IBM will no longer offer, develop, or research facial recognition technology – for law enforcement

IBM’s CEO says we should reevaluate selling the technology to law enforcement

facial recognition image: Illustration by Alex Castro / The Verge

IBM will no longer offer general purpose facial recognition or analysis software, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said in a letter to Congress today. The company will also no longer develop or research the technology, IBM tells The Verge. Krishna addressed the letter to Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any [facial recognition] technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,” Krishna said in the letter. “We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.” 

Facial recognition software has improved greatly over the last decade thanks to advances in artificial intelligence. At the same time, the technology — because it is often provided by private companies with little regulation or federal oversight — has been shown to suffer from bias along lines of age, race, and ethnicity, which can make the tools unreliable for law enforcement and security and ripe for potential civil rights abuses. full article at The Verge

California Sues Uber and Lyft to Classify Drivers as Employees

The suit threatens to upend the business models of Uber and Lyft, which view themselves as tech-y intermediaries between people who want rides and people willing to drive them. An analysis by Barclays estimates that treating California drivers as employees would cost Uber $506 million and Lyft $290 million annually; neither company is profitable.

THE STATE OF California and three of its biggest cities have sued Uber and Lyft for misclassifying hundreds of thousands of drivers as independent contractors, in violation of a new state law. The suit, under a law known as Assembly Bill 5, argues that drivers are company employees, entitled to minimum and overtime wages, paid sick leave, health benefits, and access to social insurance programs like unemployment.

The lawsuit also brings to a head simmering tensions of “gig economy workers, who have been at the front lines of the coronavirus  pandemic. Workers at firms that offer shopping or delivery, such as Instacart and Postmates, have complained that their low wages, determined and managed by platform algorithms, don’t accurately reflect the risks they’re taking to deliver people and goods during a public health crisis.

Elsewhere, both companies are reporting huge drops in use of their ride-share service during the pandemic – adding to the precariousness of the business model now that it is under suit as well. Stay tuned . . .

Workforce Matters in Manufacturing

Here are the top stories on manufacturing from 2019. The changing workforce led coverage of manufacturing.

The Landscape of Industrial Manufacturing and Warehouse Robots; Prepping the Workforce for Smart Automation ; Rise of the Augmented Worker ; Manufacturers Turn to Automation to Combat Labor Shortages ; Retiring Knowledge Workers May Get Replaced with Technology ; Industrial 5G: Impact on Factory Automation ; The Industry 4.0 Blueprint Is Being Rewritten by Startups 

Future of Technology & Entertainment: Jobs, Business Potential and Policy Questions

As the epicenter of digital entertainment creation and entertainment jobs, keeping up with tech and entertainment is part of our mandate. With the dawn of AI and the rise of social media, technology is scarier — and more exciting — than ever. Here’s how it’s changing music, TV, sports and more.

Virtual reality is going hyper-real. CGI is bringing back the old stars. A recent concert used no less than 157,000 multidirectional speakers to send the music to its audience! One car company is doing away with speakers and simply turning. the entire car body into a speaker. Machine made music, anyone? AI songwriting is gaining traction. Several artists using a songwriting algorithm called Flow Machines already have appeared in Spotify.

But in addition to innovations and job potential, there are policy questions in need of addressing when it comes to entertainment technology, just as there are in other tech fields. For instance, according to Rolling Stone Magazine, ” Taylor Swift fans mesmerized by rehearsal clips on a kiosk at her May 18, 2019 Rose Bowl show were unaware of one crucial detail: A facial-recognition camera inside the display was taking their photos. The images were being transferred to a Nashville “command post,” where they were cross-referenced with a database of hundreds of the pop star’s known stalkers, according to Mike Downing, chief security officer of Oak View Group, an advisory board for concert venues including Madison Square Garden and the Forum in L.A. “Everybody who went by would stop and stare at it, and the software would start working,” …. Despite the obvious privacy concerns — for starters, who owns those pictures of concertgoers and how long can they be kept on file? — the use of facial-recognition technology is on the rise at stadiums and arenas, and security is not the only goal. . . . “ full article

Why some cities are banning facial recognition

facial recognition image

There are cameras everywhere now, even in billboards you pass. Every time you ID yourself or a friend on Facebook, you have added facial identity information to the cloud. Most airports are using it on all patrons. Security cameras employ it. Facial recognition may make police work faster and easier. But knowing that everyone’s face is being tracked 24/7, which is possible in the near future, could have a detrimental effect on people’s decisions about what they will say, where they will go (think churches, community centers, rallies . . . . ). So, not only does facial recognition have an impact on our rights of privacy, it could impact our rights of assemblage, speech and more. In addition, it is notoriously inaccurate on faces of color and women. This is something that society needs to be addressing together, while there is still time, rather than allowing a free-for-all in use by police, military, commercial security companies, advertising agencies and more. A few cities have banned their use (including San Francisco and Oakland), but there are currently no state or federal laws regulating facial recognition. Watch the video, then consider if policy intervention is needed.

Link to Wired Video Interview


Glendale Receives $1 Million to Launch Startup Accelerator

The City of Glendale has received $1 million from the state of California to launch a tech startup accelerator.

Accelerators offer mentoring, marketing, networking, investment opportunities, and other services to early-stage local tech companies seeking to progress to the “next level.”

The City is seeking feedback from startups, accelerators, and community members on how a Glendale-based accelerator would best serve them and make the greatest impact for the region. Click here to join the conversation.

A Post-Product World

In a post-product world, the digital twin becomes the instance of truth, not the physical product itself. (Source: Solidworks) - image

The manufacturing plant of the future will produce not products but experience. If you take the new the robots for mobility – self-driving cars – they’re connected machines. Where does the value come from – the chassis and four wheels – or does it come from the connected services? Those connected services are what we call the experience.

The customer seeks the service, not the product. The value to the customer is coming from the experience of using the car, not from the car itself. Those who succeed in the 21st Century will be those who provide change by offering a new type of experience. This is what makes the 21st Century different from the 20th Century. Millennials Are Ready for a Post-Product World.To some extent, the post-product world is a generational issue. Millennials get the notion that products are essentially experience. For Gen Xers and Boomers, the concept takes some getting used to. Many Millennials used shared rides during their college years. They understand the positive economics of not owning a car.The diminishing sales of CDs is another example of experience over products. My Millennial kids are perfectly content not owning any of the music they listen to, and they’ve taught their Boomer old man that CDs are a clunky way to consume music. I now have countless albums in my Amazon Prime collection. I pay a monthly fee for access, it’s far less than I used spend buying CDs. full article 


AI (Artificial Intelligence) as Job Helper Rather Than Job Usurper

There’s a fear that AI is going to take over our jobs – and with the advent of everything from self-driving cars to artificial customer service agents, it’s a valid concern. It’s especially fair when McKinsey, one of the most trusted global management consulting firms, predicts that as many as 800 million full-time employees could have their work displaced by 2030 due to automation

Yet, that data point alone is not reality. In fact, with the following statistics next to it, we can paint a much better picture for the future of work. According to the same McKinsey report: 

  • Less than 5 percent of occupations consist of activities that can be fully automated
  • In about 60 percent of occupations, only one-third of tasks could be automated 

IT professionals are certainly up for it. Because while their jobs are becoming more complex and time consuming, their numbers in business are not increasing to balance this growth. The principal value of AI in IT is that it can help predict problems rather than just react to them – i.e. prevent problems rather than just attempt to mitigate them. more at Forbes