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Mishandled CIA Communications System Helped Blow Cover of Chinese Agents

New report has described how a catastrophic failure on the part of the Central Intelligence Agency, combined with the Chinese government’s steadily more sophisticated internet monitoring capabilities, led to the dramatic collapse of an American intelligence network in China and the executions of dozens of spies and their associates. The incident is just one example of how authorities in Beijing are overseeing the creation of an ever more effective police state, complete with technology and tactics straight out of a certain genre of near-future science fiction movie.

It is considered as one of the CIA’s worst failures in decades: Over a two-year period starting in late 2010, Chinese authorities systematically broke up the agency’s network of agents across the country, executing dozens of suspected U.S. spies. But since then, a question has loomed over the entire debacle.

Foreign Policy revealed how Chinese state security officials were able to completely demolish a CIA-run intelligence operation over the course of two years, beginning in 2010.  The New York Times first broke the news of the debacle in 2017, but its sources either did not disclose or did not know exactly what had happened or the true scale of China’s response. In May 2018, U.S. officials charged former CIA officer Jerry Chun Shing Lee with conspiracy to commit espionage over the affair, nearly five months after indicting him for retaining classified information.

The CIA turned to the FBI to help uncover the source of the leak, according to the report. That investigation helped turn up Lee, who allegedly received tens of thousands of dollars to deliver information to the Chinese Ministry of State Security, which oversees both foreign and internal intelligence operations.

Xinjiang, where Uighurs, a non-Chinese Turkic ethnic group that is predominantly Muslim, make up the bulk of the population, has been an ideal setting to test out new equipment and concepts of operation far from both Han Chinese and outside observers.

To help exercise social control, China has put into place one of the most elaborate surveillance architectures in the world, complete with omnipresent cameras connected to monitoring stations running advanced facial recognition software, checkpoints with paramilitary police, and a system of systems all tied to a government-issued identification card that includes a “score” of how much a threat an individual poses to the state. Authorities have also begun implementing mass biometric data collection, including blood and DNA samples, to go along with other official information on file. All this can limit a person’s ability to buy goods and services or get a job.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

An archway with no less than seven cameras in front of the Id Kah Mosque in Kashgarin in Xinjiang.

After a spate of knife attacks in Xinjiang by alleged separatists, Chinese officials instituted a policy where cutlery vendors must physically laser-etch a QR code linked the buyer’s ID into the blade.

In July 2018, The Wall Street Journal reported that some 11,500 Uighurs that the Chinese government had approved to go on the Hajj, the sacred Islamic pilgrimage to Mecca, had to carry special cards with a GPS tracker inside on a lanyard around their necks. Ostensibly for their own safety in the event of some sort of crisis, this system would obviously be able to monitor their every movement and it seems likely that anyone who decided to leave it behind would, if nothing else, take a serious hit on their social scorecard.

The Yomiuri Shimbun via AP

A security guards man a checkpoint with a metal detector and an ID scanning system in a shopping mall in Xinjiang’s Kashgarin.

 Recently added in Xinjiang itself are small drones shaped like birds with realistically flapping wings, according to a June 2018 report from the South China Morning Post. These “Doves” can fly for thirty minutes and carry a small, color video camera and an ability to transmit the feed down to an individual on the ground. It reportedly has a GPS antenna and could be able to fly a pre-programmed route or operate under line-of-sight control.

The Chinese are “applying a very, very broad attempted solution to what they see as an ideological danger,” James Millward, who teaches Chinese history at The Georgetown University, told The Atlantic earlier in August 2018. “In Xinjiang, the definition of extremism has expanded so far as to incorporate.

Northwestern Polytechnical University

China’s “Dove” drone, a product of the country’s Northwestern Polytechnical University.

 

Imaginechina via AP

Chinese police officers and dogs, all with cameras, in Tiananmen Square.

China’s Police are now wearing Google Glass-style headsets with similar recognition capabilities to spot repeat offenders for crimes as minor as jaywalking. In the Temple of Heaven in Beijing, public restrooms use facial recognition software to give out only a specific amount of toilet paper per person. Even the police dogs have cameras.

