Been thinking about machine bias again recently

Amazon AR haircut

Yesterday I met up with some friends to celebrate a birthday. We went to the Wharf in Castlefield, Manchester. Nice outdoor space with a massive teepee to help with Manchester’s typical rainfall.

I had a few drinks so visited the toilet a few times and of course washed my hands well so needed to dry them. A few times I tried the hand dryer but there was a red light, so assumed it wasn’t working from a fault or due to the spread of germs? Once I noticed the paper towels were refilled and used that.

However the last time I went in there was white man using the hand dryer, I was surprised and naturally thought it must be fixed now. So afterwards attempted to use it. Did it work, did it heck!

This doesn’t come as too much of a shock as its not the first time and there are many examples on youtube. However with a lot more knowledge now, I’m pretty peed off about it. I wanted to record it but needed a white hand to trigger it and at the end of the night, very few people would join my video experiment. I can tell you I moved, flipped, waved, even touched the sensor with my hand. Nothing would trigger it.

After returning to the table, I asked if the men had used the hand dryer but didn’t get a clear yes or no. So I’ll have to go back to the Wharf soon to film this I think.

Another interesting point also came up after the hand dryer discussion.

Amazon opens its first hair salon, where customers can use augmented reality to experiment with hair colors

I instantly wanted to know if Amazon’s AR app will actually work on non-white people? From all the press pictures, its all pictures of white skin women. If it doesn’t work on non-white skin, expect an explosion of coverage, but it would speak volumes about the total bias of this whole industry. Something many have covered but watching Coded Bias during Mozfest made super clear.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (May 2021)

a dark forest

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed seeing Facebooks dismissal of 530 million users data leaked and actively being exploited, joining the general dismissal of data leaks this month.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with Google maps providing eco-friendly routesEurope seeking to limit AI use in society and how Ben & Jerry’s combine activism with business.


Facebook/Nick Clegg attempts to gaslight us all

Ian thinks: Nick’s blog post is cleverly written ultimately saying the right things even touching on algorithmic transparency. However the key message is, you are the problem, and ignores the power dynamic an entity like Facebook really has over their users lives.

What is the dark forest theory of the Internet?

Ian thinks: Yancey (co-founder of kickstarter) shares his thoughts about the dark forest theory in light of a year plus in a pandemic and our ever increasing reliance on the internet. Recently followed up with more thoughts.

Is more data or a more human outlook the future of shopping?

Ian thinks: Data use is a worrying trend and it reminds me how Ford decided the data was the goal of the car sell, but maybe shopping is missing the human element?

How is remote working going to effect the future of work?

Ian thinks: A good summary of the development work if you are a office/knowledge worker. Little for other types of work which seemed a obvious hole in this all.

The doomsday machine: scale is the enemy of human progress?

Ian thinks: The comparisons of Facebook to the doomsday machine is quite a leap but the points made are clear and re-enforces my thoughts about scale being the enemy of humanity

Those face filters were never fun

Ian thinks: I turn off the filters as they are usually not flattering for black skin. However there is much greater affect on women who have their faces and bodies under the microscope every moment of the day causing anxiety and even worst.

A new decentralization pattern library

Ian thinks: Its great to see a pattern library focused on decentralised, distributed applications and systems. Its still early days but do get involved if you see something obvious missing from the current 22.

The future of 3D printing is truly impressive

Ian thinks: There is so much covered in this video, everything from 3D printed houses, food and organs. The most impressive for me after the organs is the bio-mimicry printed structures.

If you don’t know dark patterns, this will explain it all in moments

Ian thinks: Really good to share this with people are not clear on the effects of dark patterns, also interesting to see Trump using dark patterns recently.

Sudhir explores the motivations, mistakes and conflicts of mainstream social media

Ian thinks: Although nothing new, its interesting to hear someone who has spent time with gang leaders and street prostitutes; lend his thoughts to the ugly side of social media from the inside out, in new podcast.


