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AI To Recognize Individuals Emotions Using A Photographic Repository

Not for police, government

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Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, is pictured in Boston, April 23, 2018. Affectiva builds face-scanning technology for detecting emotions, but its founders decline business opportunities that involve spying on people.
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, is pictured in Boston, April 23, 2018. Affectiva builds face-scanning technology for detecting emotions, but its founders decline business opportunities that involve spying on people. VOA

When a CIA-backed venture capital fund took an interest in Rana el Kaliouby’s face-scanning technology for detecting emotions, the computer scientist and her colleagues did some soul-searching — and then turned down the money.

“We’re not interested in applications where you’re spying on people,” said el Kaliouby, the CEO and co-founder of the Boston startup Affectiva. The company has trained its artificial intelligence systems to recognize if individuals are happy or sad, tired or angry, using a photographic repository of more than 6 million faces.

Recent advances in AI-powered computer vision have accelerated the race for self-driving cars and powered the increasingly sophisticated photo-tagging features found on Facebook and Google. But as these prying AI “eyes” find new applications in store checkout lines, police body cameras and war zones, the tech companies developing them are struggling to balance business opportunities with difficult moral decisions that could turn off customers or their own workers.

El Kaliouby said it’s not hard to imagine using real-time face recognition to pick up on dishonesty — or, in the hands of an authoritarian regime, to monitor reaction to political speech in order to root out dissent. But the small firm, which spun off from a Massachusetts Institute of Technology research lab, has set limits on what it will do.

The company has shunned “any security, airport, even lie-detection stuff,” el Kaliouby said. Instead, Affectiva has partnered with automakers trying to help tired-looking drivers stay awake, and with consumer brands that want to know whether people respond to a product with joy or disgust.

Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company's facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018.
Rana el Kaliouby, CEO of the Boston-based artificial intelligence firm Affectiva, demonstrates the company’s facial recognition technology, in Boston, April 23, 2018. VOA

New qualms

Such queasiness reflects new qualms about the capabilities and possible abuses of all-seeing, always-watching AI camera systems — even as authorities are growing more eager to use them.

In the immediate aftermath of Thursday’s deadly shooting at a newspaper in Annapolis, Maryland, police said they turned to face recognition to identify the uncooperative suspect. They did so by tapping a state database that includes mug shots of past arrestees and, more controversially, everyone who registered for a Maryland driver’s license.

Initial information given to law enforcement authorities said that police had turned to facial recognition because the suspect had damaged his fingerprints in an apparent attempt to avoid identification. That report turned out to be incorrect and police said they used facial recognition because of delays in getting fingerprint identification.

In June, Orlando International Airport announced plans to require face-identification scans of passengers on all arriving and departing international flights by the end of this year. Several other U.S. airports have already been using such scans for some departing international flights.

Chinese firms and municipalities are already using intelligent cameras to shame jaywalkers in real time and to surveil ethnic minorities, subjecting some to detention and political indoctrination. Closer to home, the overhead cameras and sensors in Amazon’s new cashier-less store in Seattle aim to make shoplifting obsolete by tracking every item shoppers pick up and put back down.

Concerns over the technology can shake even the largest tech firms. Google, for instance, recently said it will exit a defense contract after employees protested the military application of the company’s AI technology. The work involved computer analysis of drone video footage from Iraq and other conflict zones.

Google guidelines

Similar concerns about government contracts have stirred up internal discord at Amazon and Microsoft. Google has since published AI guidelines emphasizing uses that are “socially beneficial” and that avoid “unfair bias.”

Amazon, however, has so far deflected growing pressure from employees and privacy advocates to halt Rekognition, a powerful face-recognition tool it sells to police departments and other government agencies.

Saying no to some work, of course, usually means someone else will do it. The drone-footage project involving Google, dubbed Project Maven, aimed to speed the job of looking for “patterns of life, things that are suspicious, indications of potential attacks,” said Robert Work, a former top Pentagon official who launched the project in 2017.

While it hurts to lose Google because they are “very, very good at it,” Work said, other companies will continue those efforts.

Commercial and government interest in computer vision has exploded since breakthroughs earlier in this decade using a brain-like “neural network” to recognize objects in images. Training computers to identify cats in YouTube videos was an early challenge in 2012. Now, Google has a smartphone app that can tell you which breed.

