Category Archives: Aaron Swartz Day 2018

DJ Spooky’s Introduction to Oscar Micheaux’s “Body and Soul” at SF MOMA

DJ Spooky will be speaking and performing at this year’s Aaron Swartz Day & International Hackathon Evening Event, in San Francisco, Saturday, November 10, 2018, 8pm.   TICKETS

DJ Spooky Looks Deeper Into the Films of Cinema Pioneer Oscar Micheaux

DJ Spooky at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 12, 2018.

From the transcription of DJ Spooky’s introduction for “Body and Soul,” by Lisa Rein for Mondo 2000:

So, Oscar Micheaux was infuriated by Birth of a Nation, and so was the NAACP. What ended up happening is that they protested it, and created a whole dynamic where they would have almost riots and controversy. They actually invented the term “blockbuster” – because people would line up around the block to see the film.

There’s a lot of legacy in Oscar Micheaux because he ended up responding against Birth of a Nation by making his own film. His most famous film is In Our Gates…

In this weird Trump Dystopian Bizarre Feverish Lunatic Dream of White Supremacy that we’re kind of trying to deprogram out of, these kinds of films, and these kinds of gatherings, are where people from different perspectives, races, classes, come together and think: “How does cinema change our vision of things?”

– DJ Spooky, during his introduction for “Body and Soul,” at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, July 12, 2018.

TICKETS

Interview with Danielle Robinson from the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society

Danielle Robinson will be presenting at the Sixth Annual Aaron Swartz Day & International Hackathon in San Francisco, on Saturday November 10, 2018) and also that night, during our Saturday Evening Event, where she and Karissa McKelvey will explain why the distributed web is so important.

TICKETS ($35) (Email aaronswartzday@gmail.com for discount information.)

Saturday Schedule & Evening Event Projects To Hack On Regular & Discount Tickets Here

Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 2: Danielle Robinson From the Dat Project and Code for Science & Society

By Lisa Rein for Mondo 2000.

From the article:

I’m a believer in the potential of P2P technologies and the decentralized web to change the way knowledge is disseminated. I consider open science/scholarship to include equity, justice, and opening the profession of scholarship to historically marginalized communities. Building offline-friendly tools, baking in free access, and creating decentralized communities can help open the profession of research and scholarship. A personal goal is to build systems that provide free access to knowledge.

Working with the open access movement via OpenCon, the Code for Science & Society community, and projects like Dat, ScienceFair, and the decentralized data sharing project – I am privileged to wake up everyday and work towards that goal…

Like many people, I felt Aaron’s actions were justified and in line with the spirit of science and research. While the actions of MIT, JSTOR, and the federal government appeared to be motivated by a desire to restrict access to academic work for the protection of moneyed interests. This was the first time I’d heard about the open access movement and first exposure of activism around academic issues. I saw that the problematic incentive structure I experienced in my lab were part of a much larger issue that impacted global access to knowledge. Aaron’s writing on open access inspired me, in part because he focused on what a person could do today.

As a graduate student at a US institution, I was in a relatively privileged position to impact the system. I was inspired to find the community of scholars and activists working on open access issues around the world. I found my local open access community though Robin Champieux at my home institution’s library, got involved in the OpenCon and Mozilla Science communities, and found the way to put my disillusionment to work…

It’s hard for me to consider his work without thinking about his death. Although there is nothing I can say about his death that is new or insightful. Any suicide leaves pain, sadness, and questions unanswered. It’s a reminder that life is messy, and messed up, and often too short. I’ve also struggled with depression. Who hasn’t? I got treatment at a critical point after the birth of my son. Depression isn’t rational. It’s deeply irrational. My personal goal is to be honest about my own experiences and try to support my colleagues and friends (and myself) to do work that (hopefully) matters in a world that doesn’t make sense…

Sadly my PhD advisor is not an open access believer, so until my paper is out of review my dissertation is under embargo (until March 2020), which drives me nuts.

