- Neural networks making novel, recognizable images. The results are in a sort of uncanny valley territory, or maybe like looking at off-brand greeting card illustrations while under the influence.
Bias and Brains:
- Airbnb has a racism problem. Which is to say, society has a racism problem. Airbnb's distributed nature and the amount of personal choice given to hosts and guests makes it difficult to discover and police patterns of discrimination until after the fact, once harm has already occurred. As of now punitive actions stop at banning a user from the platform, turning it into a game whack-a-mole for bigotry. While it's unreasonable to expect technologies to fix deep, systemic problems like racism on their own, at a minimum they should not exacerbate the situation by reintroducing old problems in new forms.
Up in the Air:
- Walmart is working on drones for warehouse inventory management. Known for their penny stretching practices (they reuse 75 cent cardboard boxes and encourage traveling reps to bring hotel pens back to HQ) they've started to pour some serious money into technology initiatives as political pressure for a higher minimum wage continues.
- Researchers are hoping that machine learning will be able to unlock innovations in material science, a field where useful discoveries are the rare outcome of difficult and tedious testing. While human insight and analysis will still be a significant part of the process, the idea is that the AI will be able to shortlist the candidates most worthy of further consideration.
- Differing laws and national priorities mean that giant tech companies spanning the globe are required to re-inscribe political borders into their otherwise pervasive and amorphous services. While the most massive of tech companies are averse to adapting their offerings to fit more restrictive laws (whether that's surrounding privacy or political censorship), when the market opportunity is great they have sometimes made significant concessions and garnered criticism from those on the other end of the political spectrum. When it comes to medium and small countries it turns into a game of chicken- which party needs the other more and at what point does the cost of leaving citizens on the wrong side of a digital divide become too great?