Month: July 2015

Brace yourself, AI wars have started

While I was responding to a person on reddit why capchas are so hard nowadays, I realized why Google is moving away from image/sound capchas to the checkbox capcha.

You compete with AI of the spammers. Google must make the capchas hard enough so it is not economically feasible to create accounts on their gmail – that means that the spammer would go away to a more efficient victim, e.g. live or yahoo.

This is bad news, it means that spammer’s AI is smarter than a significant number of people [removed insult].

The likely reason why Google is moving away from old capchas, is that AI is getting too good when compared with humans, and spammer’s AI is no exception.

If Google continues down the path of asking asking users to resolve too many image and sound capchas, one day AI will be so good that few humans will be able to pass them.

To fight spammer’s AI, Google (probably) deployed “checkbox capcha AI” to fight spammer’s AI.

Which means, that we are probably witnessing the first public AI war.

The second war being Gmail fighting spam with AI.

Silence of Engineers working in AI, orders of magnitude more dangerous than AI itself

People start to wonder if AI development should worry them.

Yes, you should be very worried, AI is already a danger to humanity.

But, if you are not in IT, and you don’t work with AI then it is really hard to grasp how and why, I am afraid you are not in luck my friend.

Bleeding-age AI Engineers sign Non Compete Agreements that have very broad language on not “hurting” the employer including “never talk with journalist or we terminate employment” and never post online anything “that might damage employer interests”.

Do your own homework and see how many people work at Facebook and Google alone. Understand that those are the cream of the society, when it comes to IT & AI.

Not only this, but a few Big Techs are buying the future, acquiring in 2013-2015 over 20 of the largest & successful AI/Robotics competitors, including Boston Dynamics. Some people say that a few Big Tech acquired and employed the majority of the AI specialists.

While journalists worry that Google could manipulate election results (if they would want), and Privacy watchdogs filed complaint against Facebook’s emotion manipulation experiments, it is worth noticing that all these, and more, can be done by AI itself without the involvement of some smart ass human, as AI takes over heuristics and optimizations that used to be human’s domain – like optimizing Ads placements for profits and fighting spam.

More than 2 years ago, FTC researchers found evidence of racial bias in Ads, and just this month a group of researchers found that Google’s Ads are gender biased, offering men better jobs Ad opportunities than to women.

Now take a look at the digital citizenship, how many employees from AI companies are active in the social media regarding AI? Only a handful, that are executives, lawyers or developer advocates – all of them representing the corporate voice. Advertising, the new Tobacco, already joined the Denial Industry, and its closely related cousin, Artificial Intelligence Industry, is not that far either.

Unfortunately there is nothing that can be done. Big corps hired too many too smart people. By the time a few researchers figure out the dangers, the damage might be too big.

Things get even more depressing when you think how are researchers paid, and where is their dream job.

Oh, and you know the common wisdom: never, ever, criticize your former employer.

Enjoy the silence, my friend.

Why do we need privacy? What do we have to hide?

This blog post is in response to a Redditor asking this:

So my founder at my startup asked this question and gave examples of when surveillance in the public space, cc tvs in UK, a plane that shot 1 second photos over Ohio allowing for cops to catch a robber etc.

His argument was that we are so attached to privacy but we don’t actually need it in the public space. What could you possibly have to hide when walking down the street? Additionally, its not like someone is maliciously looking into you all the time, its only when necessary.

I countered with our government doesn’t have the oversight to appropriately use these tools and they will be abused. His argument to that was that we should work on fixing that structure, not shoving privacy as the savior of our times. He highlighted that with less privacy / more public surveillance we could stop Amber alerts (missing children) etc.

This guy is an intelligent person (astrophysics from Stanford etc.) and I understand his point in an ideal world, but we seem to only have issues managing this vast amount of private information and there is NO oversight by the casual or active citizen.

Just want to know how I can make my argument that privacy is needed.

Before I start to answer I want to make a distinction between Privacy and Secrecy. I would summarize the contrast between Privacy and Secrecy in this way:

  • Privacy is given by others/us as a sign of respect for people.
  • Secrecy is something you personally ensure for yourself.

Privacy are those rules that govern what, when and how much of data flows, and to what parties. It does not mean that parties ought to keep that data a secret, but they have to respect that contract – the rules governing the flow of data.

Respecting someone’s Privacy only means abiding to those laws. That is all.

It does not mean you are not able to record the activity of some of that public space. It does not mean you have to collaborate with people that want to keep details of their life a secret. It does not mean that the whole public space can’t be under surveillance by one or more parties. It does not mean that if a crime is produced, we can’t access all relevant data connected directly/indirectly with the crime.

