Google has launched a global advisory council to offer guidance on ethical issues relating to artificial intelligence, automation and related technologies.
The panel was announced at MIT Technology Review’s EmTech Digital, a conference organised by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology. The panel, consisting of eight people, will consider some of Google’s most complex challenges.
Google has come under intense criticism – internally and externally – over how it plans to use emerging technologies. In June 2018 the company said it would not renew a contract it had with the Pentagon to develop AI technology to control drones. Project Maven, as it was known, was unpopular among Google’s staff, and prompted some resignations. In response, Google published a set of AI “principles” it said it would abide by. They included pledges to be “socially beneficial’ and “accountable to people”.
The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC) will meet for the first time in April. In a blog post, Google’s head of global affairs, Kent Walker, said there would be three further meetings in 2019.
It will discuss recommendations about how to use technologies such as facial recognition. Last year, Google’s then-head of cloud computing, Diane Greene, described facial recognition tech as having “inherent bias” due to a lack of diverse data.
In a highly-cited thesis entitled Robots Should Be Slaves, Ms Bryson argued against the trend of treating robots like people.
“In humanising them,” she wrote, “we not only further dehumanise real people, but also encourage poor human decision making in the allocation of resources and responsibility.”
In 2018 she argued that complexity should not be used as an excuse to not properly inform the public of how AI systems operate.
“When a system using AI causes damage, we need to know we can hold the human beings behind that system to account.”
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (26th March 2019)
Twitter has issued a warning to users to ignore a hoax suggesting an alternative colour scheme will appear if they change their birth year to 2007. Instead users who fall for the scam will be locked out of their accounts because Twitter prohibits anyone under the age of 13 from using the site.
A spokesman for Twitter declined to confirm how many people have succumbed to the hoax so far. The hoax has been circulating for a few days, with one tweet promoting it having received nearly 20,000 retweets since it was posted on Monday. Many appear to have been taken in by the hoax, with some expressing dismay at having lost access to their accounts.
In another recent scam, verified Twitter accounts were taken over by hackers and used to spread fake links offering free Bitcoin to users.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (27th March 2019)
According to Facebook, malicious quiz apps were used to harvest thousands of users’ profile data. Anyone who wants to take the quizzes are asked to install browser extensions, which then lift data ranging from names and profile pictures to private lists of friends. Facebook reported that these were installed about 63,000 times between 2016 and October 2018.
The quizzes, with titles such as ‘What does your eye colour say about you?’ and ‘Do people love you for your intelligence or your beauty?’, gained access to this information via the Facebook Login system – which enables connections between third party apps and Facebook profiles. While the system is intended to verify that such connections are secure, in this case, Facebook says users were falsely told the app would retrieve only a limited amount of public data from their profiles.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (11th March 2019)
A charity has found that sex offenders are grooming children on Instagram more than on any other platform.
Police in England and Wales recorded 1,944 cases of sexual communication with children within six months. Instagram was used in 32% of the 1,317 cases where a method was recorded, Facebook in 23% and Snapchat in 14%.
Instagram and Facebook said they “aggressively” fought grooming, while Snapchat said it was “unacceptable”.
Following pressure from campaigners, sexual communication with a child became an offence in April 2017. In the 18 months that followed, more than 5,000 online grooming offences were recorded by police, according to the data gathered by the NSPCC. The charity said the figures did not “fully reflect the scale of the issue”, as many crimes went undetected or unreported.
Where the police logged age and gender, seven out of 10 victims were girls aged 12 to 15. One in five was aged 11 or under. The youngest victim was five years old.
www.bbc.co.uk/technews (1st March 2019)