Kriti Sharma (@sharma_kriti) is an Artificial Intelligence expert and a leading global voice on ethical technology and its impact on society.
She built her first robot at the age of 15 in India and has been building innovative AI technologies to solve global issues, from productivity to inequality to domestic abuse, ever since. Kriti was recently named in the Forbes 30 Under 30 list and was included in the Recode 100 List of Key Influencers in Technology in 2017. She was invited as a Civic Leader to the Obama Foundation Summit. She is a Google Anita Borg Scholar and recently gave expert testimony on AI Policy to the UK Parliament in the House of Lords.
While much of Silicon Valley worry about doomsday scenarios where AI will take over human civilization, Kriti Sharma has a different kind of concern: What happens if disadvantaged groups don’t have a say in the technology we’re creating? In 2017, she spearheaded the launch of the Sage Future Makers Lab, a forum that will equip young people around the world with hands-on learning for entering a career in Artificial Intelligence.
Earlier this year, she founded AI for Good, an organization creating the next generation technology for a better, fairer world. Kriti also leads AI and Ethics at Sage.
Kriti's Ted Talk: How to Keep Human Bias out of AI
Automating Inequality by Virginia Eubanks
Winners Take All by Anand Giridharadas
Two Amazon shareholder resolutions to curb Rekognition—with a K—the company’s facial recognition platform—failed to garner shareholder approval last week. One proposal would have required the company to determine whether the technology violates civil liberties before rolling it out to law enforcement. The other resolution would have required Amazon to conduct a study of human rights violations posed by Rekognition. While Amazon is reluctant to address these issues, Google and Microsoft have pledged not to sell their facial recognition to law enforcement.
The Financial Times reports that U.S. National Security Advisor Dan Coates has been warning U.S.-based companies about doing business with China. Coates has even gone as far as sharing classified information with executives. The classified briefings come amidst a U.S. trade war with China which includes a ban of China-based tech company Huawei from doing business in the U.S. because of a cozy relationship it allegedly had with Iran and the fact that China is alleged to be using the company’s components to spy on the U.S. The Financial Times says the briefings have largely focused on the espionage and intellectual property threats China poses.
A bi-partisan bill introduced by Senators Ed Markey and John Thune, that would slap robocall offenders with a fine of $10,000 per call, passed the Senate with a vote of 97 to 1 on Thursday. The legislation also increases penalties for scammers and works to combat number blocking. The bill is called the Telephone Robocall Abuse Criminal Enforcement and Deterrence (TRACE) Act and now heads to the House where Democrat Frank Pallone’s got a similar bill in the works.
Google has tweaked it policy for abortion ads after several misleading abortion ads showed up on the platform. Now, the company’s saying that it will certify advertisers who want to place abortion-related ads as either abortion providers or non-providers. Any advertiser that doesn’t fall into one of those categories won’t be able to run abortion ads on Google.
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Luis Avila (@phoenikera) is the President and Founder of Iconico Campaigns, a company that works to build advocacy capacity in organizations around the country. Migrating in 2000 from Mexico, Luis stayed in the U.S. to attend college, where he developed projects with people involved in arts, politics and social justice. In 2004, Luis learned about civic participation in Jackson, Mississippi, as part of the American Freedom Summer program. He collaborated with organizers and leaders to advocate for the DREAM Act, fight against SB1070 and challenge Sheriff Joe Arpaio's discriminatory practices in Arizona. In 2008, Luis joined the Obama campaign where he got insight on cornerstone aspects of electoral organizing. This knowledge, paired with technologies developed to boost volunteer engagement, is applied now in all his advocacy and community engagement work. Luis spearheaded Somos América in 2011, the largest immigrant-rights coalition in Arizona, and currently sits on the Boards of Advisors of the National Council for La Raza and The New Teacher Project, an organization working to end education inequality. A long-time family and community engagement expert, Luis has designed engagement models for domestic and international organizations and school systems. In 2016, he served as Nevada's Democratic Coordinated Campaign Field Director, contributing to major victories in the state legislature, electing the first Latina Senator and delivering the state to Hillary Clinton, and he’s currently launching Instituto, an organization to build political infrastructure in communities of color in Arizona.
The FCC signals that it will approve the Sprint/T-Mobile merger, China’s Huawei has a tough week as President Trump limits its U.S.-based business, and Luis Avila is my guest
The Trump administration appears divided over whether to approve the Sprint/TMobile merger. The companies say if the merger’s approved they’ll have 5G built out to the entire country in 6 years. Sprint says they’ll also sell prepaid wireless company Boost mobile. FCC Chair Ajit Pai says the merger conditions the companies are proposing are adequate and said he’d approve the deal. The two other Republicans on the Commission signaled their support as well giving the deal the majority it needs at the FCC. Policy expert Gigi Sohn says though that over at the DOJ’s antitrust division, Assistant Attorney General Makan Delrahim is saying the conditions aren’t enough.