 

 

Artificial Intelligence Changing The Way People Are Hired

 

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AI, can help HR understand whether they need to put in more sources to shorten hiring cycles for critical vacancies. Alongside, AI also helps HR pitch the job opportunity to extremely relevant candidates, thus weeding out outliers, and contributing to shortening the hiring cycle even more.

Recruitment agencies, as well as enterprise HR, have already adopted chatbots to perform many of the repetitive tasks that HR executives have to perform otherwise.

AI can help. Whether it’s sourcing, scheduling, or screening, AI-powered tools have a lot to offer to make the recruitment process better for everyone involved. AI-based programs can connect with different sources of candidate information and initiate email conversations.

The same tools can then build candidate profiles, keep on following up for a formal application, track application progress, and filter relevant applications from the larger set.

AI-powered tools can also engage in natural conversations with candidates on social media, mobile platforms, and instant messengers, using natural language processing capabilities to ensure the conversations are enjoyable and value adding. Apart from this AI has a role to play in scheduling candidate interviews and interactions without requiring an executive to do all the arrangements.

Cultural mismatch is a major reason why people leave organizations. AI can help you mitigate the cultural mismatch between your organization and your employees. AI-based tools can help build dynamic questionnaires which are used to assign cultural scores and grades to employees, and then match them with the cultural attributes of the organization, to determine better fits.

A 2017 Glassdoor report suggests that almost 66 percent of millennials expect to leave their current job by 2020. AI seeks to  reduce the numbers for your organization, saving you time and money.

Travel Trends & Technology

Expedia’s 2018 Travel Tech Trends and Industry Opportunities report, reveals that new technologies are seeing swift uptake from consumers, driven by consumers’ growing digital impatience and expectation for instant responses, answers and solutions to their queries and purchasing requests.

Artificial intelligence (AI)

AI makes it possible for machines to learn from experience, adjust to new inputs, mimic human behavior and complete tasks.

This can be found in some of the simplest, daily things such as Chatbots, which are offshoots of AI. Chatbot systems on their websites to help relieve the load on its hotlines. With Chatbots, time-starved (or impatient) travelers can get their queries across and expect a quicker response than, say, sending through an e-mail.

Companies that use it:

  • Air New Zealand (named Oscar)
  • AirAsia
  • Finnair (named Finn)
  • Expedia
  • Allora (named Dorothy)
  • Skyscann

In February this year, Japanese tour firm First Airlines rolled out a one-of-a-kind service that allows passengers to virtually visit destinations in a short two-hour “flight,” that would otherwise take upwards of 10 hours.

Passengers just needed to be strapped into a simulator to enjoy “traveling” to their destination in the comfort of first and business class cabins. The experience included everything that one would experience on an actual flight such as a safety announcement by the cabin crew and a four-course fine-dining in-flight meal.

Upon “arrival,” travelers will then be given high-tech virtual reality headsets to put on to explore their destination’s sites.

Other travel companies, such as Thomas Cook, Flight Centre, and Virgin Holidays are also using VR in-store to promote destinations they’re selling by giving immersive tours.

Renowned multinational hospitality company Shangri-La Hotels was perhaps the first if not one of the first hotel group to use VR across all its global sales offices to promote its properties worldwide.

Even the aforementioned Niantic-developed PokemonGO was used by tourism authorities worldwide to promote their destinations.

 

Translation: We have confirmed that the frequency to encounter Lapras has been increased in the coastal area of Iwate, Miyagi, and Fukushima prefecture. Apparently, it will continue until 23 Nov. It’s time to travel there where you can experience Tohoku district! We believe that you can find a lot of awesome things besides PokemonGO.

Blockchain

According to industry experts, emerging technology blockchain is the next major disruptor to the travel industry. And by the looks of how quickly companies are adopting cryptocurrencies, that seems to be true.

In February this year, Brisbane Airport, one of Australia’s biggest airports, announced it struck a game-changing deal with cryptocurrency travel firm TravelbyBit. The airport will become the world’s first airport to accept Bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies as a legitimate currency.