To give you more context regarding my dissertation being embargoed: I understand the incentives that lead my PhD advisor to prefer to keep unpublished work, such as what’s contained in a dissertation, under wraps. I get it. But I think it’s the wrong path for science, in the big picture. It’s also personally frustrating to me, as I know how long it took to get some of those protocols working and I’d prefer preprints or the dissertation to be freely available. I want to save some other researcher that time.

Looking at the field today, open access, preprints, and other approaches to make research freely available are becoming the norm in neuroscience research. It’s a huge change from when I started my degree in 2011. The work isn’t done, and the embargoed dissertation illustrates that for me (on a very personal level).

 

DJ Spooky’s Talk and Performance From the Creative Commons Launch in 2002

TICKETS

Aaron Swartz Day 2018: The Inside Story – Part 1: DJ Spooky At The Creative Commons Launch (2002)

Complete Transcription, Video, and “Trailer” of “Rebirth of a Nation”

DJ Spooky at the Creative Commons Launch, in San Francisco, December 2002. He is holding up an “Ad busters” flag.

From the transcription, DJ Spooky, Creative Commons Launch, 2002:

To make a long story short, when they asked me to do a piece for this, I was thinking about it. I am in the middle of about three different projects. One of them is “Birth of a Nation” I am remixing that. It’s an early D.W. Griffith film. And many copyrighted works that are pre-1920 are still accessible. The film makes kind of a statement about the ownership of culture, and of course, about ownership of memory. Collective memory.

So that’s the project that’s going to be associated with Creative Commons. What I’d like to do is show a snippet of it. I presented an early work in progress of it at the Castro Theater.

Essentially whenever you hear something and the idea is made, it’s always a sense of playing with memory. What I’m fascinated with in the Eldred case, is the idea of who controls memory. How can you recall an image or a sound that’s essentially part of a collective unconscious. How we think of things that just go through your mind every day and how you externalize that. That’s what DJing is about. It’s playfulness. It’s reverence for controlled memory. Reverence for the found object.

So essentially, that’s what DJing has become. It’s almost a basic fabric; part of the the fabric of contemporary culture. So, there’s that kind of thing, which to me it becomes kind of what I like to call 21st century – a new form of folk music or folk culture…

these issues, always migrate. You control one thing, the net will thread its way around it. And so on and so on.

That sense of control, one of the terms Larry always uses a lot, in his great book “The Future of Ideas” – if you haven’t read it yet; you should – is the idea of “creative co-authorship.” Being able to actually reach into a text and reconfigure it. And if there’s something we’ve seen throughout the 21st century, whether you are looking at the outside of things, or the underground or overground, it’s that sense of; whether you are looking at William S. Burroughs or the Jack Kerouac and the beats in the 50s, or the Dada scene in the 20s, or the early cinema people working with that, is that America has always been the place of “the mix.” But somehow, I think in the 19th century we were a net importer of intellectual property, whereas after a certain point we became a net exporter, and that’s when all these kinds of control issues come up.

Early Bird Passes Now Available For This Year’s San Francisco Event

New! Saturday’s Hackathon Schedule!

(From left to right) (Top Row) Aaron Swartz, Cindy Cohn, Brewster Kahle, (Bottom row) Barrett Brown, DJ Spooky

Get your “Early Bird All Access Pass” Here

After Tuesday August 14th at Midnight, Get your Tickets here

These Early Bird Passes are only available until midnight on August 15th.

Hello everyone in Aaron Swartz Day-land. We are expecting a full house this year for our San Francisco Hackathon and subsequent Reception & Evening Event. This will be our largest event to date, and many of our speakers are flying in from out of town.

For these reasons, in order to supplement our finances for this year’s grand extravaganza, we have decided to sell some “Early Bird All Access” Passes.

So, until midnight on August 15th, you can buy an “Early Bird All Access Pass” for only $20! (For up to 100 passes, while they last.)

