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Last Week in AI #83

AI guidelines for children, face-mask recognition, space robots, and more!

Last Week in AI #83

Image credit: Ludovic Toinel / Unsplash via MIT Tech Review

Mini Briefs

Why kids need special protection from AI’s influence

Child are “often at the forefront when it comes to using and being used by AI.” For example, voice assistants are recording their voices, and recommender systems are influencing their worldviews. While these effects are also apparent for adults, children are especially at risk because they are still “developing intellectually and emotionally and physically,” which makes them very “shapeable” and vulnerable. To address this, UNICEF and the Beijing Academy of Artificial Intelligence separately published new AI ethics guidelines specifically tailored toward protecting the interests and well-being of children. This is a step in the right direction, and both organizations are launching pilot programs to study the effectiveness of their guidelines in practice.

Face-mask recognition has arrived - for better or worse

To help governments and health authorities track and improve face-mask usage, many companies have now developed face-mask recognition software that can identify whether or not someone is wearing a mask from live surveillance footage. In theory, this incurs less privacy intrusions than face-recognition, because it is not able to identify who a person is, just whether or not they’re wearing a mask.

While proponents argue that widespread deployment of this technology would enable more effective health awareness campaigns, critics are concerned about the slippery slope it might bring. Using face-mask recognition on live CCTV sets “a dangerous precedent for what happens when the pandemic is over.” Experts also believe that “getting people to wear masks might not require a technological fix in the first place,” and it is essentially “introducing software—and igniting privacy debates—to address a problem while completely side-stepping the underlying issue.”

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