Tech Companies Are Building Tiny, Personal AIs to Keep Your Messages Private

Quartz, 2/10/2017

Technology companies, such as Facebook and Google, are developing artificial intelligence systems (AI) for mobile devices to improve the privacy of messaging applications. New AI innovations allow algorithms that need less computing power, and can therefore be implemented locally on mobile devices. This means that information would not be sent to and from the cloud, reducing potential security issues.

Voice Control Everywhere

MIT News, 2/13/2017

A chip, designed by MIT researchers, may reduce the level of energy required to use speech recognition. The software specific speech recognition chip will use up to an estimated 99% less energy compared to universal software compatible chips. The researchers hope to provide an energy efficient solution that allows users to interact with their small electronic devices using speech instead of touch based user interfaces.

New Smartwatch Software May Now Verify Your Signatures

Phys.org, 1/30/2017 (university press release)

Researchers from Tel Aviv University and Ben-Gurion University have developed new software that will allow smartwatches to verify handwritten signatures. This software monitors the movement of the entire wrist in order to catch attempts at forgery, by identifying movements that do not match the movements of the original owner. The goal of this software is to reduce acts of forgery.

Mobile Phone and Satellite Data to Map Poverty

University of Southampton, 2/07/2017

Researchers, led by WorldPop at University of Southampton and Flowminder Foundation, have developed a way to measure poverty levels in Bangladesh. They combine anonymous mobile phone data, such as data usage and distances traveled by the phone’s user, with satellite sensor data such as use of electric lights. They hope to provide more precise data about poverty levels to help governments and relief organizations combat poverty.

Twitter Data Could Improve Subway Operations During Big Events

University at Buffalo News Center, 1/26/2017

Research performed at the University at Buffalo has suggested that the swelling of subway usage during large events correlates closely with increases in Twitter activity. The Twitter data, which can be filtered by location and content, could potentially become a cost-effective aid to event planning and transit scheduling for crowded occasions.

Private Medical Data Is For Sale – and It’s Driving a Business Worth Billions

The Guardian, 1/10/017

Private medical data is a multi-million dollar industry that is growing rapidly, according to Adam Tanner at Harvard’s Institute for Quantitative Social Science. When medical data is initially sold to big data miners, it may be referred to only by unidentifiable numbers. However, data miners can re-identify patients by cross-referencing the medical data with data collected from other sources.

For Driverless Cars, a Moral Dilemma: Who Lives or Dies?

Associated Press, 1/18/2017

Researchers at MIT are conducting a worldwide survey to determine how consumers think a self-driving car should handle morally complex situations. Their findings will tell designers how drivers will generally expect their self-driving vehicles to react, and what might need to be added so that potential buyers can better trust the new technology.

AI Spots Skin Cancer as Well as Human Doctor

Newsweek, 1/26/2017

A team of researchers at Stanford University has developed an artificial intelligence (AI) algorithm that can identify early symptoms of skin cancer. The researchers trained the algorithm with a large data set of images that had already been identified as cancerous or benign. The algorithm identifies skin lesions with the same accuracy as board-certified dermatologists.

Give Robots ‘Personhood’ Status, EU Committee Argues

The Guardian, 1/12/2017

The European Parliament is considering a proposed legal framework to define the rights and responsibilities of autonomous artificial intelligences and of the companies and engineers who make them, including who is responsible for errors and who benefits from products created by AIs. The framework also suggests measures to reduce the negative economic impacts on the human labor force.

Net Providers to Begin Sending ‘Pirate’ Emails

BBC, 1/11/2017

A group of UK Internet service providers are attempting to crack down on piracy by sending emails to users of peer-to-peer services who have been flagged for piracy. The emails inform users about legitimate ways of acquiring content. Some argue that this is “too little, too late”, and that monitoring P2P traffic is not sufficient since many pirates now use direct downloads and streaming, which are not monitored.