Each “Early Bird All Access Pass” Includes:

1) Admission to both days of the Hackathon ($25 value) (Don’t panic. No one will be turned away for lack of funds. See the note at the bottom of this announcement :)

2) Admission to Reception and Evening Event ($50 Value)

3) Admission to After Party – 10:30 pm-2am ($20 Value)Location TBD

8pm – Evening Event – Special Guests Speaking or Performing (or both):

DJ Spooky (Multimedia Artist, DJ/Musician, Author, Historian, Educator)

Barrett Brown (Author of the upcoming book: My Glorious Defeats: Hacktivist, Narcissist, Anonymous: A Memoir, Pursuance Project, Journalist, Former Political Prisoner)

Lisa Rein (Aaron Swartz Day, Creative Commons, The Swartz-Manning VR Destination, ASD Police Surveillance Project, ASD Solar Survival Project)

Daniel Rigmaiden (Cell Phone Surveillance Expert, Exposed Stingray to the Public)

Cindy Cohn (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Brewster Kahle (Internet Archive)

Steve Phillips (Pursuance Project, Noisebridge)

Mek Karpeles (Open Library, Internet Archive)

Plus More Special Guests – We will be making daily updates here!

HACKATHON INFORMATION:

Saturday & Sunday – 10am – 6pm

New This Year: On site VR, Robotics & 3-D Printing Demonstrations.

Hackathon Speakers Confirmed So Far (Many more coming):

Barrett Brown (Author of the upcoming book: My Glorious Defeats: Hacktivist, Narcissist, Anonymous: A Memoir, Pursuance Project, Journalist, Former Political Prisoner)

Steve Phillips (Pursuance Project, Noisebridge)

Cyrus Farivar (Author of “Habeus Data,” Technology Journalist, & Radio Producer)

Daniel Rigmaiden (Cell Phone Surveillance Expert, Exposed Stingray to the Public)

Tracey Jaquith (Internet Archive)

Tracy Rosenberg (Oakland Privacy.net, Media Alliance)

Dave Maass (Electronic Frontier Foundation)

Matteo Borri (Robots Everywhere LLC, NASA (Mars Rover Contractor), ASD Solar Survival Project)

Lisa Rein (Aaron Swartz Day, Creative Commons, The Swartz-Manning VR Destination, ASD Police Surveillance Project, ASD Solar Survival Project)

Mek Karpeles (Open Library, Internet Archive)

Get your “Early Bird All Access Pass” Here

After Tuesday, August 14th at Midnight, TICKETS HERE

Above: Lisa Rein and Barrett Brown at San Francisco’s Noisebridge Hackerspace.

As always, please write aaronswartzday@gmail.com if you need a free ticket. There are student discounts too, but you need to write us first to get the code.

 

Progress Report: The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery and Fun House

Updated May 30, 2018

By Lisa Rein

From “The History of Aaron Swartz Day” Museum/Art Gallery Installation. By Lisa Rein, Ryan Sternlicht, Bernice Chua, Alex Peake, Tracey Jaquith & Matteo Borri. Border Artwork: Kenneth Bryan Smith. Pixelated Aaron Artwork: Ryan Junell.

At the end of last year’s annual event (Fifth Annual Aaron Swartz Day – 2017) we decided collectively to keep the momentum going on all of our hackathon projects. Some of us had experimented with VR that weekend, and a group of us decided to keep going with our VR project.

As a result, a small team (Ryan Sternlicht, Bernice Chua, Alex Peake, Tracey Jaquith, Matteo Borri, Kenneth Bryan Smith & Ryan Junell) has been working closely with me on the first exhibit of what will be “The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House.”

We are building everything using the Unity gaming engine, and incorporating 3D art, gaming, history, and storytelling into an interactive virtual reality environment.