 

Southeast Asian travel firm Smiling Albino has also started acknowledging Bitcoin installments for all treks to Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, Laos, and Myanmar. The organization said it was “a more productive approach to pay for an excursion.”

Gmail’s Newest Features

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Google launched a new feature called Smart Compose that takes its AI writing much further. Smart Compose works a lot like Google’s own Autocomplete does in Search, popping up the things you might be about to say next. Simply by hitting tab, you can accept Google’s proposed words, add them to your copy, and move on to the next line of your email . . . for which Google might have even more suggestions.

To try it out, you’ll first need to turn on the “Enable experimental access” option within the General tab of the new Gmail’s settings. After you click the “Save Changes” button at the bottom of the screen, Gmail will refresh itself—and Smart Compose should then automatically be activated. You can confirm by going back into the General tab of the settings and looking for the newly added Smart Compose option. As long as “Writing suggestions on” is checked, you’re all set—and you should see Google’s predictive text show up periodically as you write new emails.

Google is very good at saying “hi”

[Source Image: Google]

Google is ready to schedule . . . perhaps to a fault

[Source Image: Google]

Google doesn’t seem interested in helping on serious topics

[Source Image: Google]
Click here for further assistance

Artificial Intelligence(AI) & Customer Service

 

AI & X-Ray

RF-Pose A.I. using turning machine learning and a wifi signal into X-ray vision

A new piece of software has been trained to use wifi signals — which pass through walls, but bounce off living tissue — to monitor the movements, breathing, and heartbeats of humans on the other side of those walls. The researchers say this new tech’s promise lies in areas like remote healthcare, particularly elder care, but it’s hard to ignore slightly more dystopian applications.

Project’s leader Dina Katabi, a 2013 MacArthur “Genius Grant” Fellow who teaches electrical engineering and computer science at MIT, to talk about how the new tech may be used.

She says “We actually are tracking 14 different joints on the body … the head, the neck, the shoulders, the elbows, the wrists, the hips, the knees, and the feet,

“So you can get the full stick-figure that is dynamically moving with the individuals that are obstructed from you — and that’s something new that was not possible before.”

The Problem: identifying human activity from wifi signals isn’t really something that even humans know how to do themselves. So the team developed one A.I. program that monitored human movements with a camera, on one side of a wall, and fed that information to their wifi X-ray A.I., called RF-Pose, as it struggled to make sense of the radio waves passing through that wall on the other side.

The Goal: Katabi would like to get the RF-Pose A.I. sophisticated enough that it can help monitor a variety of human health data tied to movement, identifying the early manifestations and progression of diseases like Parkinson’s or multiple sclerosis (MS). (Prior versions of this research could already track physiological data like breathing patterns and heart rate.) She also said RF-Pose’s underlying tech could easily apply to a number of other potential uses: from search-and-rescue missions retrieving avalanche victims, to wild futuristic revivals of Xbox Kinect, to intervening in dicey hostage situations between terrorists and law enforcement.

AI Predicts How You’ll Look In Old Age

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H. Yang et al., arXiv 1711.10352v1 (2017)

Scientists have created advanced artificial intelligence (AI) to render artificial aging that’s more realistic (and some say depressing) than ever.

The system uses a two-part AI algorithm called a generative adversarial network (GAN). The first part takes a face and produces another face of the same individual at a target age. During training, a second part compares this image with a real image of someone at that age and with the original image and provides feedback, encouraging the first part to improve its abilities. Other artificial aging systems have used GANs, but this one differs by focusing not just on getting the age right, but also on maintaining the individual’s identity. Unlike others, it also renders foreheads and (lack of) hair, as seen in the photos of Justin Timberlake and Kirsten Dunst above.

The researchers trained their AI on more than 100,000 images from two databases, including mugshots and celebrities at different ages. A separate computer program then judged how the AI performed on a novel set of images. When the AI aged photos of people more than 20 years, so that people under 30 were meant to look between 50 and 60, for example, the computer program saw them (on average) as a 60-year-old (for mugshots) or a 52-year-old (for celebs).

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