📰 The Top Three
Tech-enabled Myanmar Military Juntas Threaten Basic Rights
Access to facial recognition and license plate recognition technology by the Myanmar military threatens fundamental freedoms like freedom of expression, association, and assembly, which only serves to bolster its increasing abuses against demonstrations.
The Big Picture: Face recognition is being applied beyond Myanmar in this controversial context. In China, it has been adopted for mass surveillance purposes. It is particularly abusive in China’s Xinjiang region, where it is used to assess relationships and behaviors of Uyghurs, identifying people authorities consider to be “problematic”.
Myanmar did not consult the public or ensure transparency when rolling out such technologies. There remains a question of whether the authorities intend to mitigate the technology’s potential impact on human rights. It is particularly troubling that the risk to privacy and related rights is so high under this potential violation of international law that protects basic human rights.
Women Are (and Should Be) Making Headways in AI and ML
Diversity initiatives, such as the inclusion of greater female representation in AI enterprises reduce selection bias, one of the biggest problems facing the AI industry. Amongst priorities that Springboard highlighted in order to build a more supportive environment were pay and promotion transparency and scholarships to assist the industry progress.
The Big Picture: STEM professions, shaped by years of gender and racial bias, lack diversity. Females hold only 25% of the computer science-related roles and 12% of machine learning roles.
Between The Lines: Recent years have seen more and more tech leaders embracing diversity, striving to create a nurturing environment. Diversity doesn’t just look good, it is essential to the success of organizations that develop algorithms for machine learning and artificial intelligence. In addition, many women engineers and researchers have launched their own initiatives to create opportunities and support networks.
#EthicalAI: New York Launches Vaccine Passport but Privacy Expert Urges You to Read the Fine Print
New York’s Vaccine Passport, the first of its kind in the US, is causing privacy concerns among some experts. IBM, co-creator, insists on the user data’s confidentiality through blockchain technology. Yet, the app’s privacy statement is less detailed than any typical mobile app, with no guarantees on limited accessibility by law enforcement departments.
The Big Picture: The NYC government has rolled out a smartphone app that checks whether a person is vaccinated against COVID-19 or has recently tested negative for the coronavirus. In a statement, Governor Andrew Cuomo said the Excelsior Passport will allow “more sectors of the economy to reopen safely and keeping personal information secure.”
Between The Lines: Privacy experts pointed to the application’s terms of service that does not explicitly state how the data is stored, tracked, safeguarded, and assessed. This follows a long string of international privacy concerns:
- 🇷🇺 Moscow: Facial recognition technology paired with a mobile application to enforce quarantine orders
- 🇧🇭 Bahrain: Location information sent to the central government server for self-isolation and quarantine enforcement
- 🇸🇬 Singapore: Utilization of contract tracing app data and Bluetooth token for polices’ criminal investigations despite promising otherwise
📸 Pictures of the Month
Above: AI-powered service called Deep Nostalgia, created by online genealogy company MyHeritage, animates still photos through pre-recorded driver videos of facial movements and applies the one that works best for the still photo in question.
Below: From leaked internal notes, Facebook, which has one of the largest repositories of user-uploaded photos, is discussing building facial recognition capabilities into its upcoming smart glasses product.
😇 Leave with a smile
Cascatelli, a new pasta shape, created by Dan Pashman, host of the food podcast The Sporkful. Short, with a flat strip and ruffles that stick out at a 90-degree angle
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