We will teach history and technology, while helping folks get acquainted with the basics of being in a Virtual Reality environment. We can help “newbies” get acquainted with VR, while providing entertaining and educational content.

Our hope is to become a premiere location – for artists, historians, educators and VR newbies, as VR gradually becomes more popular and enters into the mainstream – by providing an accessible, educational VR destination, and development platform, that can serve as an example to others.

The Swartz-Manning’s first exhibit will provide a detailed history of Aaron Swartz Day, including the story of how I worked with the Aaron Swartz Day community to provide friendship and support to Chelsea Manning, before she was released from military prison, in May 2017.

Noah Swartz (Aaron’s Brother) and his letter to Chelsea Manning, July 2016. From “The History of Aaron Swartz Day” Museum/Art Gallery Installation. By Lisa Rein, Ryan Sternlicht, Bernice Chua, Alex Peake, Tracey Jaquith & Matteo Borri. Border Art: Kenneth Bryan Smith.

The second set of exhibits, displayed in their own “Leary Wing” of the museum, will eventually provide a complete timeline of Dr. Timothy Leary’s life, starting with his birth in 1920. For these exhibits, we are collaborating directly with Dr. Leary’s son, Zach Leary and his Personal Archivist, Michael Horowitz.

From the “Folsom Prison Dr. Timothy Installation” By Lisa Rein, Ryan Sternlicht, Bernice Chua, Alex Peake, Tracey Jaquith & Matteo Borri. Floor Artwork: Kenneth Bryan Smith.

There will be numerous other museum and art gallery exhibits to follow, including historical artifacts such as letters, photographs, and audio/video recordings, merged with artistic installations; paintings you can step into and walk around in, to re-creations of historical rooms and locations, journals you can read through, so you can peer into the minds and thoughts of these three inspirational icons.

The Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House will include four different types of installations:

1) A “traditional” kind of museum, in Virtual Reality.

“Traditional” museum exhibits (essentially, artifacts presented on walls and displays). (It seems kind of like a waste of VR to us, but we can do it, easily, and there seems to be a demand for it :-)

2) A “Fun House” version of the museum’s archival content.

The Fun House is a VR game that teaches about history while you wander around in different environments made up of the the same art and historical artifacts as the traditional version, all woven into a game, using animations and visually stimulating content and characters to create an ever-expanding game-like learning environment.

You can explore completely anonymously, or keep track of your trip, and share with others as a “flashback.” There is literally a trivia game that can be played with the “TimBot” robot character, or the player can watch videos, look through pictures, or just keep walking around looking at stuff in the house.

3) Art Gallery Installations, Platform & Templates to enable artists to create their own VR worlds.

An experimental Art Gallery platform and installations with “educational zones.” This Art Gallery platform will provide templates to enable artists to exhibit their own creations in VR easily. Artists may wish to exhibit in our gallery or greate a gallery of their own and we encourage derivative galleries – and make our templates freely available for use under a Creative Commons license.

Users can frequent our “Educational Zones” to learn how to quickly build their own VR spaces using CAD templates.These educational areas will explain and teach how the museum itself was built, step-by-step. (Complete with CAD templates.)

4) Learning Maker Technolgies and “Solar Survival” Technologies. (Coming Soon, Solarsurvival.net)

A focus on teaching “Solar Survival Technologies” – using VR and special inventions by our team members, to help teach folks that might be temporarily homeless (after a natural disaster, or just from being displaced) how to build devices such as solar cell phone chargers, or a freshly-invented “Vampire Charger,” that actually enables a cell phone to be charged safely from whatever random batteries happen to be lying around after a disaster, while protecting the phone from blowing up from a sudden power burst – for use by the homeless or after a natural disaster. (Technology courtesy of Advisory Board member Matteo Borri, who has just built a chlorophyll detector for NASA’s next MARS rover-like robot.)

We will most likely make the project available for download from the Internet Archive, and will have versions running on all platforms. Ideally, we will have multiple implementations going at first, while we conduct user testing and build out the first version of a framework.

