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Last Week in AI #59

AI for the brain, Using AI responsibly for Covid-19, and more!

Last Week in AI #59

Image credit: Jezper / Alamy via The Guardian

Mini Briefs

Scientists develop AI that can turn brain activity into text

This article begins by stating “reading minds has just come a step closer to reality,” but the work it covers is much more grounded. Researchers collected electrode implant data of 4 participants while they were reading a set of 50 short sentences out loud. They then trained a neural network model to predict sequence of words from brain activity data while a participant is reading the words out loud.

While the model achieved low error rates for some participants, it performs much worse on sentences outside of the original 50. As it also requires brain implants and the person to actually speak the words, the research team stresses that this is not a way to read minds:

This is not translation of thought [but of brain activity involved in speech].

Using AI responsibly to fight the coronavirus pandemic

Many governments are turning to AI-enabled surveillance technology, such as facial recognition, to track the movement of people amid the Covid-19 outbreak. While the growing use of surveillance helps to curb viral spread, there are “very real and serious human rights concerns that can be damaging and undermine the trust placed in government by communities.”

This article lists several ways that AI can be deployed in ways that protect privacy and non-discrimination rights. In particular, data collected from individuals should be anonymized, the new data collection schemes for surveillance should have well-defined, limited scopes and time-horizons, and that AI use cases should be made transparent to public and civil society organizations.

It is essential that, even in times of great crisis, we remain conscience of the duality of AI and strive to advance AI for good.

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