you did last night.

TORONTO—Even with a chilly mid-May breeze blowing off Lake Ontario, this city’s western waterfront approaches idyllic. The lake laps up against the boardwalk, people sit in colorful Adirondack chairs and footfalls of pedestrians compete with the cry of gulls. But walk east, and the scene quickly changes. Cut off from gleaming downtown Toronto by the Gardiner Expressway, the city trails off into a dusty landscape of rock-strewn parking lots and heaps of construction materials. Toronto’s eastern waterfront is bleak enough that Guillermo del Toro’s gothic film The Shape of Water used it as a plausible stand-in for Baltimore circa 1962. Says Adam Vaughan, a former journalist who represents this district in Canada’s Parliament, “It’s this weird industrial land that’s just been sitting there—acres and acres of it. And no one’s really known what to do with it.”

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Yes, Alexa is recording mundane details of your life, and it’s creepy as hell

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I’m not kicking our smart speaker out of the house just yet, but the consequences of having it in my family’s life are becoming clear.

Since last year I’ve had a smart speaker in my living room—an Echo Dot. My family uses it mostly to ask Amazon’s digital assistant, Alexa, to play music. But after I saw a report that an Alexa-enabled speaker owned by a family in Portland, Oregon, had recorded a conversation and sent it to a contact, I started wondering: what is it picking up on at my house when we’re not talking to it directly?

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Backyard skinny-dippers losing privacy to peeping drone stalkers

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Recent advances in technology mean we can no longer rely on fences or barriers around our homes to protect our privacy. This was certainly the case for Darwin resident Karli Hyatt, who on Tuesday explained how a drone invaded the security and privacy of her suburban backyard.

Hyatt had returned home last week from an evening gym session, undressed and jumped into her secluded backyard pool. She thought she was “skinny-dipping” in private. Within minutes, though, a small camera-mounted quadcopter drone was hovering close overhead. Hyatt is certain it was watching her, although there was no operator to be seen.

She describes the experience as initially shocking and has ongoing concerns about who might have been flying the drone and why. The result is an erosion of trust and cohesion in her neighborhood and a feeling of insecurity in her own home.

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Will we have any privacy when everyday objects are connected to the Internet of Things?

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Consumers who are wary of privacy can  take some comfort in the settings tab of our smartphones or browsers, which allow us to tell a device not to track our location or monitor what we are reading. But what can they do when the internet-connected device is inside their body or mounted on a city lamp-post? (Video)

 

 

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