USA to expand facial recognition: The Transportation Security Administration (TSA) in the United States is determined to make facial recognition and other biometrics a regular part of the airport experience, and it now has a roadmap for that expansion. The plan focuses on partnering with US Customs and Border Protection (CBP) on biometrics for international travelers, expanding its use to passengers using TSA Precheck, ultimately using facial recognition on more domestic travelers and improving the infrastructure supporting all this. There’s no firm timeline, however, and the roadmap only hints at addressing ethical issues like privacy in later studies. Facial recognition is already in use at airports in Los Angeles and New York, and the TSA has been testing fingerprint technology at Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport since June 2017.
engadget.com, cnet.com, theverge.com
How police can deal with autonomous vehicles: Autonomous vehicle developer Waymo recently published a document to help emergency responders prepare for a future where they would have to interact with self-driving cars. In the report, the company says it is working with safety officials to see how the vehicles interact with ambulances, fire engines and police cars, and how first responders can deal with incidents involving AVs. Law enforcement officers are told to first try the car’s electronic systems for breaking and contacting technical support. But if those don’t work, officers are encouraged to physically cut engine parts and to minimize time in front of vehicle. Waymo also advises law enforcement or emergency services to break a window to unlock a door to shut the car down. The instructional booklet also contains the number for a designated hotline for police, fire department and other first responders to reach Waymo.
thedrive.com, smartcitiesdive.com, cnbc.com
Are robots the better caregivers?: An adorable robot seal that’s meant to help elderly people with dementia is getting some serious recognition. Japanese scientist and artificial intelligence pioneer Takanori Shibata’s creation is called the “Paro” robot. The device has a 32-bit processor, microphones, tactile sensors, and special motors to move his head and fins silently. The robotic seal actively seeks eye contact, becomes more trusting when it receives attention,and withdraws when it is mistreated. The seal responds to the natural human caring instinct, activating pleasant thoughts and feelings in the patient. In Japan, caregiving robots like Asimo have been employed for several years to talk and sing and lead exercises for residents of nursing homes. Digital alternatives are more popular in Europe because of the staff shortage in the care sector. “There will be ever more sophisticated robots in the future, which take on very different tasks in retirement homes”, said business information specialist Oliver Bendel of the University of Applied Sciences Northwestern Switzerland.
spiegel.de, fortune.com, politico.com
Amazon Go is already a reality in China: Amazon Go is planning a supermarket where customers can get all the information about products – such as durability and freshness – on a smartphone, and where they can pay with a smartphone or facial recognition. This isn’t as innovative as it seems: Chinese company Alibaba has already opened stores with a similar format almost 70 different times, with another 2,000 branches expected to go into operation over the next five years. This makes it clear that the digital revolution in food retail is in motion.
Facebook smart speaker may capture conversations for ad targeting: A Facebook spokesman has apparently told “Recode” editor Kurt Wagner that the company does not intend to use data collected with the new Smart Speaker Portal for promotional purposes. Wagner reported this in an article, forcing Facebook to publish a correction. For a video call with the Portal, the same data is collected as when using the Messenger app, for example “user data such as length of call, frequency of calls”. Facebook said Portal is capable of collecting data and using this to target ads, although it did not confirm that these capabilities will be put to use for ad targeting.
NUMBER OF THE WEEK
According to an international survey of 10,000 consumers, 52 percent use IoT devices, but 67 percent of them have experienced performance issues.
Freedom of Information Commissioners demand transparency in administrative AI use: In a position paper, Germany’s Federal and State Freedom of Information Commissioners have demanded that algorithmic decision-making processes in public administration should be clear and comprehensible to everyone. The commissioners also made suggestions for dealing with the technology. For example, they are pushing for strict controls, not just in the processing of personal data, but also in factual data. The technology used must meet high quality standards in order to be used in accordance with fundamental rights.
The lie about robots: When robots are discussing with MPs in the British Parliament, or overcome impressive obstacles in videogames by companies such as Boston Dynamics, the impression could be created that the machines are on the verge of world domination. This is, however, a deceptive image: In both cases, the behavior of the robot was precisely planned and controlled via a smartphone. The founder of former Google subsidiary Boston Dynamics recently admitted that the acclaimed footage showed the “best possible behavior”. The robots are remotely controlled and still require up to twenty tries to succeed.
PROJECT OF THE WEEK
Smart coffee mug with iPhone connection: It isn’t every day that a coffee mug becomes one of “Time” magazine’s inventions of the year. But that’s exactly what happened with the Ember smart mug, a drink receptacle which uses high tech thermal technology to maintain coffee or tea at its users’ perfect drinking temperature. To do this, the Ember Mug utilizes some of the smart tech that it already uses to estimate volume. Using this smart sensor data it can then tell how many cups of Joe you’re downing each day, and send this information to the Health app. The company claims that this will work with Apple Health’s sleep- and heart rate-tracking apps to detect any correlation between the intake of coffee and those health vectors.
“I hate them.”
Alphabet’s self-driving cars are said to be annoying their neighbors in Arizona, where Waymo has been testing its vehicles for the last year.
Hacker secured routers without permission: A Russian hacker is in the news these days because of his penchant for breaking into people’s routers. The hacker goes by the name “Alexey” online and his mission is simply to break into routers and install a patch that will acutally help protect them from potential hacker attacks. He adds a firewall that blocks access from outside the local network. Alexey says he’s a server administrator who has already fixed more than 100,000 faulty MikroTik routers. Upon improving the routers’ security, he writes in the comments about the vulnerability he fixed as well as the address of the Telegram channel that can be used to contact him with questions.