Google Wages War on Gender

Ok, not really. But I can imagine that being a headline of some inflammatory “news” article. ๐Ÿ—ž๏ธ

They’re working to remove implicit, societal gender bias from machine translations in Google Translate by changing the underlying architecture of the machine learning model they use. Basically, the model now produces a masculine and feminine version and then determines which is most likely needed. It appears that in some cases, like translating from the gender-neutral Turkish language, the system will return both versions. โœŒ๏ธ

This is after they announced that all gender pronouns will be removed from Gmail’s Smart Compose feature because it was showing biased tendencies with its recommendations. ๐Ÿ“ง

It’s early in the process but it appears that they are dedicated to this work and have big dreams. ๐Ÿ”ฎ

This is just the first step toward addressing gender bias in machine-translation systems and reiterates Googleโ€™s commitment toย fairness in machine learning. In the future, we plan to extend gender-specific translations to more languages and to address non-binary gender in translations.

Src: Google AI blog

They’re Making a List, And Checking it Lots ๐Ÿ“‡

Oh yay, China is exporting its panopticon. ๐Ÿค

First up? Venezuela. The land of oil, soaring inflation, an imploding economy, and a leader thatโ€™s super into overt political intimidation. ๐Ÿ”จ

It can’t be that bad, right? ๐Ÿคท

โ€œWhat we saw in China changed everything,โ€ said the member of the Venezuelan delegation, technical advisor Anthony Daquin. His initial amazement, he said, gradually turned to fear that such a system could lead to abuses of privacy by Venezuelaโ€™s government. โ€œThey were looking to have citizen control.โ€

Uh, maybe it can. ๐Ÿ˜Ÿ

This holiday season’s must have gift? A build-your-own-authoritarian-regmie kit. ๐ŸŽ

Src: Reuters

Listen Up : Digital Immortality โ™พ๏ธ

What do you do if you and your loved one want to be together forever? You work on recreating yourselves as robot clones that aren’t subject to these finicky flesh bags we call bodies. This podcast doesn’t focus on the tech end of this story, but it includes some interesting interactions with and overviews of the work. ๐Ÿค–

I have been curious about what the future will look like as realistic voice technologies continue to improve since they could conceivably be trained on someone’s social media body of work. Can we create digital twins of ourselves with which we can converse? Will we free ourselves from death not through life extension but through self digitization? Will we consider these digital clones to be a version of us, a human analog? ๐Ÿค”

Src: This Is Love podcast

Pair with the LifeAfter podcast, a sci-fi story based on people being able to interact with deceased loved ones through the social media history they left behind.

Just a quick note, I am not anti-death. I don’t long for a radically increased life span. I worry about what impact “freeing ourselves from mortality” would have on our humanity and life in general.

Do The Digital Worm ๐Ÿ›

Step 1: recreate the brain of the C. elegans worm as a neural network ๐Ÿง 

Step 2: ask it to park a car ๐Ÿš—

Researchers digitized the worm brain, the only fully mapped brain we have, with a 12 neuron network. The goal of this exercise was to create a neural network that humans can understand and parse since the organic version it is based on is well understood. ๐Ÿ—บ

An interesting realization that came out of this exercise: ๐Ÿ‘‡

Curiously, both the AI model and the realย C. elegansย neural circuit contained two neurons that seemed to be acting antagonistically, he saidโ€”when one was highly active, the other wasnโ€™t.

I wonder when this switching neuron feature will be rolled into an AI/ML/DL architecture. ๐Ÿค”

Src: Motherboard

Deepfake Detector ๐Ÿ”ฆ

Detecting deepfakes is a problem garnering a lot of interest and effort in an ever upward-ratcheting race between the fakers and the breakers. A new approach being taken by at least two startups is to verify and record an image or video at the moment of creation to benchmark future versions against. ๐Ÿ“ธ

This is probably the best method to truly thwart fakes since they can check on a price level for modifications compared to the original versus trying to spot signs of alteration in the image or video in questions. The latter method is always a footrace between the two competing interests for better methods, the former is a matter of widespread adoption. ๐ŸŒŽ๐ŸŒ๐ŸŒ