Dr. Timothy Leary, Chelsea Manning and Aaron Swartz have more in common than you might think. All three of these people risked their freedom and their lives to make a positive difference in the world (whether they realized it at the time, or not :-) We will tell these stories, and others, while also creating an experimental art and teaching everyone VR development basics.

We are also experimenting with photogrammetry and 3D scanners, to construct 3-D models of many interesting objects from several historical archives, and also locations in nature, such as the desert.

The goal is to use a 3D scanner for some objects, and use photogrammetry “in the wild” for taking pictures of living objects. (I have a team member in the Imperial Desert, for instance, capturing wild flowers and insects there.) We are looking to partner with 3-D scanning companies and VR haptics companies, and various hardware accessory companies of all kinds. (Contact: Lisa Rein: lisa[at]lisarein.com)

I am also collaborating on the project on Tuesday nights with the folks at the Gamebridge Unityversity Meetup at Noisebridge in San Francisco, on Tuesday evenings.

See you there, if you’d like to learn more or contribute. Or email lisa[at]lisarein.com.

Thanks for taking a look and giving me your ideas.

Lisa Rein
Founder, The Swartz-Manning Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House

Lisa Rein, Founder, Swartz-Manning VR Museum, Art Gallery, and Fun House, Co-founder of Aaron Swartz Day, Chelsea Manning’s Archivist, Co-founder, Creative Commons
(Photo: Kevin Footer – Art Design/Concept: Kenneth Bryan Smith)

 

 

ACLU: Amazon Needs To Get Out Of The Surveillance Business

“But wait,” you may start to say “I didn’t even know Amazon was even IN the surveillance business.”

Yeah. Neither did we. :-/

This is pretty much our worst fears realized: A huge corporation quietly implementing biased facial recognition software without any oversight from anyone.

Needless to say, this situation falls under the territory of our #EthicalAlgorithms mandate.

Here’s an ACLU Petition with links to more information:

Amazon: Get out of the surveillance business

(https://action.aclu.org/petition/amazon-stop-selling-surveillance)

We are still evaluating the documents and will be planning a specific strategy to deal with this situation – Aaron Swartz Day style :-

We have been making enormous progress on the Aaron Swartz Day Police Surveillance Project – which is a 100% successful experiment done in collaboration with the EFF, Oakland Privacy.net, cell phone privacy expert Daniel Rigmaiden and wonderful Muckrock.

The project provides letter templates to make it easy to ask your local police and sherriff’s departments what surveillance equipment they may have already purchased; they have to give you receipts and contracts if you guess correctly. (It’s like a little game show.)

So we are still in catch up mode at this time – but we are on the case. And we have many experts and technologists working to explain and expose the truth, before it’s too late.

If we can’t stop it from being implemented in the short term, perhaps we can develop technologies to stop it from functioning properly. While we are working out these issues in the courts, there is nothing saying we can’t share information and take defensive action. If you know techniques that folks should know about, email us at aaronswartzday [@] gmail.com

More on the situation from the New York Times.

New York Times: Amazon Pushes Facial Recognition to Police.

Sign the ACLU petition here.   More on this issue here.

The Ethical Algorithms  Panel & Track will be even more full than last year – at Aaron Swartz Day 2018 ‘s San Francisco Hackathon. We will have projects for you to hack on from afar. (Keeps your eyes right here for more information this week! :-) Pro publica story on Machine Bias here.

New York Times: Amazon Pushes Facial Recognition to Police.

By Nick Wingfield for the NY Times:

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union led a group of more than two dozen civil rights organizations that asked Amazon to stop selling its image recognition system, called Rekognition, to law enforcement. The group says that the police could use it to track protesters or others whom authorities deem suspicious, rather than limiting it to people committing crimes.

