Wednesday April 1, 2020

Worth Knowing

Social Media Companies Use AI For Content Moderation: Google, Facebook and Twitter announced they are relying more heavily on artificial intelligence for content moderation instead of humans due to the coronavirus. Unlike many tech jobs that can be performed at home, content moderation is typically outsourced to contractors who are required to work from the office for privacy reasons. The companies warned that users should expect more errors from the automated systems and longer wait times until someone can investigate any appeals.
Governments Weigh Using Location Data to Combat Coronavirus: Countries around the world are debating the role of cell phone location data in monitoring the spread of COVID-19. The data can be used to track the movement of sick individuals and assess compliance with government shelter-in-place orders. However, experts are divided on what type of data collection and usage is acceptable; some recommend anonymizing and aggregating any data collected. The Wall Street Journal last week reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention are already compiling aggregated location data, primarily from the advertising industry.
ML Community Experiments with Virtual Conferences: Two upcoming gatherings, the International Conference on Learning Representations and the International Conference on Machine Learning, will be held virtually on account of COVID-19, according to the organizers. ICLR reduced their registration fee to $50 for students and $100 for non-students — down from $450 and $550 respectively — and ICML announced that they are planning a similar substantial reduction. Organizers said the machine learning community had already been discussing hybrid or fully virtual conferences to combat climate change — and if these tests succeed, future conferences might shift permanently in that direction.
Government Updates

White House Makes Supercomputers Available for COVID-19 Research: Last week, the White House Office of Science and Technology Policy announced the creation of the COVID-19 High Performance Computing Consortium, which makes supercomputers available to researchers studying the coronavirus. The consortium was coordinated by the Department of Energy and IBM, and includes partners from industry, academia and federal agencies. The Director of the National Science Foundation, France Cordova, said these resources would allow scientists and engineers to pursue “data science, computational modeling and artificial intelligence approaches.” Proposals can be submitted to the consortium via their online portal.

Report on Service Recommends Investing in Tech Skills of Federal Workforce: The Final Report of the National Commission on Military, National, and Public Service recommends assisting federal agencies in hiring, developing and supporting cybersecurity, IT and STEM professionals by increasing funding and launching new programs. According to the report, the federal government has “not invested enough in maintaining and increasing” IT and cybersecurity skills in its workforce. Commissioners propose a range of recommendations to address the situation, including reskilling programs, piloting a Federal Civilian Cybersecurity Reserve, increasing benefit competitiveness and allowing for flexible hours and telework.

Proposal Advances to Restrict Exports to Chip-Makers Supplying Huawei: Cabinet officials reportedly agreed to move forward with plans to limit the export of U.S. chip-making equipment last Wednesday, according to The Wall Street Journal. The restrictions would require foreign chip-makers to obtain a license before using U.S. semiconductor manufacturing equipment to produce chips for Huawei. First considered in February, there were concerns about the limits’ potential impact on U.S. businesses, as covered in a previous edition of

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

Guidelines for China’s AI Pilot Zones: Guidelines for National New Generation AI Innovation and Development Pilot Zone Construction Work. China’s Ministry of Science and Technology issued a notice in 2019 describing a process for establishing AI innovation and development pilot zones in cities with robust AI infrastructure. China planned to create 20 AI pilot zones by 2023; so far, it has established 11 such zones, with four new ones announced in March 2020.

What We’re Reading

Special Issue: AI and Security, VentureBeat (February 2020)

Syllabus: Artificial Intelligence and China, Jeffrey Ding, Sophie-Charlotte Fischer, Brian Tse and Chris Byrd (January 2020)

Report: UK Tech for a Changing World, Tech Nation (March 2020)

Special Report: China’s Defense Budget in Context: How Under-Reporting and Differing Standards and Economies Distort the Picture, The Heritage Foundation (March 2020)

What’s New at CSET


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