Find the archive here

Jury convicts Derek Chauvin of all charges for the murder of George Floyd

#Black Lives Matter and thankfully today accountability started. There is a long journey ahead as lets be very clear, there is a very long journey ahead to over throw systematic racism in policing and justice.

No mushy middle for Ben & Jerrys

At the intersection of activism and confectionary delight is none other than Ben & Jerry’s. The company has stood up for everything from climate change to same sex marriage to Black lives matter and defunding the police. And in June 2020, the brand took a bold stance against white supremacy, proving that in business, silence is no longer an option.

Ben & Jerry have been consistently amazing with their support for many things from climate change to systematic racism. I do wish more companies would learn from them examples. It can easily dismissed as PR in glance but their consistently is the key.

The continuous ability to be better is something which I see is missing in many places. The status-quo must be challenged and Ben & Jerrys are all about this.

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (April 2021)

Deep fake technology

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing how Amazon won’t support public library systems and how good / prevalent deepfake technology is becoming.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with fashion taking on surveillance, Google finally being called out for the not so incognito mode in Chrome and introducing a progressive tax-like system following Apples store changes.


Meet the disruptors at publicspaces

Ian thinks: From the publicspaces conference where you can watch all the talks. I personally found Melanie Rieback and post growth entrepreneurship quite inspirational for all those new startups. We need more of this!

Evidence disappearing right under your nose

Ian thinks: This short documentary from VPRO, highlights the problem with archiving and moderation in critical cases like war crimes.

TransCopyright realised with Micropayments?

Ian thinks: Delivered at Mozfest 2021, Amber got me thinking when she mentions the dream of Ted Nelson’s TransCopyright (co-creator of hypertext) realised using web monetisation for attribution.

Why the excitement over non-fungible tokens?

Ian thinks: March become the month when most people heard the term non-fungible tokens for the first time, likely for a piece of art which sold for the equivalent of 69 million.

Some of the facts and myths surrounding China & America explained

Ian thinks: Useful overview from Wired magazine on the clear differences between the two but also the misconceptions which are portrayed by the media and each other.

We all knew Facebook is hooked on mis-information

Ian thinks: Interesting to see Facebook time their AI fairness paper on the same day. Who are they trying to kid?

A bank is the last place I think about when thinking purpose and human rights?

Ian thinks: I’m not so sure how much is honest in this video but Paypal, are not just saying the right thing but actually doing. Such a important difference from a lot of the D&I efforts being talked about now.

Forget GDP, Its time for a new metric and the UN is engaged

Ian thinks: Its great to hear the UN is considering a move away from GDP to natural capital. Its about time the alternatives are taken deadly seriously, for the benefit of us all. Of course BBC R&D are researching Human Values in a similar mind.

The walled garden is the new security through obscurity?

Ian thinks: Feeling comfortable behind a walled garden can make you reliant on them for security, but like the MIT piece makes clear this can be a bad mistake for your own security


Find the archive here

Automating racism and the UK government

According to a UK Government’s commissioned report, the UK is the model other white majority countries should seek to emulate around race. There is so much to unpick but dismissing the lived experiences of black people reminds me of Women telling people they are not safe when walking the streets. Also easily dismissed as “lived experience/personal opinion/uncommon.” The patriarchy never listens.

I found the interview by Channel4 by one of the people behind the report. Its a frustrating interview churning out all the stereotypes heard many times before.

One of the things I thought about today while out in the sunshine is how much/little is the UK government doing about automated systems they are encourage? Do they even understand the implicit bias with the systems they are putting in place? Surely one look into that will tell you there is systematic racism baked into everything and putting a smile on it all, saying everybody should learn from us is certainly not helpful at all. Maybe they should read how to be an antiracist? Or would that also be classed as “personal opinion?”

Anyway its time to dig through the whole report. I’m sure Dr Jonathan will dig through this at some point?

