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What can we do about bias in AI?

(TECH NEWS) Each AI system is a reflection of their interaction with the humans who designed, programmed, trained, or used them – and they are reflecting out own deep-rooted biases.

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Skewed samples

The machines we make reflect our own biases, according to Kristian Hammond, who wrote an article breaking down the different ways an artificially intelligent system can be biased. Each system is a reflection of their interaction with the humans who designed, programmed, trained, or used them.

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Data-driven bias results when a system learns from a skewed sample. Often we think this won’t be a problem because of the sheer volume of examples given to facilitate machine learning, but that isn’t the case. In fact a viral video demonstrated that HP motion trackers don’t track faces with non-white skin tones, which might be just such a problem.

Your system reflects your bubble

Bias through interaction comes when smart systems learn from interacting with humans. Never has a more cautionary tale of this kind of bias come as quickly as the day-long life of Microsoft’s Tay. Tay was a twitter chat bot designed to learn based on its interactions with human tweeters. As anyone who has ever spent one day in junior high could have predicted, human users bombarded Tay with offensive statements. With this as a model, the chat bot became an aggressive racist and misogynist and had to be shut down.

Emergent bias and similarity are a little more complicated, but have to do with systems aimed at personalization.

Similar to the problem of social news bubbles, systems trained to show you what you want to see will become more biased the longer they do that thing.

Systems can also have conflicting goals, where they are told to perform a specific purpose, and the interactions with users push them towards a different one.

Identification is key

Hammond notes we view AI and machines as cold and indiscriminating. Whether or not we think this is a design flaw or a great accomplishment, it it reinforces a misconception that the smart machines we make are objective.

After looking specifically at each way things can go terribly wrong, I have to agree with Hammond: we need to identify our own biases. At every level, from engineering to product use, we need to think of how we are making, training, and using these systems in order to prevent our own flaws from getting a Terminator-style upgrade.

#AIBias

Felix is a writer, online-dating consultant, professor, and BBQ enthusiast. She lives in Austin with two warrior-princess-ninja-superheros and some other wild animals. You can read more of her musings, emo poetry, and weird fiction on her website.

Tech News

Jenzy helps perfectly measure your kids’ feet

(TECH NEWS) Jenzy is a mobile app currently in beta that helps you perfectly measure your kids feet and buy shoes without having to leave your home.

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Parents rejoice, there’s now a mobile app that sizes your child’s feet to determine their correct shoe size. No more carpet charts that every kid has put their dirty little socked foot on, or those weird metal sizing instruments.

With Jenzy, you just take a picture of your child’s foot, and the app calculates the measurements. It then generates personalized size and style recommendations, which you can order directly from the app.

Jenzy partners with podiatrist recommended brands designed for active kids, including pediped, Robeez, and Morgan & Milo. However, you don’t have to purchase their suggestions to receive the sizing info.

Incorrectly sized shoes are a literal pain for everyone, but this especially affects children, who don’t have purchasing power.

Additionally, shoes that don’t fit can have long-term effects on children’s growth and development, and lead to foot problems in the future. Properly fitted shoes are necessary for healthy foot development.

Wearing incorrectly sized shoes is just part of the problem. If shoes aren’t suited for every day use, children’s feet and overall growth can also suffer.

Flip flops, ballet pumps, and shoes with raised heels are not recommended by podiatrists for frequent use, as they can cause discomfort, or even musculoskeletal issues.

According to Dr. Stewart Morrison, a University of Brighton podiatrist, “children’s feet are still growing and are more susceptible to damage than adult feet, so it’s really vital to ensure they are wearing shoes which fit them well – in width as well as length – and that are suitable for age, as well as the task they are wearing them for.”

As online shopping has taken over, fewer parents are getting their children’s feet sized by in-store experts. Of course, there’s also a cost-barrier, as many stores that offer shoe-sizing are often more expensive.

Jenzy hopes to bridge that gap, providing parents both proper shoe sizes and affordable products designed to last.

Right now the app is set to launch in December, but if you don’t want to wait, apply to take part in the beta test on Jenzy’s site.

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Tech News

Time is money and Clockify helps you make the most

(TECH NEWS) Tracking your time worked as a freelancer can easily be lost in the shuffle. A new tool has been designed to make this important aspect easier.

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After years of searching for a method that works for me in terms of organization and productivity, the answer seemed to be simple: a calendar I can write on and Post-It notes. This method is a little old school, but seems to get the job done for my organizational needs.

However, there are some things that slip through the cracks with this method, but it’s more user error than it is the actual practice. One thing I struggle with is keeping track of my freelance hours this way.

I have a tendency to guesstimate how much time I worked throughout the day and know that I wind up underdocumenting my hours. I would hate to know how much money I’ve missed out on keeping (sometimes inaccurate) handwritten notes.

But, like many other small scale issues, there is a simple solution. And that is found in the form of time trackers.

One of the newest members to join the online time tracker team is Clockify, who operates under the idea of “your time, your rules.” It is a free time tracking tool designed for agencies and freelancers.

Clockify allows users to manage as many team members, projects, and workspaces that you need in an effort to help your business run smoothly. This allows for a complete overview of team productivity.

The tool offers a way to enter time manually as well as clock time automatically. This way you can keep tabs on what you’re working on and assign and label time logs to the appropriate clients.

With this time tracking, you are able to generate weekly, monthly, and annual reports at any given time. These reports can be saved, exported, and shared with clients to give them more information about your work process.

The real-time tracking helps to improve business efficiency and gives more insight into what each team member is spending their time on. Having this information available can give visual representation of how to improve in the future.

Clockify currently exists in desktop format with iOS and Android apps coming soon.

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Tech News

Russia vetoed cryptocurrency and came back with CryptoRuble

(TECH NEWS) Russia put a hard pass on other cryptocurrencies in their country so that they could hop in the crypto-game with their own CryptoRuble.

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Just days after The American Genius reported that the Russian Central Bank would attempt to block access to cryptocurrency trading cites, the Coin Telegraph has reported that the Russian government will issue its very own cryptocurrency, the CryptoRuble.

The report cited local Russian papers, who quoted the minister of communications, Nikolay Nikiforov.

Earlier this week, head of the Central Bank, Sergei Shvetsov, said that he would work with the Prosecutor General’s Office to ban Russian citizens from accessing cryptocurrencies like Bitcoin, calling such currencies a “negative phenomena for our markets” and a “pyramid scheme.”

Now it appears that the Kremlin will create its own cryptocurrency – one it can keep an eye on — which, some might argue, defeats the entire purpose of cryptocurrency.

However, like other cryptocurrencies the CryptoRuble will be based on blockchain and will presumably help prevent online fraud.

CryptoRubles will be exchangeable with regular Rubles, although the systems of exchange have not yet been set up. Experts think that Russia is hoping to stimulate e-commerce without the need for foreign money markets, which will allow them to have more independence from the United States.

According to Nikiforov, the Russian government is setting up its own cryptocurrency under the assumption that if they don’t, other European governments will.

Said NIkiforov, “I confidently declare that we run CryptoRuble for one simple reason: if we do not, then after two months our neighbors in the EurAsEC will.”

Traders using CryptoRubles will be asked to provide documentation of retail transactions and services rendered – or pay a 13 percent tax for undocumented transactions, leaving a wide loophole for money laundering.

Critics say that Russia is trying to facilitate, while also profiting from money laundering; that the Kremlin is stealing the market from other cryptocurrencies; and that the CryptoRuble fundamentally defies the spirit of decentralization that inspired other cryptocurrencies.

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