Here is the full text of the entire article – because, in our opinion, it is a clear cut case of Fair Use – being information that is clearly in the public interest (and should not be behind a paywall in the first place).

*****

By Nick Wingfield

May 22, 2018

SEATTLE — In late 2016, Amazon introduced a new online service that could help identify faces and other objects in images, offering it to anyone at a low cost through its giant cloud computing division, Amazon Web Services.

Not long after, it began pitching the technology to law enforcement agencies, saying the program could aid criminal investigations by recognizing suspects in photos and videos. It used a couple of early customers, like the Orlando Police Department in Florida and the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon, to encourage other officials to sign up.

But now that aggressive push is putting the giant tech company at the center of an increasingly heated debate around the role of facial recognition in law enforcement. Fans of the technology see a powerful new tool for catching criminals, but detractors see an instrument of mass surveillance.

On Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union led a group of more than two dozen civil rights organizations that asked Amazon to stop selling its image recognition system, called Rekognition, to law enforcement. The group says that the police could use it to track protesters or others whom authorities deem suspicious, rather than limiting it to people committing crimes.

Facial recognition is not new technology, but the organizations appear to be focusing on Amazon because of its prominence and what they see as a departure from the company’s oft-stated focus on customers.

“Amazon Rekognition is primed for abuse in the hands of governments,” the group said in the letter, which was addressed to Jeff Bezos, Amazon’s chief executive. “This product poses a grave threat to communities, including people of color and immigrants, and to the trust and respect Amazon has worked to build.”

With the letter, the A.C.L.U. released a collection of internal emails and other documents from law enforcement agencies in Washington County and Orlando that it obtained through open records requests. The correspondence between Amazon and law enforcement officials provides an unusual peek into the company’s ambitions with facial recognition tools, and how it has interacted with some of the officials using its products.

Many of the companies supplying the technology are security contractors little known to the public, but Amazon is one of the first major tech companies to actively market technology for conducting facial recognition to law enforcement. The efforts are still a tiny part of Amazon’s business, with the service one of dozens it offers through Amazon Web Services. But few companies have Amazon’s ability to effectively push widespread adoption of tech products.
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Image
Amazon’s campus in downtown Seattle. The American Civil Liberties Union and other civil rights groups are asking the company to stop selling its image-recognition system, Rekognition, to law enforcement authorities.CreditRuth Fremson/The New York Times

“The idea that a massive and highly resourced company like Amazon has moved decisively into this space could mark a sea change for this technology,” said Alvaro Bedoya, executive director at the Center on Privacy & Technology at the Georgetown University Law Center.

In a statement, a spokeswoman for Amazon Web Services stressed that the company offered a general image recognition technology that could automate the process of identifying people, objects and activities. She said amusement parks had used it to find lost children, and Sky News, the British broadcaster, used it last weekend to automatically identify guests attending the royal wedding. (The New York Times has also used the technology, including for the royal wedding.)

The spokeswoman said that, as with all A.W.S. services, the company requires customers to comply with the law.

The United States military and intelligence agencies have used facial recognition tools for years in overseas conflicts to identify possible terrorist suspects. But domestic law enforcement agencies are increasingly using the technology at home for more routine forms of policing.

The people who can be identified through facial recognition systems are not just those with criminal records. More than 130 million American adults are in facial recognition databases that can be searched in criminal investigations, the Center on Privacy & Technology at Georgetown Law estimates.

Facial recognition is showing up in new corners of public life all the time, often followed by challenges from critics about its efficacy as a security tool and its impact on privacy. Arenas are using it to screen for known troublemakers at events, while the Department of Homeland Security is using it to identify foreign visitors who overstay their visas at airports. And in China, facial recognition is ubiquitous, used to identify customers in stores and single out jaywalkers.

There are also concerns about the accuracy of facial recognition, with troubling variations based on gender and race. One study by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology showed that the gender of darker-skinned women was misidentified up to 35 percent of the time by facial recognition software.