Saying that you do not want Privacy, is equal to saying that you don’t what any rules regarding how that data flows. That the data can be accessible to anyone, including but not limited to: any citizen, criminal, law enforcing personal, governmental organizations, including higher centralized federal government – e.g., all data in one place.

I don’t think you will find a Privacy advocate that will argue that public space activity can’t be recorded. They will argue about the rules regarding the recordings.

Your friend makes two mistakes:

  • He thinks that Privacy is actually protecting someone else secrets.
  • He is arguing for centralized, global, un-ruled surveillance.

No one in the right mind wants to “protect someone else secrets”. If you have a secret, you better keep it a secret yourself. The moment is out, no one has to keep it. If it is something illegal, unless the rules of Privacy prohibit us from reporting the issue, any person can (and sometimes must) report the secret to police/authorities.

Regarding “centralized, global, un-ruled surveillance” there is a little bit more to talk about, but I would like to cut it short like this. If we can surveil all public space in a decentralized manner, which BTW will also ensure that the laws of Privacy are respected, and that in a case of a crime, there are parties that in a decentralized manner can provide those details to catch a criminal, why in the world would anyone want centralized surveillance? Why even take the risks associated with centralized surveillance if distributed surveillance, with guaranteed Privacy rips off all the benefits. Why allow anyone to access any data, if such level of access is not actually required for a equally better society?

A smart solution is one that maximizes the benefits, while minimizing the risks.

His argument is that we do not need to minimize the risks, if we maximize the benefits.

Only an anti-social, psychopath, empathy-less person would want that.

Are Privacy, Decentralization, Freedom and User Rights Executives Actively Sabotaged?

Brendan Eich (Mozilla CEO ousted) and Ellen Pao (Former Reddit CEO) share some very interesting traits: They both cared deeply about Freedom, Privacy, User Rights, and they were too mindful about how to make money ethically in the Surveillance Valley.

I have a conspiracy theory: they were sabotaged by the Big Bad Boys, to prevent progress in these areas.

Not to say that they did not had their own faults.

Brendan Eich did donated money to anti-gay activists (I personally disagree with Brendan on the issue, but he apologized), and it was known for 6 years before it was actually a GFO issue.

Ellen Pao did upset users by trying to police the forums a little bit too much. But she was in a very hard place to begin with, and acknowledged her mistakes and was working hard to make reddit a better place.

I will dump here links and a few interesting excepts.

I can elaborate, if anyone wants, with my own comments along the links.

April 2, 2014 7:45 AM

The biggest, buzziest bee in his bonnet right now is privacy.

“I was at this seminar at Harvard on privacy tactics around user data,” he said.”This is important as we’re starting to make smartphones … You’re talking about the ‘API to me.’ How do we keep data from being pulled out and turned into a commodity in someone else’s walled garden?”

While companies such as Apple and Google have a distinct first-mover advantage in the smartphone game, Eich thinks Mozilla has an important ace up its sleeve.

“If we put the user first, unionize them to get very high-scale collective bargaining power against the powers that be, then they can own their own data. … There’s an important turning that’s going to happen over the next five years. If users can stick up for their rights and avoid traps like DRM, there are aspects of user sovereignty that are Mozilla’s to lead.”

Giving users more control, more sovereignty, is something Mozilla “can’t step back from,” Eich said.

On April 3, 2014, Eich stepped down as CEO and resigned from working at Mozilla.

“But that was six years ago when he made his donation!”

I also personally hired Ellen Pao myself. She is a close friend and one of the most capable executives I’ve ever worked with, and I hope she’ll become the permanent CEO.

Others say Reddit’s game plan is not where the advertising market is going. Many big brands are experimenting with buying ads through automated auction platforms, like those offered by Google and Facebook. These companies build profiles of users — age, web browsing habits, sex — and use those demographics to deliver better, more targeted ads.

This is diametrically opposed to Reddit’s refusal to collect users’ personal data.

Exciting times

Why I am excited by the Decentralized, User Controlled, Privacy Aware Advertising Platform we are building?

As long as by decentralization, businesses only have something to lose, they will fight it, or they will ignore it.

If we give businesses something they need – a fair voice thought fair advertising, they will be more friendly with us.

Can the decentralized platform survive without making ALL parties happy: users, businesses (that are advertisers) and publishers (that are the producers of goods)?

So far, the decentralized movement is the field of geeks. We need to change that. And we need to get the support of business to build their business models around decentralized solutions.

The financial future of decentralization seem to be the digital currency.

But the digital currency, does not help with one of the most important needs of a business: advertising, which today is causing rampant surveillance.

What if we would have a Decentralized Platform for Privacy Aware Advertising?

If successful, an additional revenue stream for those providing decentralization and privacy will then exists.

Revenue solves all known problems.