Wednesday, November 13

Worth Knowing

China Expands ‘Emotion Recognition’ AI Despite Expert Skepticism: Emotion recognition systems generated excitement at China’s 2019 Public Security Expo, the Financial Times reported. The technology is being rolled out in Xinjiang as part of crime prediction systems along with facial recognition, gait recognition and eye tracking. The system is meant to predict violent behavior by using AI to identify signs of aggression, nervousness and stress. However, experts have pushed back on such characterizations with studies suggesting that emotion recognition is accurate only 20–30 percent of the time. Despite this, both Chinese companies and U.S. tech giants like Google, Amazon and Microsoft continue to develop emotion recognition systems.
Canada Again Denies Travel Visas to African AI Researchers Attending NeurIPS: For the second year in a row, at least 15 AI researchers and students were denied travel visas to Canada over concerns that they would not return home after attending NeurIPS — a leading AI research conference — and the Black in AI workshop. Last year, Canada denied almost 100 African researchers’ visas for the same reason. ICLR, another top AI conference, will be held in Ethiopia in 2020 in part to avoid similar visa issues.
Reports of U.S. Military’s Extensive Facial Recognition System: The U.S. military maintains an extensive biometrics and facial recognition system with more than 7.4 million identities, according to documents obtained by OneZero. The system, known as the Automated Biometric Information System, stores biometric information on anyone who comes into contact with U.S. military systems abroad, including allied soldiers, with the goal of “denying... adversaries anonymity.” ABIS currently links to state and local law enforcement biometric systems and may eventually integrate with the Department of Homeland Security’s biometric database. While much is still unknown about the system, the use of facial recognition raises privacy and bias concerns given facial recognition’s low accuracy rates for women and minorities.
DeepMind Reaches Grandmaster Level in StarCraft II: DeepMind announced that AlphaStar, its AI designed to play StarCraft II, recently outperformed 99.8% of human players. Unlike the previous version of AlphaStar announced in January, changes were made to level the playing field with humans: AlphaStar now “sees” the board through a camera, is limited to act at human speed and is able to play as any species. The results are comparable to those of OpenAI’s Dota 2 artificial agent, showing the power of reinforcement learning as a training mechanism for complex gameplay environments.
Government Updates

DIB Approves AI Ethics Principles: After a series of roundtables and discussion, the Defense Innovation Board voted unanimously on October 31st to recommend AI Ethics Principles for the DOD, accompanied by a supporting document. The principles, intended for both combat and non-combat systems, state that AI should be responsible, equitable, traceable, reliable and governable. They also recommend a series of next steps, including establishing a DOD-wide steering committee and formalizing the principles within the DOD.

NSCAI Submits Interim Report to Congress: On Nov 4th, the bipartisan National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence released its interim report. The report assesses the challenges and opportunities AI poses for national security, as well as noting concerning trendlines relative to China. The Commission suggests accelerating public investment in AI R&D, applying AI to national security, training and recruiting AI talent, protecting the U.S. technological advantage and encouraging global cooperation. Full recommendations will be made to Congress in a later report.

NSCAI Holds First-Ever Conference: The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence held a conference on the future of AI and national security on November 5th. Notable remarks include:
For more information, check out the videos of the second half of the conference, capped by Jason Matheny interviewing White House CTO Michael Kratsios.

What We’re Reading

Report: Report of Estonia’s AI Taskforce, published by the Republic of Estonia Government Office and the Republic of Estonia Ministry of Economic Affairs and Communications (May 2019)

Report: The Impact of Artificial Intelligence on Strategic Stability and Nuclear Risk, Volume II, East Asian Perspectives, published by the Stockholm International Peace Research Institute and edited by Lora Saalman (October 2019)

Report: Partial Disengagement: A New U.S. Strategy for Economic Competition with China, by Charles W. Boustany and Aaron L. Friedberg for the National Bureau of Asian Research (November 2019)

In Translation
CSET's translations of significant foreign language documents on AI

Taiwan’s Sensitive Science and Technology Protection Bill: General Notes on the Sensitive Science and Technology Protection Bill: Translation of a bill proposed in Taiwan’s parliament that provides for up to seven years in prison or a $1 million fine for leaks of sensitive technology. The bill aims to counter Chinese industrial espionage and reassure U.S. firms that they can conduct R&D in Taiwan without fear of their proprietary technology being disclosed to Chinese competitors.

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