WeeklyTech #18

Why big tech struggles with ethics

In April, Google made news yet again with the controversy surrounding the formation of an ethics board focused on artificial intelligence (AI). The board, tasked with the “responsible development of AI,” was to have eight members and meet four times over the course of 2019 to evaluate the ethical implications of AI development and to make recommendations to executives.

But a week after the board was formed, it was officially cancelled. The Advanced Technology External Advisory Council (ATEAC), as it was called, ran into considerable controversy over the inclusion of Kay Cole James, the African American female president of the conservative think tank The Heritage Foundation, as well as the inclusion of drone company CEO Dyan Gibbens. The inclusion of James was protested by employees because of her views on sexuality and climate change. The inclusion of Gibbens brought up an older controversy Google faced: the outcry from its employees last year over an AI contract with the U.S. Department of Defense. Project Maven was designed to strength drone targeting systems by identifying objects in video data, but thousands of Google employees protested the company’s involvement, saying: “Google should not be in the business of war.”

Interesting technology stories

Google claims quantum computer breakthrough. IBM pushes back.nbcnews.com

Google said it has achieved a breakthrough in quantum computing research, saying an experimental quantum processor has completed a calculation in just a few minutes that would take a traditional supercomputer thousands of years. The findings, published Wednesday in the scientific journal Nature, show that “quantum speedup is achievable in a real-world system and is not precluded by any hidden physical laws,” the researchers wrote.

A face-scanning algorithm increasingly decides whether you deserve the job – The Washington Post

An artificial intelligence hiring system has become a powerful gatekeeper for some of America’s most prominent employers, reshaping how companies assess their workforce — and how prospective employees prove their worth. Designed by the recruiting-technology firm HireVue, the system uses candidates’ computer or cellphone cameras to analyze their facial movements, word choice and speaking voice before ranking them against other applicants based on an automatically generated “employability” score.

At an Outback Steakhouse Franchise, Surveillance Blooms – Wired

As casual dining chains have declined in popularity, many have experimented with surveillance technology designed to maximize employee efficiency and performance. Earlier this week, one Outback Steakhouse franchise announced it would begin testing such a tool, a computer vision program called Presto Vision, at a single outpost in the Portland, Oregon area. Your Bloomin’ Onion now comes with a side of Big Brother.