As always don’t read the comments…

Understanding the effects of consumerism

Got to give it to George Monbiot, in 5mins he sums up so much which is wrong with the consumerism. I did wonder where he was going with the Salmon but in 5mins it was a take down of our capitalist society.

I never got the cult of celebrity, even the cult of sport really. Yes I thought Micheal Jordon was amazing but couldn’t give a rats what they put their name on.  Maybe that attitude also applied to the online world, where I’m not so bothered about popularity and therefore not interested in celebs or follower accounts.

Can’t quite put my finger on what happened in my younger age which drove this in me but glad it happened.

We need to talk about Asian hate crime

Don’t think its just America…!

In the early days of covid19, I can’t tell you how many times I heard people attach China to Covid19, like that was ok?!

No its not ok and its disgraceful as it paves the way for all those hate filled people to pipe up thinking there inner thoughts are now acceptable. Its not and never should be! This is a hate crime and should be tried with the gravity it deserves.

We generally need to stop this, for example naming the variants where first identified. Kent, South African, Brazilian variants. Nothing good will come from this! I understand its easier to say than variant B117 (the one first discovered in Kent) but zero good will come from this… I promise you this.

Understanding makes all the difference

What a difference the police reaction to the vigil of Sarah Everard.

blm protest in bristol

Last year in Bristol with the statue of Carlton

Speaking on a live webchat, the Avon and Somerset Police chief constable said he “doesn’t condone any criminal activity” but intervening would have “risked a violent confrontation”.

Reclain the streets

Last week in London in Clapham Common

The Met Police chief has said she is not considering her position, after the force was criticised over its handling of a vigil for Sarah Everard. Officers handcuffed women and removed them from crowds on Clapham Common in London on Saturday.

The big difference is cultural and emotional intelligence. I seriously don’t understand how the police thought, it would be a good idea to arrest women during a vigil against the death of a woman who was killed at the hands of a police officer!? Someone in the Met police team should have said turned to the chief and said “don’t you see the tragic irony in this all? We need to rethink our tactics here

I know these are isolated cases but I was thinking this while watching

The ever long line of minorities taken advantage of in Silicon Valley

Club house

I saw the story about Clubhouse recording conversations (Found via @aral@mastodon.ar.al of #smalltech).

1. New VC-backed startup enters the scene
2. People flock to it
3. They discover it’s a surveillance capitalist (and still have no clue what that is)
4. They’re shocked (because, see 3)
5. It’s too late, they’re too big and they’ve exited
6. Goto 1

Likewise, I am not shocked or surprised. Its surveillance capitalism in full effect. Worst still, they made their base off the back of minorities like black creators, which is another nasty trend in Silicon Valley. Once the mainstream pile in, the original creators are dashed to the wind or forcefully rejected.

This narrative needs to change…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Mar 2021)

traveling with a passport and boarding pass

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, hearing Bill Maher rip through a bunch of websites and people looking for new ways to track users now 3rd party tracking is on its way out?

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this with more nuanced privacy depth being discussed, participating in Mozilla’s challenges moment and hearing Solana talk through the internet health report.


The background story of Tony Abbotts boarding pass

Ian thinks: We all heard the story about the former Australian minster who was hacked after posting his boarding pass on instagram but here is the incredible background story, told by the hacker.

Vaccine passports are not as simple as the media are suggesting

Ian thinks: Heather gives plain and clear reasons why vaccine passports are not the panacea its being made out to be. Its also great to hear Lillian Edwards framework mentioned (May 2020 newsletter) as a way forward.

Gamestop? Rethinking the whole rigged system

Ian thinks: Douglas Rushkoff’s monologue about gamestop needs a listen for a different view, but stay around for the interview with Yaël, previous head of political advertising at Facebook. She tells all and I like the approach of trying to fix it before criticising.

Lets talk about Sharenting

Ian thinks: Shareting is when parents share their kids photos and private information without their consent. Its become a real problem now the millennials are growing up with a digital footprint without knowing.