A major research meeting — the annual Conference on Computer Vision and Pattern Recognition, held in Salt Lake City in June — has transformed from a sleepy academic gathering of “nerdy people” to a gold rush business expo attracting big companies and government agencies, said Michael Brown, a computer scientist at Toronto’s York University and a conference organizer.

Brown said researchers have been offered high-paying jobs on the spot. But few of the thousands of technical papers submitted to the meeting address broader public concerns about privacy, bias or other ethical dilemmas. “We’re probably not having as much discussion as we should,” he said.

Not for police, government

Startups are forging their own paths. Brian Brackeen, the CEO of Miami-based facial recognition software company Kairos, has set a blanket policy against selling the technology to law enforcement or for government surveillance, arguing in a recent essay that it “opens the door for gross misconduct by the morally corrupt.”

Boston-based startup Neurala, by contrast, is building software for Motorola that will help police-worn body cameras find a person in a crowd based on what they’re wearing and what they look like. CEO Max Versace said that “AI is a mirror of the society,” so the company chooses only principled partners.

Also read: Thanks To Artificial Intelligence, Radio Journalist Regains His Voice

“We are not part of that totalitarian, Orwellian scheme,” he said. (VOA)

Next Story

HONOR 20: Great Design and Camera Steal the Show (Tech Review)

Conclusion: The HONOR 20 fits the bill when it comes to living up to the standards of a flagship features on a budget. A capable camera, good battery backup and overall performance makes it a great buy

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FILE - A member of the media tries out new Huawei Honor 20 series of phones following their global launch in London, UK, May 21, 2019. VOA

By Krishna SinhaChaudhury

Chinese smartphone giant Huawei and its sub-brand HONOR have been putting up a brave fight against the ban imposed by the US. The handset player confirmed rolling out the next upgrade to Android OS “Android Q” for several of its devices last week that includes the newly-launched HONOR 20 series and Huawei’s flagship P30 Pro.

Huawei captured a double-digit share in the highly-concentrated premium market in the first quarter (Q1) of 2019 on the back of impeccable camera quality, Artificial Intelligence (AI) technology and superior-build quality of its flagship mate and P series that drove the growth, according to Counterpoint Research.

Its sub-brand’s HONOR 20 was launched alongside the premium HONOR 20 Pro and HONOR 20i which has relatively toned down specs than the other two devices in the series.

The HONOR 20 features top-line specs, including the proprietary Kirin 980 chipset (which fuels the flagship P30 Pro) alongside 6GB RAM and 128GB storage space for Rs 32,999. After using the smartphone for a few days, here is what we think of it.

The glass rear looked beautiful when it caught light; however, there wasn’t much difference between the Pro and the HONOR 20, albeit for the fact that the latter houses a smaller 3,750mAh battery than HONOR 20 Pro.

There’s a 6.2-inch screen with a punch hole selfie camera instead of a conventional notch. The front and rear are both glossy with an aluminium frame. The device feels comfortable, enough for single-handed use.

A refreshing change is the fingerprint scanner that’s placed on the side of the phone.

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Honor consists of the first in class dual camera with 16MP+2MP rear lens and 8MP front lens. Flickr

Camera performance was one of the high points of the device that makes use of 48MP primary sensor with a 16MP ultra wide lens, a dedicated depth-sensing lens and 2MP macro unit.

The camera picks up enough details on the subject with good dynamic range. It beat the beats out the OnePlus 7 Pro’s camera in terms of colour and saturation.

While shooting in low light, the camera used “Night mode” which is works like Google’s Night Sight that is use of software to brighten up the picture taken at night.

The 32MP selfie camera produced detailed and vivid portraits.

Also Read: Just 8.7 Per cent of Homes in South Asia Have an IoT Device

For those accustomed to the company’s proprietary EMUI OS (based on Android) it won’t be a problem but fans of vanilla Android (Google Pixel) or OxygenOS (found in OnePlus phones) may find the software somewhat overwhelming.

The rear camera bump made the device wobbly when placed on a flat surface. The absence of water resistance was another disappointment.

Conclusion: The HONOR 20 fits the bill when it comes to living up to the standards of a flagship features on a budget. A capable camera, good battery backup and overall performance makes it a great buy. (IANS)