‘The Commission does not support a global prohibition of A.I. enabled and autonomous weapons systems’

US army drones at the Ain al-Asad airbase
US army drones at the Ain al-Asad airbase
Photo: Ayman Henna/AFP/Getty

For the last two years, a federal commission led by former Google CEO Eric Schmidt and former Deputy Secretary of Defense Robert O. Work has debated how A.I. can best be used for national security.

The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence has made recommendations to Congress like starting a school called the Digital Service Academy and beseeched tech companies to help the U.S gain “A.I. supremacy.”

As part of an upcoming list of recommendations to Congress, the commission wants to explore the creation of autonomous killer robots, leaders of the organization said in a livestreamed meeting this week.

“The commission does not support a global prohibition of A.I. enabled and autonomous weapons systems,” Work said, adding that countries are still responsible for mitigating the risks of autonomous weapons. …

‘Uncareful efforts to poke holes in Section 230 could result in the exact opposite outcome’

More than 70 advocacy organizations have sent a letter to Congress and the Biden administration warning against making changes to Section 230, the law that gives tech platforms immunity for the content users post on their sites.

Organizations such as Fight for the Future, the Surveillance Technology Oversight Project, and Data for Black Lives are typically critical of laws that indemnify Big Tech companies, but in this case, the civil rights advocates and tech firms are aligned: Nobody wants Twitter or Facebook to be legally obligated to police more kinds of speech.

“We concur that Congress should act to address the harms of Big Tech through meaningful legislative action on data privacy, civil rights and others fronts, and enforcement of existing antitrust laws,” the letter says. “But uncareful efforts to poke holes in Section 230 could result in the exact opposite outcome.” …

The executive orders are being widely hailed — but as they stand now, they are limited in scope

The Biden administration will tell the Department of Justice not to renew contracts with private prisons in addition to ordering the Department of Housing and Urban Development to reconsider Trump-era policies making it harder to prove discrimination.

These executive orders are being widely hailed as part of Biden’s racial equity campaign, but as they stand now, they’re limited in scope.

For instance, the Department of Justice is just one of the federal institutions that use private prisons. Biden’s plan doesn’t affect the Department of Homeland Security or the U.S. …

OpenAI disclosed the problem on GitHub — but released GPT-3 anyway

OpenAI company text logo
OpenAI company text logo

Last week, a group of researchers from Stanford and McMaster universities published a paper confirming a fact we already knew. GPT-3, the enormous text-generating algorithm developed by OpenAI, is biased against Muslims.

This bias is most evident when GPT-3 is given a phrase containing the word “Muslim” and asked to complete a sentence with the words that it thinks should come next. In more than 60% of cases documented by researchers, GPT-3 created sentences associating Muslims with shooting, bombs, murder, and violence.

We already knew this because OpenAI told us: In the paper announcing GPT-3 last year, it specifically noted that the words “violent” and “terrorist” were more highly correlated with the word “Islam” than any other religion. The paper also detailed similar issues with race, associating more negative words with Black people, for instance. …

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Police officers stand at attention at the Capitol Building on Inauguration Day. Photo: Yalonda M. James / The San Francisco Chronicle via Getty Images

Hundreds of Black officers in the U.S. Capitol Police have reported rampant racism from their colleagues for two decades, according to a story from ProPublica that traces a link between police racism and the ease at which White nationalists were able to overtake the Capitol on January 6.

More than 250 Black officers have sued the Capitol Police for racial discrimination since 2001, and former Black cops tell ProPublica that White officers would berate them with racial slurs and unprovoked traffic stops.

Frank Adams, a Black 20-year veteran of the Capitol Police, told ProPublica that Congress should have listened to the reports of racism years ago. …


Could Google and Facebook’s algorithms be next?

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Photo: Images By Tang Ming Tung/Getty Images

OneZero’s General Intelligence is a roundup of the most important artificial intelligence and facial recognition news of the week.

In 2019, an investigation by NBC News revealed that photo storage app Ever had quietly siphoned billions of its users’ photos to train facial recognition algorithms.

Pictures of people’s friends and families, which they had thought were private, were in fact being used to train algorithms that Ever then sold to law enforcement and the U.S. military.

Two years later, the Federal Trade Commission has now made an example of parent company Everalbum, which has since rebranded to be named Paravision. In a decision posted January 11, Paravision will be required to delete all the photos it had secretly taken from users, as well as any algorithms it built using that data. …

On June 1, Washington, D.C. police arrested more than 300 Black Lives Matter protesters during marches against police brutality.

Last Wednesday, when Trump supporters overran the Capitol with zip-cuffs and the intent to kill members of Congress, only 61 were arrested, and on less serious charges, according to a CNN analysis.

“We are a city that deals with mass demonstrations all the time,” Monica Hopkins, the ACLU of D.C.’s executive director, told CNN. “For any law enforcement agency in this city to say they were caught flat-footed or they didn’t know what was coming is just incredibly false.”

That 61 number also pales in comparison to more than 10,000 Black Lives Matter protesters from around the country that were arrested during nonviolent protests in early June. …

And you can, too

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My 3D-printed custom nose bridge. Images courtesy of the author

I wear glasses (not pictured above for photo reasons), and for the last nine months they’ve fogged up every time I’ve gone outside. For some reason, I haven’t been able to find a mask that’s comfortable and keeps my breath from blowing up into my glasses.

Thanks to the magic of 3D printing, I’ve come up with a solution, and it works surprisingly well. And you can do it, too, if you have access to a 3D printer, some free software, and someone to help measure your face. (You can measure your face yourself, but that’s a little harder.)

Here’s the plan: We’re going to make a tool to measure the curvature of your nose, and then use that measurement to design a custom clip to keep fog off your glasses. You clip the bridge over a mask, and since it contours exactly to your face, it gives the custom snug fit of a mask with metal wire, but in a more rigid material that won’t deform or unbend. …

The FBI, which is searching for insurrectionists who stormed the U.S. Capitol last week, is working with an unlikely partner: a local police department more than 600 miles away from Washington, D.C.

An officer in Alabama named Jason Webb told the Wall Street Journal that he had used Clearview AI technology on photos captured during the riot and sent matches to the FBI.

The story highlights how access to Clearview’s platform fundamentally changes the capabilities of local law enforcement. Local and state police departments that use facial recognition typically rely on mug shots they’ve collected or even state driver’s license photos, which limits the purview of the technology to their jurisdiction. …

General Intelligence

DALL-E can create images based on text descriptions alone

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Image source: xia yuan/Getty Images

OneZero’s General Intelligence is a roundup of the most important artificial intelligence and facial recognition news of the week.

OpenAI is earning a reputation for building some of the A.I. industry’s most futuristic prototypes.

The Microsoft-backed research outfit is now led by Y Combinator founder Sam Altman. …


Dave Gershgorn

Writing on AI at OneZero. Previously Qz, PopSci, and NYTimes.

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