A String Quartet Concert, With an A.I. Assist

New York Times, 1/13/2017

“Sight Machine”, a performance piece by artist Trevor Paglen, uses AI to generate a live image mapping of musicians as they play. The algorithm involves movement-analysis techniques common in automated surveillance. By showing how machines see movement, Paglen hopes to highlight the distinct divide between how AIs and humans perceive things — and how that might affect computer-aided decision-making.

UA-Developed Avatar Is Helping to Screen New Arrivals at Bucharest Airport

UANews, 1/9/2017

Romanian border police are using a system designed by the University of Arizona called AVATAR (Automated Virtual Agent for Truth Assessments in Real-Time), to screen international travelers at a Bucharest airport. The system is intended to measure body language, verbal responses, and physiological conditions before providing a summary for human personnel. Results from testing in Bucharest could influence whether and how the AVATAR system is implemented in the future.

Japanese Company Replaces Office Workers With Artificial Intelligence

The Guardian, 1/5/2017

Fukoku Mutual Life Insurance, an insurance firm in Japan, is replacing 34 workers with an AI system that will calculate payouts to policyholders. They are making these changes in an attempt to increase productivity within the firm. The article mentions other new uses of AI systems in Japan, including in government and politics, intended to increase productivity.

Ultrasound Tracking Could Be Used to Deanonymize Tor Users

Bleeping Computer, 1/3/2017

Cybersecurity researchers recently discovered that ultrasound cross-device tracking (uXDT), in which a web page plays an ultrasound signal that prompts nearby devices to identify themselves via ultrasound, could be effective even when users are using the anonymization proxy Tor. This provides an example of the continual arms race between privacy-enhancing technologies and privacy-invading technologies.

Uber Launches Artificial Intelligence Lab

BBC News 12/5/2016

Uber has acquired an artificial intelligence (AI) startup, Geometric Intelligence, and put the team to work on (among other things) self-driving cars. The company already uses machine learning to predict when and where cars will be needed, but self-driving cars would be a significant boon for company profits — albeit at the expense of existing drivers working with Uber.

UK Surveillance Law Marks a “Worse Than Scary” Shift

CNET, 11/29/2016

The Investigatory Powers Act, recently passed in the UK, will require telecom companies to store records of phone calls and websites visited for up to a year, and give authorities access to the latter without a warrant. It also legalizes bulk data collection by the British government. Groups like the Open Rights Group and Privacy International are openly critical of this law, calling it draconian.

Machine-Learning Algorithm Can Show Whether State Secrets Are Properly Classified

MIT Technology Review, 11/14/2016

Researchers from Columbia University and a Brazilian think tank have developed a machine-learning algorithm to predict whether now-declassified U.S. State Department cables from the 1970’s were unclassified, limited official use, confidential, or secret, based on contents and metadata such as sender and recipient. The study provides insight into how the information was classified, but also carries potential national security implications by highlighting trends in erroneous information classification — and systematic gaps where secret cables should have been declassified.