What is Ethical AI?

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The recent Neural Information Processing Systems conference in Long Beach, California drew in more than 8,000 attendees. Amid discussions about new technologies and coming trends, the topic of artificial intelligence (AI) brought the conference to a more somber note.

The Moral Issues Surrounding AI Tech

Kate Crawford delivered the keynote speech, drawing on her experience as a Microsoft researcher, and her chosen topic concerned the direction that AI technology is headed. Already, she noted that AI has had unexpected and negative impacts on people’s lives and suggested researchers have an obligation to address this growing problem. She pointed out that AI interfaces have already caused harms, either accidentally or intentionally.

By way of an example, Crawford pointed to a 2015 incident in which black people were labeled as gorillas by Google’s photo AI service. Since then, the problem of AI interfaces learning and applying stereotypes has increased in frequency, suggesting this is a growing problem. These incidents are especially troubling, considering the fact that organizations in every sector from finance to the criminal justice system have started to use AI technology.

Ms. Crawford, who also co-founded the AI Now Institute at NYU, is using her resources to look more deeply at how AI relates with society.

More Shared Their Concern Over AI Learning

While artificial intelligence is intended to learn and adapt by its very nature, researchers from Cornell and Berkeley Universities also raised alarms. They noted that AI systems will infer race and gender, even when those criteria are not fed into the system. They extrapolate a person’s ethnicity and economic status based on that individual’s residence and other factors, suggesting that data analysis may be flawed.

Currently, professionals in the field of AI research admit that the main problem is that AI has become the new black box. By this, they mean that they know it works, but they can’t explain exactly why it works. The key may be in the way AI is programmed, suggest some. By bringing a more diverse selection of programmers to the task, the artificial intelligence in question may also be more diverse.

In essence, the perspectives of the developers, either deliberately or subconsciously, interpret who the AI system views society. In view of the learning capabilities of AI systems, it seems everyone in society and in government is responsible for what AI learns about our society. This suggests AI is only mirroring our own shortcomings.



An Overview of Philanthropic College Courses

When people think of philanthropists, they usually think of billionaires like Warren Buffett or Charlier Munger. But being a philanthropist is not about donating billions, or even millions. It’s about donating any amount of time or money to a worthy cause.

Today, students in colleges across the United States are being taught how they can be philanthropists – without having millions in their bank accounts.

Experiential Philanthropy

This type of philanthropy is focused on taking a more hands-on approach. The class is given a set amount of money – usually ten thousand dollars. They then decide which local charities to give it to. Classes like this are now being given at about eighty schools in the United States.

The program began in 1999 at Northern Kentucky University. In the nineteen years since then, students have given away more than one million dollars through this class.

Philanthropy Lab

The Philanthropy Lab is an initiative that was created by Geoffrey Raynor, based on experiential philanthropy. It’s present in about 20 universities today. What makes this approach interesting is that it’s become popular in many colleges where the students come from a wealthy background – like Princeton and the University of Chicago.

But a student does not need to come from wealth to be enrolled, or even be seeking wealth. As long as they are interested in learning about how they can help solve critical issues through philanthropy, they are welcomed to enroll.

Do These Classes Work?

Over 600 students from Northern Kentucky University who took the experiential philanthropy class were surveyed. The results showed that a student who took the class was more interested in charitable efforts than a student who did not take the class. Additionally, the students who took the class were also more knowledgeable about local issues, as well as the charities in place to help correct them.

The survey concludes by saying that the classes are worthwhile, because it makes a student more interested and involved in philanthropy.

The Only Drawback

The obvious drawback for these types of classes is providing the money to donate. However, there are federal efforts, as well as established philanthropists, that make the funds available.

Students invest in education. Now, through this investment, they’ll know how to invest in their communities after graduation.



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The Logistics of Touring Shows

Live concerts and festivals can be immensely enjoyable events for fans and the musicians involved, but there are many unsung heroes that act behind the scenes who deserve much more credit than they get. I’m speaking, of course, about the stagehands.