“We have it being used in unaccountable ways and with no regulation,” said Malkia Cyril, executive director of the Center for Media Justice, a nonprofit civil rights organization that signed the A.C.L.U.’s letter to Amazon.

The documents the A.C.L.U. obtained from the Orlando Police Department show city officials considering using video analysis tools from Amazon with footage from surveillance cameras, body-worn cameras and drones.

Amazon may have gone a little far in describing what the technology can do. This month, it published a video of an Amazon official, Ranju Das, speaking at a company event in Seoul, South Korea, in which he said Orlando could even use Amazon’s Rekognition system to find the whereabouts of the mayor through cameras around the city.
Video from an Amazon event where a company official spoke about the company’s facial recognition system.CreditVideo by Amazon Web Services Korea

In a statement, a spokesman for the Orlando Police Department, Sgt. Eduardo Bernal, said the city was not using Amazon’s technology to track the location of elected officials in its jurisdiction, nor did it have plans to. He said the department was testing Amazon’s service now, but was not using it in investigations or public spaces.

“We are always looking for new solutions to further our ability to keep the residents and visitors of Orlando safe,” he said.

Early last year, the company began courting the Washington County Sheriff’s Office outside of Portland, Ore., eager to promote how it was using Amazon’s service for recognizing faces, emails obtained by the A.C.L.U. show. Chris Adzima, a systems analyst in the office, told Amazon officials that he fed about 300,000 images from the county’s mug shot database into Amazon’s system.

Within a week of going live, the system was used to identify and arrest a suspect who stole more than $5,000 from local stores, he said, adding there were no leads before the system identified him. The technology was also cheap, costing just a few dollars a month after a setup fee of around $400.

Mr. Adzima ended up writing a blog post for Amazon about how the sheriff’s office was using Rekognition. He spoke at one of the company’s technical conferences, and local media began reporting on their efforts. After the attention, other law enforcement agencies in Oregon, Arizona and California began to reach to Washington County to learn more about how it was using Amazon’s system, emails show.

In February of last year, before the publicity wave, Mr. Adzima told an Amazon representative in an email that the county’s lawyer was worried the public might believe “that we are constantly checking faces from everything, kind of a Big Brother vibe.”

“They are concerned that A.C.L.U. might consider this the government getting in bed with big data,” Mr. Adzima said in an email. He did not respond to a request for comment for this article.

Deputy Jeff Talbot, a spokesman for the Washington County Sheriff’s Office, said Amazon’s facial recognition system was not being used for mass surveillance by the office. The company has a policy to use the technology only to identify a suspect in a criminal investigation, he said, and has no plans to use it with footage from body cameras or real-time surveillance systems.

“We are aware of those privacy concerns,” he said. “That’s why we have a policy drafted and why we’ve tried to educate the public about what we do and don’t do.”

Artificial General Intelligences (AGIs) & Corporations Seminar at the Internet Archive Tomorrow (Sunday)

Note: if you can’t make this event, check out this literature review and this paper, which will still give you good idea of some of the subject matter :)

When: Sunday, April 8, 2018
Where: The Internet Archive, 300 Funston Ave, San Francisco, CA
Time: 2-6pm

Artificial General Intelligences & Corporations

Description:

Even if we don’t know yet how to align Artificial General Intelligences with our goals, we do have experience in aligning organizations with our goals. Some argue corporations are in fact Artificial Intelligences – legally at least we treat them as persons already.

The Foresight Institute, along with the Internet Archive, invite you to spend an afternoon examining AI alignment, especially whether our interactions with different types of organizations, e.g. our treatment of corporations as persons, allow insights into how to align AI goals with human goals.

While this meeting focuses on AI safety, it merges AI safety, philosophy, computer security, and law and should be highly relevant for anyone working in or interested in those areas.

Why this is really really important:

As we learned during last year’s Ethical Algorithms panel, there are many different ways that unchecked black box algorithms are being used against citizens daily.

