Archives November 29, 2018

AI Mistakes Ad On a Bus For an Actual CEO, Then Publicly Shames Them For ‘Jaywalking’

Since last year, many Chinese cities have cracked down on jaywalking by investing in facial recognition systems and AI-powered surveillance cameras. Jaywalkers are identified and shamed by displaying their photographs on large public screens… Developments are also underway to engage the country’s mobile network operators and social media platforms, such as Tencent Holdings’ WeChat and Sina Weibo, to establish a system in which offenders will receive personal text messages as soon as they are caught violating traffic rules….

Making a compelling case for change is the recent experience of Dong Mingzhu, chairwoman of China’s biggest maker of air conditioners Gree Electric Appliances, who found her face splashed on a huge screen erected along a street in the port city of Ningbo… That artificial intelligence-backed surveillance system, however, erred in capturing Dong’s image on Wednesday from an advertisement on the side of a moving bus. The traffic police in Ningbo, a city in the eastern coastal province of Zhejiang, were quick to recognise the mistake, writing in a post on microblog Sina Weibo on Wednesday that it had deleted the snapshot. It also said the surveillance system would be completely upgraded to cut incidents of false recognition in future.

Can Police control your self-driving car?

In 2009 GM equipped 17,000 of its units with “remote ignition block,” a kill switch that can turn off the engine if the car is stolen. But that was just the beginning.

Imagine this: You’re leaving work, walking to your car, and you find an empty parking spot — someone stole your brand new Tesla (or whatever fancy autonomous car you’re driving). When you call the police, they ask your permission for a “takeover,” which you promptly give them. Next thing you know, your car is driving itself to the nearest police station. And here’s the kicker — if the thief is inside he will remain locked inside until police can arrest them.

This futuristic and almost slapstick scenario is closer than we think, says Chief Innovation Officer Hans Schönfeld who works for the Dutch police. Currently, his team has already done several experiments to test the crime-halting possibilities of autonomous cars. “We wanted to know if we can make them stop or drive them to certain locations,” Schönfeld tells me. “And the result is: yes, we probably can.”

The Dutch police tested Tesla, Audi, Mercedes, and Toyota vehicles, he reports, adding “We do this in collaboration with these car companies because this information is valuable to them, too.

“If we can hack into their cars, others can as well.”

Companies ‘can sack workers for refusing to use fingerprint scanners’

Businesses using fingerprint scanners to monitor their workforce can legally sack employees who refuse to hand over biometric information on privacy grounds, the Fair Work Commission has ruled.

The ruling, which will be appealed, was made in the case of Jeremy Lee, a Queensland sawmill worker who refused to comply with a new fingerprint scanning policy introduced at his work in Imbil, north of the Sunshine Coast, late last year.

Fingerprint scanning was used to monitor the clock-on and clock-off times of about 150 sawmill workers at two sites and was preferred to swipe cards because it prevented workers from fraudulently signing in on behalf of their colleagues to mask absences.

The company, Superior Woods, had no privacy policy covering workers and failed to comply with a requirement to properly notify individuals about how and why their data was being collected and used. The biometric data was stored on servers located off-site, in space leased from a third party.

Lee argued the business had never sought its workers’ consent to use fingerprint scanning, and feared his biometric data would be accessed by unknown groups and individuals.

“I am unwilling to consent to have my fingerprints scanned because I regard my biometric data as personal and private,” Lee wrote to his employer last November.

“Information technology companies gather as much information/data on people as they can.

“Whether they admit to it or not. (See Edward Snowden) Such information is used as currency between corporations.”

Lee was neither antagonistic or belligerent in his refusals, according to evidence before the commission. He simply declined to have his fingerprints scanned and continued using a physical sign-in booklet to record his attendance.

He had not missed a shift in more than three years.

The employer warned him about his stance repeatedly, and claimed the fingerprint scanner did not actually record a fingerprint, but rather “a set of data measurements which is processed via an algorithm”. The employer told Lee there was no way the data could be “converted or used as a finger print”, and would only be used to link to his payroll number to his clock-on and clock-off time. It said the fingerprint scanners were also needed for workplace safety, to accurately identify which workers were on site in the event of an accident.

Lee was given a final warning in January, and responded that he valued his job a “great deal” and wanted to find an alternative way to record his attendance.

“I would love to continue to work for Superior Wood as it is a good, reliable place to work,” he wrote to his employer. “However, I do not consent to my biometric data being taken. The reason for writing this letter is to impress upon you that I am in earnest and hope there is a way we can negotiate a satisfactory outcome.”

Lee was sacked in February, and lodged an unfair dismissal claim in the Fair Work Commission.

He argued he was sacked for failing to comply with an unreasonable direction, because the fingerprint scanning was in breach of Australian privacy laws. His biometric information was sent to a separate corporate entity that was not his employer, Lee argued. His employer had no privacy policy in place at the time, and he argued it had failed to issue a privacy collection notice to its employees, as required by law. Lee argued the company had effectively breached the privacy of its 150 workers twice a day, every day since fingerprint scanning was introduced.

But the unfair dismissal claim failed. The Fair Work Commission found the site attendance policy that Lee had breached was lawful. It found that although the company may have breached privacy laws, the site-attendance policy was not automatically rendered unlawful as it related to Lee.

“While there may have been a breach of the Privacy Act relevant to the notice given to employees, the private and sensitive information was not collected and would never be collected relevant to Mr Lee because of his steadfast refusal,” the commission found. “The policy itself is not unlawful, simply the manner in which the employer went about trying to obtain consent may have constituted a breach of the Privacy Act.”

Lee told Guardian Australia he planned to appeal. He said the ruling implied that Australians only owned their biometric data until an employer demanded it, at which point they could be sacked if they refused to consent.

“My biometric data is inherently mine and inseparable from me,” Lee said. “My employer can’t demand it or sack me for refusing to give it.”

“It’s not about this particular employer. Ownership to me means that I can refuse consent without being sacked.”

NBCUniversal Taps Machine Learning to Tie Ads to Relevant Moments on TV

NBCUniversal announced a new machine learning tool today that helps brands place ads around scenes relevant to their product across any of the media giant’s broadcast and cable properties. The Contextual Intelligence Platform analyzes programming scripts, closed captioning data and visual descriptors of both ads and shows to find opportune moments for a given advertiser to appear as well as an emotional gauge for each scene determined by proprietary algorithms.

Focus groups for ads placed with the platform thus far have shown an average bump of 19 percent in brand memorability, 13 percent in likability and 64 percent in message memorability, according to Josh Feldman, vp and head of marketing and advertising creative, NBCU. The announcement comes as linear television providers continue to grapple with how to bring digital targeting practices to a medium that still largely operates on traditional phone-call media buying and manual ad placements. NBCU is now working with three to five advertisers for the system’s beta-test, and is aiming for an official release date early next year.