Before the lights dim and the musicians make their way to the stage, there are, at times, hundreds of people behind the curtains working tirelessly to ensure that everything goes right, and that every single person in the audience revels in the show’s impressiveness. From instruments, to costumes, to sound equipment, to lights, a stagehand’s plate is often quite full. Combine that with the hassle of touring around the country, and the job itself seems that much more complex.

The first step in preparing for a show is transporting all of the necessary gear to either the main rehearsal spot or venue location. Transportation via local or cross-country trucking, or air freight is typically required depending on how much needs to be moved. Aside from instruments, microphones, and amplifiers, some bands tour with their own lighting systems, video screens, pyrotechnics, and more, making the workload that much larger.

It’s important to note that cutting corners in this line of work can have drastic consequences, as one missing piece of stage equipment could potentially ruin the entire show. For that reason, equipment managers and stagehands should know every single piece of gear required for the show just as, if not better than the band members themselves.

Similarly, experienced equipment managers know to always plan for the unexpected. Bands may add shows to their tour at the last minute, decide to play shorter or longer than originally agreed upon, or improvise in the middle of the set. Regardless of the event, those operating behind the scenes often prepare for this by remaining on their toes, and having more-than-enough equipment to accommodate for any unexpected act.

One of the lesser known aspects of behind-the-scenes operations in the music industry is just how close employees and musicians can become. After all, they are sometimes on the road together for months on end. Equipment managers and stagehands alike work alongside the band members themselves day and night to the point where friendships may begin to blossom. The bottom line is though their jobs might be tedious and exhausting, they are doing what they love to help others do what they love on a daily basis.

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Emerging Technologies Helping Alzheimer’s Patients

Regardless of age, individuals suffering from Alzheimer’s disease can have their entire lives flipped upside down due to its debilitating effects. Because of this, researchers and scientists within the medical community are constantly testing the latest technological developments that could ease these symptoms, as well as more personalized care for the ever growing number of people suffering.

Life expectancy throughout the world has been steadily increasing throughout the years thanks to advancements in medicine. However, this directly translates to a larger elderly population, introducing new challenges for medical professionals, and a rise in age-related diseases, such as Alzheimer’s and Parkinson’s disease. To combat this, early diagnosis is seen as one of the most crucial aspects of treatment.

As a form of dementia, Alzheimer’s mostly affects individuals 65 and older. Brain fibers become tangled and eventually form “clumps” that destroy neuron connections, which lead to dead brain cells. The most obvious signs of early development are memory loss and impaired reasoning skills, but these can go unnoticed for an extended period of time, leading to the disease worsening.

A breakthrough in early diagnosis, PTE scans can show the human brain at a cellular level, allowing doctors and medical technicians to take not of any drastic metabolic chances. Patients suffering from Alzheimer’s often have much larger dark masses in the center of the brain; a clear sign of dementia beginning to develop. Treating this disease early on is the best way to maintain a patient’s cognitive abilities for as long as possible.

More and more psychological tests are being administered in an attempt to study Alzheimer’s as well. Activities like writing and anything that demands the cognitive functions of planning can show researchers just how much one person may be affected. As shown in this article’s graph, a person suffering from Alzheimer’s has a much more difficult time writing a sentence compared to a healthy individual. This test is a great way to read one’s stiffness, hand speed, and muscular contractions to best diagnose their levels of dementia.

Unfortunately, Alzheimer’s today remains an irreversible disease. Because of this, personalized care is essential to better a patient’s life as much as possible, and several pieces of technology have come to light recently to do just that. Wearable cameras, tools to assist in getting dressed, and small patches that monitor the body’s functions are all things that exist today, in addition to many others.

So, while this certainly is a difficult disease for both patients and their loved ones, there is hope for the future. Emerging technologies are making Alzheimer’s treatment much more effective, and with how quickly we have come in terms of medical advancements, a cure may soon be discovered as well.

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