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.

AI Predicts Outcomes of Human Rights Trials

University College London/UCL News, 10/24/2016

Artificial intelligence has recently been used to predict (past) judicial decisions in the European Court of Human Rights to a surprising degree of accuracy. This method could potentially be used to automatically identify cases that are likely to involve human rights violations, and is also an interesting example of how artificial intelligence can quantify and even predict human behavior based on pattern recognition.

Large DDoS Attacks Cause Outages at Twitter, Spotify, and Other Sites

TechCrunch, 10/21/2016

A recent large scale DDoS (distributed denial of service) attack on DNS provider Dyn caused many sites to become temporarily inaccessible, including Twitter, Spotify, and a number of other important social media, e-commerce, news, and code-sharing sites. The attack was coordinated using a large group of compromised devices known as a “botnet”. Rather than computers, much of this botnet consisted of infected IoT (Internet of Things) devices such as security cameras.

Contract Expiration to End U.S. Authority Over Internet IP Addresses

The Washington Post, 9/30/2016

The contract that specified the U.S. government’s oversight over Internet address assignment has expired and ICANN (an international NGO) now has full control. ICANN holds the responsibility to protect the integrity, freedom, and security of the domain name system and IP address assignment. ICANN’s decisions thus have the potential to affect the communications of Internet users around the world.