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Last Week in AI #62

AI research ethical concerns, AI tackling climate change, and more!

Last Week in AI #62

Image credit: William Potter / Shutterstock

Mini Briefs

MIT Cuts Ties With a Chinese AI Firm Amid Human Rights Concerns

iFlytek, a Chinese AI firm established in 1999, has made headlines worldwide in the last few years for its work on speech technology. MIT announced a five-year collaboration with iFlytek in June 2018, and since then the Chinese firm has helped fund projects focused on areas including human computer interaction and applied voice recognition. But such arrangements have become tricky as US-China relations have become more tense. In an even more concerning turn, iFlytek was accused of supplying technology for surveilling Muslim Uighurs, a group that is known to be facing sever persecution by the Chinese government, in Xinjiang Province. In the wake of tightened guidelines regarding funding from Chinese companies, MIT ended the collaboration, although the institution did not specify its reasons.

AI can tackle the climate emergency - if developed responsibly

Although the world is focused on the coronavirus pandemic, climate change is another major challenge that will bring significant damage if no drastic actions are taken. Immense progress in AI in the past decade shows promise in helping us confront the climate challenge. AI-powered tools may be help in areas from informing urban planning to minimize carbon footprint to designing products that can be more easily recycled. While it’s easy to be starry-eyed about what large tech companies can and are already starting to do at this intersection, concerns about AI bias present an important issue that will need to be tackled to develop responsible AI systems.

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  • Fairness and AI - How European Union non-discrimination laws are interpreted and enforced vary by context and by state definitions of key terms, like “gender” or “religion.”

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