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Showing posts from February, 2019

The Growing Disruption Of Artificial Intelligence

Photo by Frank Wang

Artificial intelligence may be as disruptive as the computers used to once were, and it could be an even bigger disruption. Given the disruption that social media has proven to be, one has to wonder if we are fully prepared for the life altering consequences we are building for ourselves.

IBM has been a key player in the artificial intelligence arena for over two decades. Deep Blue was their first tour de force in 1997, when its team of developers received $100,000 for defeating chess champion Gary Kasparov in a game of chess. That watershed moment has its roots all the way back in 1981 when researchers at Bell Labs developed a machine that achieved Master status in chsess, for which they were awarded $5000. In 1988 researchers at Carnegie Melon University were awarded $10,000 for creating a machine that achieved international master status at chess. Deep Blue, however, was the first machine to beat the world chess champion.

Google has entered the fray as well, wit…

Information Dissemination In An Open Society

Information derives a large part of its value in its timeliness. Democracy dies in darkness, because transparency of government is essential for it. When these two principles collide, things get messy, as they have with Waze and the NYPD. Google, owner of Waze, was recently notified by the NYPD with a demand that they remove a feature from Waze that alerts drivers of DUI and speeding checkpoints. Here our democratic principles are colliding, whereby timely information is being communicated about the government operations which is effectively being used to undermine it.

Police departments generate a lot of revenue from DUI and speeding convictions. This revenue sustains law enforcement in other crime fighting activities which generate little, if any, cash flow for police. Yet the NYPD is not framing the issue in this way. DUI checkpoint and speed trap data is posted to Waze by a method called crowdsourcing. If someone sees a DUI checkpoint or speed trap, they use Waze on their smartph…

Law enforcement and DNA sequencing

DNA sequencing has risen in popularity in recent years to to the widespread availability of affordable testing kits. Obviously people are opting into participation by uploading their DNA data, in great numbers, but do they fully know how that data will be used?

The Golden State Killer, who terrorized California from the mid-1970s to the mid-1980s, was recently apprehended by working with a lesser known testing company, Family Tree DNA. Their kits are smaller and so is their database, but their database has an big advantage. The company boasts that it has the largest database Y-DNA database in the world. Y-DNA is very useful in tracing patrilineal ancestry, which is essentially data on who you are related to. This data is how the Golden State Killer was caught. Because some of his relatives had willingly participated in DNA kit testing, law enforcement was able to triangulate his identity.

Use of these databases by law enforcement is a new but already rapidly growing phenomenon. Gene …