Helping the blind ‘see’. Facebook ad algorithms gone wild. Ford + self-driving. http://cognitionx.com/news-briefing/.
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This week we saw some really inspiring innovation (and serious funding) in the AI healthcare space:
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ProPublica, an investigative news organization, reported that the social network’s self-service ad-buying system allowed people to direct advertisements to nearly 2,300 users interested in several explicitly antisemitic subjects, including a category labeled “History of ‘why Jews ruin the world’”.
In its report, ProPublica noted that the objectionable ad categories were very small. But Facebook’s algorithms had suggestions to boost the audience size, including to people who like gun rights. When ProPublica searched for categories related to “Hitler”, Facebook suggested a field called “Hitler did nothing wrong”. After the ad was approved, Facebook also automatically described the advert as targeting people interested in “Antysemityzm”, a Polish word.
In early August, the transportation reporter at Arlington, Virginia’s NBC affiliate filmed a video as he approached a Ford Transit van that appeared to be piloted by a man dressed up as the front seat of a car. The video went appropriately viral, and only then was it uncovered that this wasn’t just a goof, it was a test being performed by
Virginia Tech’s Transportation Institute. Now, it turns out, Ford was in on it, too.
A post on Ford’s Self-Driven blog details how the company, which has been funding the project over at VTTI, was using this ruse to learn about how pedestrians and other drivers will respond to self-driving cars. A main focus of the project is the mysterious light bar that stretches across the van’s windshield. While some guessed it was a LIDAR sensor, or some other such self-driving tech, Ford and VTTI are using it to experiment with how to communicate an autonomous car’s intentions to the people around it.
Vinod Khosla argues that long before AI goes uncontrollable or takes over jobs, there lurks a much larger danger: AI in the hands of governments and/or bad actors used to push self-interested agendas against the greater good.
Regardless of what we do, what’s clear is we need much more dialog, debate, and increased countermeasure funding; instead of generating hysteria about some far off dystopian possibility mired in uncertainties and what ifs, we need to focus on the immediate wave of danger before it hits. Not taking risks here might inadvertently be the largest risk we take.
Augment announced it has raised $5 million for an AI platform that assists customer service agents at large companies. The startup had operated in stealth for 10 months prior to launch. The company joins competitors like Mattersight, DigitalGenius, LivePerson, and others in its efforts to train AI using conversations between customers and businesses in order to better guide customer service agents.
The money will be used to bolster the Augment AI platform, which is trained by an aggregated dataset made up of 100 million conversational interactions at large companies, including Dyson. Augment makes no attempt to replace human agents, only to make them more efficient.
At a robotics showcase in Pisa, Italy on Sept. 12, a robot—for the very first time in history—conducted an entire orchestra. The dual-armed robot, which was designed by Swiss tech company ABB and is named YuMi (a word derived from, surprise, “you and me”), was “taught” all the movements by Lucca Philharmonic orchestra conductor Andrea Colombini, who directed its arms in rehearsals. It conducted three pieces at Tuesday’s show alongside Italian tenor Andrea Bocelli, including the famous “La donna e mobile” aria from Verdi’s Rigoletto.
“The gestural nuances of a conductor have been fully reproduced at a level that was previously unthinkable to me,” Colombini marvelled in a blogpost before the performance.
If you get the chance, have a look at a recent opinion piece (p. 18) from Charlie Muirhead (CEO & Founder) on the impact of AI and automation on financial services.
He argues that the time for experimenting within existing functions through fintech partnerships has passed. Today’s mission is to overhaul legacy infrastructure and practices to bring the entire sector up to speed. He believes that banks need to look beyond the business model and competitor set they have grown accustomed to over the last century.
Unmanned aircraft, in particular Remotely Piloted Aircraft Systems (RPAS), are already in daily use for both business and recreational uses. The UK Government has just announced plans for mandatory registration and training and there are many initiatives around the world to develop both safety standards and regulation. One central issue is the acceptability, in safety terms, of very high levels of automation, and there does not appear to be clear guidance in this area.
This seminar from the Royal Aeronautical
Society aims to contribute to the thinking and work with a view to informing the development and implementation of advanced automation.