Wednesday April 15, 2020

Worth Knowing

Washington State Passes Major Facial Recognition Legislation: Governor Jay Inslee of Washington signed SB 6280 into law, making his state the first to define acceptable government use of facial recognition. Unlike other laws that ban police departments or governments from using the technology, SB 6280 allows restricted facial recognition use; its guidelines seek to provide accountability and limit surveillance. Microsoft lobbied for the legislation, and its main sponsor, state Sen. Joe Nguyen, works at the company. The law is viewed as a possible national template: California, Maryland, South Dakota and Idaho have introduced legislation with parallel language, and Microsoft has expanded its lobbying efforts to additional states.
Megvii Sales Drop After Addition to U.S. Entity List: After being added to the U.S. Entity List in October 2019, Chinese AI company Megvii saw a sharp decline in growth. In the second half of 2019, the company’s revenue grew only 2.7 percent, despite sales tripling in the first half of the year. Its IPO, originally expected to raise between $500 million and $1 billion, has been postponed. The Entity List’s prohibition on U.S. technology exports forced Megvii to pause some operations in order to assess which components of its business violated the blacklist. The company has now launched products to generate new revenue streams, including an AI-enabled temperature detection system to help fight COVID-19.
AI Field Experiences Mixed Impact of Economic Downturn: The number of tech jobs requiring AI skills globally may grow faster than expected due to the pandemic, according to research firm International Data Corporation. The firm estimates 16 percent growth in AI jobs this year — up from the 13.3 percent previously predicted for 2020 — due to anticipated new demand for AI capabilities from healthcare providers, schools and industry. But some AI startups are cutting staff, as seed funding declines and startups undergo layoffs across industries.
Machine Learning Spotlight — Understanding Glass: Researchers at DeepMind are using neural networks to predict the dynamics of glass as it changes between liquid and solid states. The team used graph neural networks to outperform physics-inspired baselines and existing AI models, achieving 64 percent accuracy in predicting particle location for longer timescales — a 40 percent improvement over previous state-of-the-art models — and 96 percent for short timescales. The researchers hope the work will serve as a testbed for applying machine learning to physical models and lead to insights about glass and other complex systems.
Government Updates

NSCAI Releases First Quarter Recommendations: The National Security Commission on Artificial Intelligence published its First Quarter Recommendations on April 1st. The commission proposed doubling non-defense R&D investment in AI to $2 billion for FY2021, strengthening the U.S. government AI workforce through a variety of programs and exemptions, improving cooperation on AI with key allies, and promoting U.S. leadership in microelectronics and 5G. The report also encouraged accelerating AI applications in the Department of Defense through a joint DOD and Office of the Director of National Intelligence steering committee.

JAIC Announces “Responsible AI Champions” for AI Ethics Principles: DOD’s Joint AI Center described its plans to ensure implementation of the DOD AI ethical principles, including launching a cross-functional team of ethics advocates. The “Responsible AI Champions” will be trained in DOD’s newly-adopted Ethical Principles for AI, and will “champion implementation practices,” educate their colleagues and identify new applications for the principles. In addition, the JAIC plans to use their Acquisition & Sustainment process to evaluate how partners are developing technologies for the DOD and has created a DOD-wide Responsible AI Subcommittee to establish a plan for implementing the ethical framework.

DOE Announces Plans to Fund $30M in AI and ML Research: The Department of Energy announced $30 million in funding for two types of research involving AI. The first category, “Scientific Machine Learning for Modeling and Simulations,” allocates $10 million in FY2020 funds for machine learning use in predictive modeling and simulation in physical sciences. In addition, $7 million will fund “AI and Decision Support for Complex Systems,” researching machine learning applications in real-time decision support for systems underpinning cybersecurity and power grid resilience. DOE intends to provide an additional $13 million for machine learning decision support research in future years. Applications for funding are open for the National Laboratories, universities, nonprofits and industry.

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

AI Strategic Advisory Committee: Profiles of Members of China’s New Generation AI Strategic Advisory Committee. On November 15, 2017, China’s Ministry of Science and Technology announced the formation of this committee to advise the government on S&T development plans and projects involving AI. This document summarizes Chinese government and media reporting on the committee and includes a biography of each committee member.

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