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Anti-surveillance mask – creepy, ingenious, or potentially illegal?

(TECHNOLOGY) Advances in surveillance tech have impressed the masses, but as our cultures consider the risk and reward, some are preparing to protect themselves from overreaching technologies and governments.

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How many surveillance cameras do you pass when you walk down the street? Most of us don’t know and prefer not to think about it. We know that public and private entities, from social media sites like Facebook, to law enforcement agencies, are using facial recognition software. In most cases, we haven’t actively consented to this surveillance, and we don’t know what will be done with information – but it also seems like there’s not much we can do about it.

Enter artist Leo Selvaggio, who is interested in “increasing the amount of public discourse about surveillance and how it affects our behavior in public space.” Selvaggio has launched a venture called URME Surveillance, whose focus is “protecting the public from surveillance and creating a safe space to explore our digital identities.”

URME is doing this is in an unusual, and admittedly kind of unnerving way. The site provides masks, in the likeness of Selvaggio’s face, that you can wear in public to protect your own mug from ending up on file. These “Personal Surveillance Identity Prosthetics” are sold at cost – Selvaggio isn’t in it for the profits. There’s a $200 resin prosthetic, a set of 2D paper masks for large groups (protestors?), and a downloadable PDF paper mask that fits together like a 3D puzzle, giving the mask more dimension than the flat, 2D version.

paper anti-surveillance

“Our world is becoming increasingly surveilled. For example, Chicago has over 25,000 cameras networked to a single facial recognition hub,” explains the URME website. “We don’t believe you should be tracked just because you want to walk outside and you shouldn’t have to hide either. Instead, use one of our products to present an alternative identity when in public.”

Is this product a genuine solution to non-consensual surveillance? Or is it simply an artist’s attempt to make a statement? The 3D resin mask is fairly realistic, but with the wearer’s eyes peeking out of the mask’s holes, it’s creepy, to say the least.

anti-surveillance face

While the mask may thwart surveillance cameras, it will probably attract attention from other people nearby – so perhaps anonymity isn’t the goal.

It’s more about making sure that your face doesn’t end up in a databank; or at the very least, inspiring conversation about the topic of public surveillance. Potential customers should also be advised that many states and cities have laws against wearing masks in public.

Regardless of the ultimate intention, the fact that Selvaggio is willing to sacrifice his own likeness to Big Brother means that he takes the issue seriously. Cameras linked to facial recognition software will identify and track Selvaggio, regardless of who is under the mask. URME has actually tested the product using Facebook’s “sophisticated” facial recognition software.

Selvaggio even acknowledges that people could use the mask to commit crimes, which could land him in hot water. However, he has “come to the conclusion that it is worth the risk if it creates public discourse around surveillance practices and how it affects us all.”

Ellen Vessels, a Staff Writer at The American Genius, is respected for their wide range of work, with a focus on generational marketing and business trends. Ellen is also a performance artist when not writing, and has a passion for sustainability, social justice, and the arts.

Tech News

Defense startups are getting beaucoup bucks from the DoD

(TECH NEWS) Some tech companies are getting large venture capital because the Department of Defense is looking for new defense startups.

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military looking defense startups

While private investors remain wary of funding defense startups, they are still keeping an eye on the possible venture opportunities. Meanwhile, the Pentagon is hoping domestic investors will increase spending into these startups in order to compete with China’s strategy of creating private equity firms to invest into foreign technologies.

A major reason for the growing interest by venture capitalists is the shift in focus from traditional weapons to tools for information warfare, meaning software and tech systems. Defense startups are creating products that may have multiple benefits outside the DoD.

Changes in the defense venture landscape are slow with all three parties learning how to benefit from one another. Startups realize working with the DoD is a “mission-driven objective” as stated by Ryan Tseng, founder of Shield AI. “We went into this eyes wide open, knowing full well that to the venture community, the math doesn’t make sense.”

However, there are several big investor players already in the game. Andreessen Horowitz, a top-tier venture fund is banking on the economic sustainability of defense startups in the future. They’ve already invested in Shield AI and defense tech company Anduril Industries. Additionally, the Founders Fund, another big name venture firm led by Silicon investors Peter Thiel, Brian Singerman, and Ken Howery is investing in Anduril and goTenna after successfully backing SpaceX and Palantir Technologies.

Defense companies’ emphasis on tech could be the answer to challenges usually associated with DoD investments like competing against dominate manufacturers with steady government contracts and long procurement cycles. U.S. Code 2377 stipulates that commercially available items be considered first in procurement efforts. If defense startups can enter the market, they will also stand a chance of winning government contracts over bigger, traditional companies, thus diversifying the playing field.

But until there is a greater guarantee of a payoff, investors are likely to remain skeptical. The possibilities for this new generation of defense companies is going to needs some more wins to prove the future is in their corner.

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Goal-based project management tool simplifies your work life

(TECH NEWS) If you are struggling to keep tasks straight then this new tool Qoals allows for a simpler and more straightforward way to accomplish goals as a team.

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Qoals pitch

We all have goals – whether they be personal, professional, financial, etc. Anyone can set a goal, all it takes is having a thought and assigning it a certain level of importance. However, not everyone completes their goals due to the oft difficulties and confusions associated with execution.

Like anything else, if there’s a will, there’s a way. A new way has been found in the form of Qoals – a simple and straightforward tool that helps you to get aligned around business goals instead of an endless wall of tasks.

The ability to complete goals is done through: setting goals, adding tasks, collecting things, and tracking progress. With this, everyone on your team has access to this information to keep tabs on what’s happening.

