United Kingdom

UK report urges action to combat AI bias

The need for diverse development teams and truly representational data-sets to avoid biases being baked into AI algorithms is one of the core recommendations in a lengthy Lords committee report looking into the economic, ethical and social implications of artificial intelligence, and published today by the upper House of the UK parliament. “The main ways to address these kinds of biases are to ensure that developers are drawn from diverse gender, ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds, and are aware of, and adhere to, ethical codes of conduct,” the committee writes, chiming with plenty of extant commentary around algorithmic accountability. “It is essential that ethics take centre stage in AI’s development and use,” adds committee chairman, Lord Clement-Jones, in a statement. “The UK has a ...

How Facebook gives an asymmetric advantage to negative messaging

Andrew Keen Contributor Andrew Keen is the author of three books: Cult of the Amateur, Digital Vertigo and The Internet Is Not The Answer. He produces Futurecast, and is the host of Keen On. More posts by this contributor Facebook co-founder says its rise reveals the fault lines destroying the “American Dream” 2018 might be Amazon’s year to take a leading role in online advertising [embedded content] Few Facebook critics are as credible as Roger McNamee, the managing partner at Elevation Partners. As an early investor in Facebook, McNamee was only only a mentor to Mark Zuckerberg but also introduce him to Sheryl Sandberg. So it’s hard to underestimate the significance of McNamee’s increasingly public criticism of Facebook over the last couple of years, particularly in the light of the grow...

Regulators in the UK are also calling for more hearings into Facebook and Cambridge Analytica

As more details emerge about Cambridge Analytica’s use of Facebook data in the U.S. presidential election, members of Parliament in the UK are joining congressional leadership in the U.S. to call for a deeper investigation and potential regulatory action. The Chair of parliamentary committee investigating “fake news”, the conservative MP Damian Collins, accused both Cambridge Analytica and Facebook of misleading his committee’s investigation in a statement early Sunday morning indicating that both companies would be called in for more questioning. “Alexander Nix denied to the Committee last month that his company had received any data from the Global Science Research company (GSR). From the evidence that has been published by The Guardian and The Observer this weekend, it seems clear that ...

UK watchdog wants disclosure rules for political ads on social media

The UK’s data protection agency will push for increased transparency into how personal data flows between digital platforms to ensure people being targeted for political advertising are able to understand why and how it is happening. Information commissioner Elizabeth Deham said visibility into ad targeting systems is needed so that people can exercise their rights — such as withdrawing consent to their personal data being processed should they wish. “Data protection is not a back-room, back-office issue anymore,” she said yesterday. “It is right at the centre of these debates about our democracy, the impact of social media on our lives and the need for these companies to step up and take their responsibilities seriously.” “What I am going to suggest is that there needs to be transparency ...

UK kicks off driverless car law review to get tech on the road by 2021

In 2021 the UK government intends the country to be well on its way to a driverless future. No, not a cheap joke about Brexit — yesterday it announced a three-year regulatory review to “pave the way for self-driving cars”. This follows the budget, in November, when the government announced a tranche of funding for technology innovations — including AI and driverless cars — and said it wants to establish a looser framework for testing self-driving vehicles “without a safety operator” with the stated aim of getting driverless cars on the roads by 2021. The law review meshes with that goal, though the government is clearly giving itself a very tight timetable for resolving regulatory complications and passing the necessary legislation. The myriad technological challenges of ensuring autonomou...

Cryptojacking attack hits ~4,000 websites, including UK’s data watchdog

At first glance a CoinHive crypto miner being served by a website whose URL contains the string ‘ICO’ might not seem so strange. But when you know that ICO in this case stands for the UK’s Information Commissioner’s Office — aka the national data protection and privacy watchdog, whose URL (https://ico.org.uk) predates both Bitcoin and the current craze for token sales — well, the extent of the cryptojacking security snafu quickly becomes apparent. Nor is the ICO the only website or government website caught serving cryptocurrency mining malware to visitors on every page they visited. Thousands of sites were compromised via the same plugin. Security researcher Scott Helme flagged the issue via Twitter yesterday, having been initially alerted by another security professional, Ian Trump. Helm...

Twitter accused of dodging Brexit botnet questions again

Once again Twitter stands accused of dodging questions from a parliamentary committee that’s investigating Russian bot activity during the UK’s 2016 Brexit referendum. In a letter sent yesterday to Twitter CEO Jack Dorsey, DCMS committee chair Damian Collins writes: “I’m afraid there are outstanding questions… that Twitter have not yet answered, and some further ones that come from your most recent letter.” In Twitter’s letter — sent last Friday — the company says it has now conducted an analysis of a dataset underpinning a City University study from last October (which had identified a ~13,500-strong botnet of fake Twitter accounts that had tweeted extensively about the Brexit referendum and vanished shortly after the vote). And it says that 1% of these accounts were “registered in Russia...

UK to set up security unit to combat state disinformation campaigns

The UK government has announced plans to set up a dedicated national security unit to combat state-led disinformation campaigns — raising questions about how broad its ‘fake news’ bullseye will be. Last November UK prime minister Theresa May publicly accused Russia of seeking to meddle in elections by weaponizing information and spreading fake news online. “The UK will do what is necessary to protect ourselves, and work with our allies to do likewise,” she said in her speech at the time. The new unit is intended to tackle what the PM’s spokesperson described in comments yesterday as the “interconnected complex challenges” of “fake news and competing narratives”. The decision to set it up was taken after a meeting this week of the National Security Council — a Cabinet committee tasked with ...

Facebook expands ‘Community Boost’ digital skills training program to Europe

Facebook has announced it’s expanding a free training program that teaches Internet-skills, media literacy and online safety to Europe. It says its “ambition” is to train 300,000 people across six EU countries by 2020 — specifically in the UK, Germany, France, Spain, Italy and Poland. It also says it will be opening “digital learning centers” in three of the countries — Spain, Italy, and Poland — as part of the program (though it’s not yet clear where exactly the three centers will be located). The company says the training will generally be offered to “underrepresented groups”. It’s not entirely clear what that means but Facebook points to a Berlin school it set up last year, in partnership with the ReDI School of Digital Integration, which teaches classes ­such as coding and professional...

Uber announces “safety” cap on UK driver hours

 Uber has confirmed it will cap the amount of hours drivers on its platform in the UK can be logged in to accept trips. After ten hours the new policy will require drivers take an uninterrupted six hour break before they can log back into the app again. Read More

UK eyeing ‘extremism’ tax on social media giants

The UK government has kicked off the new year with another warning shot across the bows of social media giants. In an interview with the Sunday Times newspaper, security minister Ben Wallace hit out at tech platforms like Facebook and Google, dubbing such companies “ruthless profiteers” and saying they are doing too little to help the government combat online extremism and terrorism despite hateful messages spreading via their platforms. “We should stop pretending that because they sit on beanbags in T-shirts they are not ruthless profiteers. They will ruthlessly sell our details to loans and soft-porn companies but not give it to our democratically elected government,” he said. Wallace suggested the government is considering a tax on tech firms to cover the rising costs of policing relate...

YouTube: More AI can fix AI-generated “bubbles of hate”

 Facebook, YouTube and Twitter faced another online hate crime grilling today by UK parliamentarians visibly frustrated at their continued failures to apply their own community guidelines and take down reported hate speech. Read More

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