How Facebook joined the splinter-net while Google throw the open web under the bus?

Ian thinks: Hearing about the absolute mess over news in Australia, its easy to point fingers. But its important to look deeper at whats really happening for the sake of profits not people. I’m with Shoshana Zuboff and others, but I know many people get their news from these massive corps.

A big step for gigworkers, but lets be diligent of next steps

Ian thinks: The Uber case is great news but in a similar legal play to Facebook & Google with Australia, there might be more going on that most are reporting? We got to look a little deeper as monopoly is Uber’s end game.

Ian thinks: This is a devious way to force a take-down of a live stream or any recorded footage. Theres got to be a better way and I think its related to using alternative platforms or self hosting with syndication.

The centralisation of power is the problem

Ian thinks: I like this summary of so many of the problems with Facebook, but it misses the important point of centralisation. It also highlights Noam Cohen’s quote “Mark Zuckerberg is deluded by his own faith in Facebook’s ability to be a force for good in the world”

Public value and purpose into the future

Ian thinks: Mariana is on fire and this summary of work around the BBC puts value under a microscope. I love this line “Value is not just the income generated at the end of the innovation chain–– it is also the creative input at the upstream end, the vital investment in talent, content creation, digital innovation and R&D at the early stages

Google fires another outspoken AI research, who will be next?

Ian thinks: Margaret Mitchell and Timnit Gebru show there is something going on with Google AI research. It doesn’t take a lot to guess what is actually going on behind close doors.


Find the archive here

Bumble, their retention policy and my GDPR

Bumble launches "Dating Just Got Equal" campaign
I’m sure I have said this multiple times, I really want to like Bumble but every-time I try it again, I’m left with a bad after taste (like poor chocolate). I must learn dating apps don’t get better just worst.
Out of frustration, not with the people on the site (thats a whole different story). The mechanism was painful and annoying to say the least (not because of the females pick first).
So I deleted the app and requested my data from Bumble under GDPR law, as I have done for others previously.
Sent the request on 21st Jan, got the first reply on 23th Jan with the usual identity check. I replied on 24th Jan with the credentials which was made easy with my emails asking Bumble to change a profile element in late 2020. Then on 26th Jan I got this…
Hello,

Just to let you know, I have passed your email on to my supervisor here at Bumble who will get back to you as soon as possible.

We’re currently experiencing an incredibly high volume of emails, so it might take a little while longer than normal to get a response from a supervisor.

While we are working super hard to get to everyone, it may be tempting to send a chase regarding the status of your query. However, please bear in mind that we work on a queue-based system here. This means that sending an additional email may push your query further down in the queue and create a longer delay than we’d like.

Please know we haven’t forgotten about you and we really appreciate your patience during this busy time!

Joel
Bumble Feedback Team

Usually I would be on this like a hawk but I kind of forgot as I lost faith in OKCupid and others too. So Bumble sneaked under my radar till the 26th Feb when I finally received this email.
Hello,

Thank you so much for your patience in waiting for our response.

We’ve been dealing with an incredibly high volume of emails recently and have been working hard to get to your query.

Unfortunately, we are unable to proceed with your request as it appears as though your account was deleted more than 28 days ago.

In line with our retention policy, we begin to erase or anonymise your information upon the deletion of your account, following the safety retention window.

Please see our Privacy Policy for more information about how we use your data and your rights. You can read more about our privacy policy at: https://bumble.com/privacy

Please note that this only pertains to the profile registered to the email address you’ve contacted us from. If you have any profiles registered on Bumble with different contact details, please contact us using the relevant methods linked to those accounts.

Hila
Bumble Feedback Team

This answer absolutely drove me to rage because Bumble are hiding behind their retention policy. The only reason their retention policy kicked in is because they left it over 28 days. Its outrageous and I’m not standing for it.

I have given them 3 days to change their stance before I report them to the ICO. Although I still didn’t hear anything else from the ICO about Houseparty.

Expect to hear more soon!