Chinese device manufacturer Huawei had a tough week last week as President Trump signed an executive order Wednesday that bans American telecom companies from installing foreign-made equipment that could pose a national security threat. American officials have accused the company of violating an American trade embargo against Iran and with assisting China with spying on U.S. companies. Since Trump issued the order, Google parent Alphabet has suspended doing business with Huawei, outside of what’s available via open source, by revoking the Android licensing deal the tech giant had with Huawei.
Looks like the White House wants to set up its own social network to compete with Twitter and Facebook. The White House has created a creepy new database that lets conservatives report instances in which they’ve been censored on social media platforms. The President is attempting to get users to opt-in to a separate White House newsletter that purports to allow anyone, irrespective of their political views, to receive updates without relying on Facebook and Twitter.
The White House also decided not to sign on to a multinational campaign created by Christchurch, New Zealand to stamp out online hate speech. The White House says the effort would dilute the freedom of speech. 18 other countries, including many of America’s allies, disagreed.
Johns Hopkins has released a free online course where users can learn how to prevent and protect against gun violence. The course contains six modules taught by experts, including mental health professionals. It’s entitled Reducing Gun Violence in America: Evidence for Change and its intended to equip students to use research to combat gun violence in America.
Major wireless carriers including AT&T and Verizon have claimed that they have stopped sharing geolocation data with third party bounty hunters. But the the facts suggest otherwise. Congressman Mike Doyle notes that the number of complaints about police departments and others unauthorized (and unconstitutional, for that matter) surveillance of individuals has been on the rise. AT&T has acknowledged that it took advantage of a loophole in a Communications Act privacy provision that doesn’t cover a type of geolocation data known as A-GPS which AT&T’s Joan Marsh says is less precise than location data covered by the National Emergency Address Database.
Amazon released its plan for 2 LEED-certified 22 story office buildings in Arlington. There will be 50,000 square feet of street level space for retail and restaurants.
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Harold Feld is Public Knowledge's Senior Vice President. Before becoming Senior Vice President at Public Knowledge, Harold worked as Senior Vice President of Media Access Project, advocating for the public interest in media, telecommunications, and technology policy for almost 10 years. Prior to joining MAP, Harold was an associate at Covington & Burling, worked on Freedom of Information Act, Privacy Act, and accountability issues at the Department of Energy, and clerked for the D.C. Court of Appeals. He received his B.A. from Princeton University, and his J.D. from Boston University Law School. Harold also writes Tales of the Sausage Factory, a progressive blog on media and telecom policy. In 2007, Illinois Senator Dick Durbin praised him and his blog for "[doing] a lot of great work helping people understand how FCC decisions affect people and communities on the ground."
The Case for the Digital Platform Act by Harold Feld
In a 5-4 the decision, the Supreme Court dealt a blow to Apple in a class action lawsuit claiming that company’s app store is a monopoly. The case will now proceed in the district court. The issue was whether regular consumers have standing to sue Apple for antitrust violations, or whether it was just competitors who have standing to sue. Justice Kavanaugh sided with the court’s liberal justices, saying that if consumers didn’t have standing, that retailers would be able to evade antitrust enforcement, by structuring deals with suppliers and manufactures in a way that complies with the black letter of the law, but still effectively have a monopoly.
Police in Pittsburgh arrested an Uber driver, Richard Lomotey, who is also an assistant professor at Penn State’s Beaver campus, for allegedly locking two female passengers in his car and telling them, “you’re not going anywhere”. Lomotey is charged with two counts of kidnapping.
Protestors converged on Palantir’s headquarters around the country over the company’s $38 million contract with Immigration and Customs Enforcement. According to the Intercept, Palantir, which was founded by Trump adviser Peter Thiel, has been working with ICE to help them target and deport unaccompanied children and their families. Palantir says that it only helps ICE with investigations. But the Intercept found written documents, obtained via a FOIA request, that show Palantir pursued an “Unaccompanied Alien Children Human Smuggling Disruption Initiative” with both of ICE’s two major divisions: Homeland Security and Investigations and its other division, which is called Enforcement and Removal Operations.
The New York Times reports that Symantec has discovered that Chinese spies hacked into the National Security Agency and stole its hacking tools. Then it took those tools and used them against the United States. Experts are now questioning what role the U.S. should now play in defining cybersecurity practices around the world. The New York Times describes what China did as being similar to a “
gunslinger who takes an enemy’s rifle and starts blasting away”, making cybersecurity, in a lot of ways, like the Wild West.
The Justice Department has charged two Chinese nationals for hacking Anthem back in 2015 that affected some 78.8 million Americans. The DOJ says the hackers used “extremely sophisticated techniques” to hack into Anthem and three other companies. DOJ officials call it one of the worst attacks in U.S. history.
Amazon reported that over 6 months last year, it was hit by what it termed an “extensive fraud” with hackers siphoning funds from merchant accounts.