With setting goals, you create and prioritize your goals, letting your team members know which ones are most important at that time. Goals can be prioritized with tabs such as: long term, short term, and urgent. By adding tasks, you can add and assign tasks to set a clear path in order to complete set goals.

In collecting things, you collect resources related to your goal and keep them in one safe place (again, this is accessible to your whole team). This doesn’t require uploading files, but simply including links to resources to keep everything easily accessible. Finally, by tracking progress, everyone on the team can see where you’re at with your goals – which saves time with the follow ups of “how’s Goal X going?”

Why did Qoals develop this goal-oriented approach? “It’s about time we simplify things,” according to the official website. “Get aligned around goals and let everyone know what’s important for the business. Add goals under various projects and start adding tasks and resources to make that goal happen.”

Additionally, Qoals boasts that this provides users with a birds-eye view of what’s happening with their team, allowing them to be more human-centric. You can create unlimited projects, set and track your goals, collected everything related to said goal, keep the discussion relevant, access your tasks with one click, stay connected to your team, and see what’s going on at a glance.
Qoals is currently in beta.

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7 ways AI will transform health care

(TECH NEWS) Instead of worrying about the singularity of AI technology, let’s shine a ray of hope, and show one of the best ways to use AI robots.

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robot AI health care

Artificial intelligence (AI) has revolutionized business practices across many industries. With 39% of health care providers investing in AI-related technologies, it’s safe to say it’s about to transform the medical industry as well. AI’s disruptive potential may increase profits in other sectors, but in health care, it can save lives.

While robots aren’t quite ready to replace doctors, they can help them accomplish their tasks with higher speed and precision. AI in the hospital is not just a thing of the future, either. All around the world, smart machines are already assisting medical staff in a variety of ways.

As this technology refines, machine learning will become an increasingly regular part of medicine. Here are seven ways AI will transform health care in the coming years.

1. Robot-Assisted Surgery

It may sound like something out of a sci-fi movie, but surgery robots are already in use. In 2017, more than 690,000 surgeries were assisted by robots in the U.S. alone. As these machines continue to demonstrate their worth, they’ll appear in more operating rooms.

Robotic surgeons like the da Vinci Surgical System offer more precise and less invasive movements than human hands and traditional tools. With AI, they can improve upon surgical methods. AI-enabled surgery bots can notice reactions in a patient invisible to the human eye and make necessary adjustments.

2. Early Diagnoses

Intelligent programs can quickly analyze vast amounts of information. This unique talent makes AI ideal for making preliminary diagnoses in patients. Smart machines can take note of patients’ symptoms and interpret them to make an early diagnosis while doctors make their rounds.

The accuracy of these diagnoses will improve as AI develops, but even at its current state, they can be useful. Doctors can use them as a starting-off point. A list of likely diagnoses can be a helpful resource to doctors when trying to diagnose patients as quickly as possible. They might also make health care professionals consider options they otherwise wouldn’t have thought of, increasing accuracy.

3. Administrative Assistance

Treating patients is not the only duty of health care professionals. Doctors and nurses have to take records of patient data, from symptoms to insurance information, so they can refer to them later or send them to other hospitals. This process can take time, and any issues along the way can create problems for patients and doctors alike.

IT usability is a critical part of health care, and AI can optimize it. Intelligent systems can find ways to streamline the information-sharing process, ensuring health workers get the data they need as soon as possible. AI can also handle administrative tasks like scheduling and logistics, allowing hospital staff to focus on more pressing concerns.

4. Health Screenings

Just as AI applications can diagnose patients, they can also make predictions about a person’s fitness for a given situation. Predictive analytics is an AI function that analyzes historical data to make predictions about future outcomes. AI systems can use predictive analytics to perform more nuanced health screenings.

AI can tell doctors is a patient would be fit for surgery or not. Similarly, it can advise people if they aren’t a suitable candidate for physically exerting activities or tests. These analytics consider a wide range of data, including things a human might overlook, leading to more accurate predictions.

5. Remote Monitoring

AI can also optimize health care outside of the hospital. Wearable technology is already prevalent with products like Fitbit, and the medical industry can use this to its advantage. With wearable health-monitoring devices, doctors can monitor their patients remotely.

Remote monitoring devices can alert patients if they need to see a doctor. Should an emergency occur, they can also alert hospital staff so they can send an ambulance. These noninvasive technologies will allow patients with conditions such as heart disease to live without fear by providing them with almost instant assistance.

6. Robot Nurses

Intelligent robots can help fix the nursing labor shortage by filling in those vital roles. Nursing robots are already working in Japanese hospitals and may soon see use in the U.S. These machines can help patients move, reduce their stress and remind them to take their medicine.

With AI, these robot nurses can adapt to each patient’s needs and desires. By analyzing how different people respond to various stimuli and situations, they can customize care. Intelligent nurse robots treat patients in a manner ideal for their health and comfort needs.

7. AI-Enabled Genomics

Compared to humans, AI is better suited for data-heavy tasks. Since DNA sequencing is a form of data analysis, it’s an ideal area to employ AI.

Using artificial intelligence in genomics has already shown impressive results. In 2019, an AI system identified new genetic mutations that contributed to autism. The system could detect patterns in DNA humans would not be able to, as well as predict how changing each gene would affect a person.

AI Is Revolutionizing Medicine

Artificial intelligence is changing the way the health care industry operates. With continued research and improvement, AI systems could save countless lives.

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