The Australia Facebook wake-up call

There is so much I want to say about Facebook removing Australian news media from their platform, but I’d rather let things shake out a little because I’m sure it will change everyday in the next week. Similar to not really talking about the Gamestop news last week.

However I mainly agree with Prof Zuboff about Facebook. As soon as it doesn’t suit there business model they will forcefully remove it from their platform. This is wakeup call for all not just the Australian government.

This has been super clear for years and having just finished Adam Curtis’ Can’t get you out of my head. Its once again clear, this is a important point for democracy and freedom.

Unfortunately I think its clear where I think this will go…

Public Service Internet monthly newsletter (Feb 2021)

Survillence everywhere
Photo by Matthew Henry on Unsplash

We live in incredible times with such possibilities that is clear. Although its easily dismissed, seeing the de-platforming and even the royals snubbing social media.

To quote Buckminster Fuller “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.

You are seeing aspects of this the privacy first search engine duck duck go surpassing 100 million daily searches, the move to Signal messager from Whatsapp causing it to fall over temporarily and Facebook forced to rethinking their strategy.


Its the Internet’s health check up time!

Ian thinks: Mozilla’s well researched look at the state of the internet is a one of those reports which spurs thought and action for the coming year. Its been a tricky year with lots of up and downs, nicely documented in this massively detailed report/playbook. You might recognise someone in the report.

How can we achieve public spaces online?

Ian thinks: on 11-12 March a online conference by a number of partners including BBC R&D bring together organisations and vendors who are interested in the development of a public stack in line with the principles of democratic, sustainable etc. This is all part of the Mozilla Festival 2021 which is in Amsterdam for the next 3 years. Tickets are now available for Mozfest. and the publicspaces conference.

The new state of the self sovereign internet

Ian thinks: A deep dive but also accessible look at the current state of decentralised technology like self sovereign identity. Maybe one of the better summaries.

Some of the challenges to decetralisation

Ian thinks: The post has quite a few errors within it, like how they keep referring to Mastodon as a single network and missed the memo how Gab removed themselves off Mastodon. BlueSky sounds only slightly interesting, but the core of this post is focused around the risk of extreme groups using decentralised technology.

Imagine a Buddhist-inspired AI

Ian thinks: A truly real rethink of AI ethics based around Buddhist ethos is something worth pursuing. There is a lot of modern life which could be re-thought with a eastern view.

Do Facebook really think we won’t notice?

Ian thinks: Will the name change from Libra to Diem make any difference? Its still got Facebook behind the scenes and almost all the original backers have left.

The future of shopping faces the same dilemma as everyone else

Ian thinks: Its later in the video when Ian talks privacy and luxury but also luxury and personalisation. Its good to hear these discussions happening in the retail world too.

(How) will Public Service survive Silicon Valley?

Ian thinks: Although this well written paper focuses on public service broadcasting, I would consider the wider question of publicservice full stop.  Its clear the likes of Uber, Airbnb, Amazon, Facebook etc are aiming to replace public utilities  Of course I think so but publicservice needs to double down on things which break silicon valley

How eXistenZ, Pizzagate, Qanon and Augmented reality all fit together?

Ian thinks: Mark Pesce is interviewed by Douglas Rushkoff for team human, and its quite a fascinating interview linking all these topics together.

Ring doorbells get on the E2E train

Ian thinks: Well its about time, but expect more E2E and Zero-knowledge buzz words to be thrown around this year. Question will always be, are they actually doing what they say they are? Looking at you Zoom.


Find the archive here

Inequality and the Covid19 vaccine

Here it is again, inequality is in full affect around the Covid19 vaccine.

The figures of the vaccine buying in richer nations is insane, and on the other side I really hope the Covax scheme is successful. However its clear there is a big question of timing, how many people will die in developing nations while the developed nations vaccinate themselves?

As the video points out vaccinating the world has never happened before. This a critical as we saw with the EU considering article 16.

Inequality affects everything.