This kind of software can literally ruin a person’s life, through no fault of their own – especially if they are already being discriminated against or profiled unfairly in some way in real life. This is because the algorithms tend to amplify and exaggerate any biases that already occur in the data being fed into the system (that it “learns” on).

Algorithms are just one of many tools that an an AGI (Artificial General Intelligence) might use in the course of its daily activities on behalf of whatever Corporation for which it operates.

The danger lies in the potential for misinterpretation by these AGIs should they be making decisions based on the faulty interpretations of unchecked black box algorithmic calculations.  For this reason, preservation of and public access to the original data sets used to train these algorithms is of paramount importance. And currently, that just isn’t the case.

The promise of AGIs is downright exciting, but how do we ensure that corporate-driven AGIs do not gain unruly control over public systems?

Arguably, corporations are already given too many rights – those rivaling or surpassing those of actual humans, at this point.

What happens when these Corporate “persons” have AGIs out in the world, interacting with live humans and other AGIs, on a constant basis. (AGIs never sleep.) How many tasks could your AGI do for you while you sleep at night? What instructions would you give your AGI? And whose “fault” is it when the goals of an AGI conflict with those of a living person?

Joi Ito, the Director of the MIT Media Lab, wrote a piece for the ACLU this week, concluding that AI Engineers Must Open Their Designs to Democratic Control  -“The internet, artificial intelligence, genetic engineering, crypto-currencies, and other technologies are providing us with ever more tools to change the world around us. But there is a cost. We’re now awakening to the implications that many of these technologies have for individuals and society…

AI is now making decisions for judges about the risks that someone accused of a crime will violate the terms of his pretrial probation, even though a growing body of research has shown flaws in such decisions made by machines,” he writes. “A significant problem is that any biases or errors in the data the engineers used to teach the machine will result in outcomes that reflect those biases

Joi explains that the researchers at the M.I.T. Media Lab, have been starting to refer to these technologies as “extended intelligence” rather than “artificial intelligence.” “The term “extended intelligence” better reflects the expanding relationship between humans and society, on the one hand, and technologies like AI, blockchain, and genetic engineering on the other. Think of it as the principle of bringing society or humans into the loop,” he explains.

Sunday’s seminar will discuss all of these ideas and more, working towards a concept called “AI Alignment” – where the Corporate-controlled AGIs and humans work toward shared goals.

The problem is that almost all of the AGIs being developed are, in fact, some form of corporate AGI.

That’s why a group of AGI scientists founded OpenCog, to provide a framework that anyone can use.

Aaron Swartz Day is working with OpenCog on building an in-world robot concierge for our VR Destination, and we will be discussing and teaching about the privacy and security considerations of AGI and VR in an educational area within the museum – and of course on this website :-). Also #AGIEthics will be a hackathon track this year, along with #EthicalAlgorithms :-)

So! If this is all interesting to you – PLEASE come on Sunday :-) !

There will also be an Aaron Swartz Day planning meeting –> way early this year –> because really we never stopped working on the projects from last November –> you are gonna love it! –> The meeting is at the Internet Archive on May 23, 2018 at 6pm. There will be an RSVP soon – but save the date! :-)

More on that soon! :)

References

  1.  AGI and Corporations Seminar, Internet Archive & Foresight Institute, April 8, 2018
  2. AI Engineers Must Open Their Designs to Democratic Control , by Joi Ito for the ACLU. April 2, 2018
  3. Machine Bias – There’s software used across the country to predict future criminals. And it’s biased against blacks. by Julia Angwin, Jeff Larson, Surya Mattu and Lauren Kirchner, ProPublica, May 23, 2016
  4. The OpenCog Foundation – Building Better AGI Minds Together
  5. The Swartz-Manning VR Destination, An Aaron Swartz Day Op
  6. The Algorithmic Justice League
  7. Gendershades.org