Now that’s not to say that adoption is a trivial hurdle, but it’s a one-time hurdle. They key will be getting this kind of tech baked in to the devices, platforms, and apps we are already using instead of requiring people to add more to their home screens and habits. A problem and solution readily voiced by the current companies operating in this field. I’m very interested to see how this approach progresses and hope it can become the standard of our digital camera era. ๐Ÿคž

Src: MIT Tech Review

Ghosts as Ethical Proxies ๐Ÿ‘ป

Proof that the data used to train systems can impact the ethical fallout of their performance. And potentially the beginning of us getting a look under-the-hood at these still mysterious systems. I am interested to see how this approach will be applied to non-toy scenarios. ๐Ÿ“ก

Src: Fast Company

Hey, Whoโ€™s Driving that Trolley? ๐Ÿš‹

It is interesting to think about how cultural differences will impact reactions to some AI decisions and could make it difficult to scale a product with localizing it. ๐Ÿค”

A study by the MIT Media Lab has collects global input on variations of the classic ethical dilemma thought experiment, the trolley problem, and found interesting distinctions between cultures. This could help AI developers work through ethics and bias issues, especially in the autonomous vehicle space. But the study noted an important caveat, this data isn’t a requirement or even a suggestion, it is just an input for consideration. Problematic trends shouldn’t be perpetuated in software. ๐Ÿšซ

Src: MIT Tech Review

The Autonomous Vehicle Economy

I’ve been toying with the economic consequences of the impending autonomous vehicle revolution for a while now and this recent IKEA thought exercise got me thinking about it again. ๐Ÿ”

For now, a brain dump in bullet point format. Maybe I’ll expand on/gussy up these thoughts in the future. ๐Ÿคท

  • Drie-thrus will die and be reborn. Fast food restaurants will struggle as their convenience factor will be eroded once hands do not need to be on steering wheels. Connected and networked cars will allow for safely ordering ahead and cars will become dining cars with expansive, outsourced kitchens. Any restaurant that desires could be a drivethru or grab-and-go establishment. A Ruth’s Chris at every interchange sliding surf and turf specials through windows to be eaten on the go. ๐Ÿฅฉ
  • Horizon lines are decluttered as billboards disappear. Why pay to mass advertise on a floating wall when you can deliver targeted messaging inside your dream customers vehicle on a heads up, digital dashboard product with dynamic creative tailored on the fly using input from onboard sensors and information and the targets data portfolio from the web. Or a subscription allows riders to opt out of all advertising and cruise in peace as the admire the landscape. ๐Ÿž๏ธ
  • The roadside motel/hotel/travelodge industry dwindles as cars assume the duty of sleeper car, transporting their charge as they sleep. Why stop and extend travel time if you can careen towards your destination while unconscious? ๐Ÿ›Œ
  • Roadside assistance and emergency response becomes a rare occurrence one vehicles form a networked hive mind that eradicates traffic and accidents and vehicles can predict, plan, and schedule all necessary maintenance. ๐Ÿšจ

Src: MIT Tech Review

Could Machines Save Our Humanity? ๐Ÿค–โ™ฅ๏ธ๐Ÿ‘ค

The typical fear is that technology is eroding our ability to interact with other humans and generally turning humanity into a race to the bottom. Judging by social media, I can’t say that fear is misplaced. But is it the only possibility? ๐Ÿค”

I am intrigued by this notion that voice assistants could help us “recover” from the effects of screened supercomputers in our pockets by making us think differently about how we phrase our inquiries and, potentially, increasing our patience as we interact with a developing technology. (And yes, I totally get the fear that being able to command non-human voice assistants could degrade manners, but it’s not an inherent aspect of the tech. That’s on us humans.) Maybe all our brains needed to rebound was to interact with technology like we’ve interacted with living creatures for centuries. ๐Ÿ—ฃ๏ธ

Src: Manual Vonau