Pew reports that despite all of the breaches, and hacks and problems in the tech sector and Facebook, in particular, Americans’ interest in tech remains unchanged compared to last year. Black and Hispanic adults’ use of YouTube exceeds that of Whites by 6 and 7 points respectively, with 78 and 77 percent saying they’ve ever used YouTube. Notably, Hispanic adults far outpace Whites on Instagram—by some 18 points, with 51 percent of Hispanics saying they’ve ever used the platform compared to just 33% of Whites. Blacks and Hispanics also far outpace Whites on WhatsApp, by 11 points and 29 points, respectively. You can find a link to the report in the show notes.
Uber drivers around the world protested Uber and Lyft on the day of Uber’s IPO last week. The largest number of protestors, hundreds, appeared outside Uber’s headquarters in San Francisco. But the turnout in other cities around the world, were more modest. This underscores the difficulty of organizing in a company without a central company-wide email system that drivers can use to organize.
Oracle is suing the Pentagon for eliminating it from a bidding process after Amazon allegedly offered a job to a Department of Defense employee for crafting the Joint Enterprise Defense Infrastructure in a way that benefitted Amazon.
DC City Council member Phil Mendleson threatened DC Mayor Muriel Bowser on Twitter, saying that he would withhold building permits for government projects if the Mayor fails to implement a law designed to regulate short -term rentals like Airbnb. The Mayor’s office is saying the law may be unconstitutional because it limits owners of units that don’t actually reside at their property from sharing with renters for more than 90 days per year. The law is scheduled to take effect on October 1st.
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Randy Abreu (@AbreuAndTheCity) is the Senior Legislative Advisor to Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez (D-NY). Abreu served in the Obama Administration where he was appointed to the Department of Energy's Office of Technology Transitions and Clean Energy Investment Center. He is an alum of the Congressional Hispanic Caucus Institute and Google Policy fellowships and is currently a Google NextGen Leader, Internet Law and Policy Foundry fellow, and member of the Bronx Progressives.
Abreu has a personal history of advocating for social justice, and federal experience producing regulations and initiatives on intellectual property, drones, self-driving cars, cybersecurity, broadband access, spectrum allocation, e-privacy, and tech-transfer.
Read more at https://washingtechpodcast.libsyn.com/randy-abreu-tech-policy-in-the-bronx-and-beyond-ep-128#ySt87YOYc4MbviFm.99
Mark Zuckerberg comes under direct assault ahead of a shareholder vote to keep him on the Board, Microsoft defends election security, and Randy Abreu is my guest
Two civil rights groups—Color of Change and Majority Action—are circulating a proposal and meeting with Facebook’s shareholders pushing to oust Mark Zuckerberg from the board. Color of Change President Rashad Robinson wrote “ "Lasting change to address the misinformation, discrimination, violent movements and data breaches that put users, especially Black users, at risk cannot subject to the whims of a single person." Currently, Zuckerberg controls 57.7% of voting shares. The Hill notes that 35% of Facebook’s shareholders withheld votes last year.
Here in DC Senators Blumenthal and Hawley wrote to the Federal Trade Commission urging it to wrap up its investigation into Facebook, calling for significant damages that exceed the $5 billion that some reports have anticipated.
Several sources have reported that Facebook has told federal regulators at the Federal Trade Commission that, in addition to paying what’s expected to be a multibillion dollar fine, it will also bend to additional oversight. Any major changes that Facebook plans to make to the platform would now need to go through a more rigorous approval process. And Facebook would need to hire a new privacy executive that the FTC pre-approves. Facebook has also redesigned its website to emphasize group messages over the news feed in order to address privacy concerns.
The Trump administration has expanded its collection of biometric data from migrant families at the U.S. border with Mexico. The Department of Homeland Security will now conduct DNA tests and a pilot to collect fingerprints from children under 14.
Russia took a huge step last week to close itself off from the internet. Vladimir Putin signed a new bill that would allow his country to develop a “sustainable, fully-functioning, and secure sovereign internet” to defend itself against potential cyberattacks. The bill envisions doing this by creating a Russia-specific Domain Name Server.
Senators Steve Daines And Gary Peters introduced a bipartisan bill that would prevent the Customs and Border Protection’s ability to sell personally identifiable information, like addresses and social security numbers, to third parties. The senators say the new measure could help prevent identity theft and credit card fraud.
Uber and Lyft have stopped adding new drivers in New York City approximately 3 months after a new law went into effect that requires drivers to earn at least $17.22 per hour after expenses. The new law is intended to address low pay but also reduce the number of unused ride-sharing vehicles on the street. Politico noted that Uber and Lyft drivers have earned some $56 million more than they would have prior to February first.
Several hundred employees at Google offices around the world, including in London, staged a sit in last week to protest alleged retaliation against Google employee Meredith Whittaker for organizing a 20,000-employee walkout to protest forced arbitration f. During the sit-in other employees spoke about instances of retaliation that they too have allegedly experienced. Google released a statement saying it takes retaliation seriously and that it offers multiple channels by which employees have the ability to complain about retaliation, including anonymous complaints.
Microsoft is taking the initiative to beef up election security by offering a free software that secures and validates votes and elections with new encryption methods. The company says it is ready to release “early prototypes” by 2020. Keep in mind though that it won’t be prepared for “significant deployments” until after the 2020 elections.
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