Mozilla Explains: Dating apps, AI and collaborative filtering

Ann Marie Carrothers from Mozilla is absolutely right, its something I have mentioned many times and recently decided enough is enough. Weirdly I have never had the discussion with Ann-Marie in person?

I avoid all dating apps and services which don’t allow me to search my own way through the people. I’m so sick of the systems forcing one way of interacting usually the tinder swiping.

For example OKCupid on the mobile app won’t allow you to search for people who use geeks in there profile. I can hear people say, “why on earth would you want this?!”

Uniqueness!

I’m personally not interested in generic people, I’m after unique people.

Uniquness in dating

Instead of searching through millions of profiles, why not cut through noise by finding someone who cares enough to add it to their profile? For example geek with my other filters in the website (like gender, age, distance, etc) got down to two women.

Uniquness in dating

My search for feminism got down to one woman.

Its not for everyone but thats fine, because the notion of swiping left and right looking at profile pictures isn’t for everybody either.

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

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

Its fascinating to see how the question, how normal am I hits home

How normal am I?

I was watching the NGI Policy Summit last week and it was good. Lots to take away but I found What your face reveals – the story of HowNormalAmI.eu. Stuck out as one of the highlights.

Dutch media artist Tijmen Schep will launch his latest work – an online interactive documentary that judges you through your webcam, and explains how face detection algorithms are invisibly pervading our lives. Can we really asses someone’s beauty, BMI or even life expectancy from just a photo of their face? After experiencing his creation, we’ll dive into the ‘making of’ and emerge with a better understanding of what face detection AI can – and cannot – do.

If you haven’t seen it, give it a try.

But I found the social media responses really interesting. It seems half the people are talking and sharing their data, while the other half are talking about the details. People can’t help themselves and compare the details although they know its bias.

Its a provoking art project and deserves to be watched fully. Theres plenty of details here once you watched/experienced it.

Clearview AI GDPR’s reply

Today I got my reply from Clearview AI after I submitted my request

Clearview AI GDPR request submitted

The reply was short…

Subject: No Results

Hello,
You are receiving this email as a response to your request for data access. After running the photo provided through our algorithm, no results were found.
You can click here to learn more about how Clearview collects the images that appear as search results, and how those images are used and shared.
Regards,
Clearview Privacy Team
I don’t buy it… and feel like I should try again with a slightly different picture for reference. I was looking forward to reporting them to the ICO, although they never followed up on my houseparty complaint.

Clearview AI GDPR request submitted

Clearview AI

There is so much to say about Clearview AI. If you never heard of them, well put it this way…

They have amassed a database of peoples faces by illegally scraping the likes of facebook, twitter, instagram, youtube, flickr, etc, etc… All the companies have sent legal cease and desists but Clearview don’t seem to really care too much. Recently they were hacked allowing exposing all those pictures and training data to attackers.

Because of this and my experience with the IBM Dif project, I wanted to know if I’m in the database and the best way to find out is to send a GDPR request. This all follows my GDPR request from Houseparty just recently,

I think they have gotten serious about the EU and the UK because I didn’t need to send my usual email. I filled in the form using my junk mail and used my Estonian digital ID for verification.

Look forward to seeing what comes back. I’m expecting quite a lot.

Of course IBM, Microsoft and Amazon have backed away (for now) from their facial recognition systems because the huge amount of bias of the datasets have against black people. We will see how long they will keep this line over the year and next year?

Update
In my inbox from for the two requests…

EU/UK/Switzerland Data Access Form Request
EU/UK/Switzerland Data Objection Form Request

This e-mail is to confirm that we have received your EU/UK/Switzerland Data (Access/Objection) Request. We will get back to you as soon as possible.

Sincerely,

Team Clearview

Facial recognition technology stealing our feelings

Stealing ur feelings

I really loved do not track, and was happy to see Stealing Ur Feelings.

Stealing Ur Feelings is an augmented reality experience that reveals how your favorite apps can use facial emotion recognition technology to make decisions about your life, promote inequalities, and even destabilize American democracy. Using the AI techniques described in corporate patents, Stealing Ur Feelings learns your deepest secrets just by analyzing your face.

It narrowly missed out on November’s public service internet notes.

Manufacturing algorithmic good behaviour?

Taxi sign

I read that Uber is now going to start punishing users with low scores by cutting them off.

Uber is now requiring the same good behavior from riders that it has long expected from its drivers. Uber riders have always had ratings, but they were never really at risk of deactivation — until now. Starting today, riders in the U.S. and Canada are now at risk of deactivation if their rating falls significantly below a city’s average.

“Respect is a two-way street, and so is accountability,” Uber Head of Safety Brand and Initiatives Kate Parker wrote in a blog post. “Drivers have long been required to meet a minimum rating threshold which can vary city to city. While we expect only a small number of riders to ultimately be impacted by ratings-based deactivations, it’s the right thing to do.”

For drivers, they face a risk of deactivation if they fall below 4.6, according to leaked documents from 2015. Though, average ratings are city-specific. Uber, however, is not disclosing the average rider rating, but says “any rider at risk of losing access will receive several notifications and opportunities to improve his or her rating,” an Uber spokesperson told TechCrunch.

This is another example of the insanity of  algorithmic telling off and the secrecy is stupid.

Airbnb telling off
Airbnb telling off for my 4.8 rating

Airbnb is still telling me off/trying to help with my score of 4.8/5 with 34 Total reviews and 76% 5 star reviews.

Mainly because I don’t accept most people into my flat. There’s no understanding about timing, workload, etc. In the algorithms view, everyone should be maximizing the amount of people using the flat. They keep trying to push auto-booking on me. I expect it will become a requirement one day and I’ll leave Airbnb as its completely unsuitable for me.

The whole idea of perfection is flawed and humans are never perfect. Sure Douglas Rushkoff has lots to say about this in #Teamhuman.

Update June 2nd

Talking of Uber, there was interesting piece in the Guardian around the same time, which could apply to Airbnb too. What is Uber? Forget the sharing economy – it’s just a libertarian scam.

 

IBM DIF project removes my flickr urls


Hopefully the final follow up from my post about facial recognitions dirty little secret millions of online photos scraped without consent. and the update.

Thank you for your prompt response. We confirm that we have deleted from the DiF dataset all the URLs linked to your Flickr ID and associated annotations. We have also deleted your Flickr ID from our records. IBM will require our research partners to comply with your deletion request and provide IBM with confirmation of compliance.

Best regards,

IBM Research DiF team

End of the matter, although part of me wants to contact everybody in the photos and tell them what happened. Not sure what that would achieve however?

IBM Dif project returns the full list of photos scraped without consent

Then I got a further 2 replies from IBM. One of them is IBM asking if I want my GDPR data for everything regarding IBM? But the 2nd one is from IBM Diversity in faces project.
Thank you for your response and for providing your Flickr ID. We located 207 URLs in the DiF dataset that are associated with your Flickr ID. Per your request, the list of the 207 URLs is attached to this email (in the file called urls_it.txt). The URLs link to public Flickr images.
For clarity, the DiF dataset is a research initiative, and not a commercial application and it does not contain the images themselves, but URLs such as the ones in the attachment.
Let us know if you would like us to remove these URLs and associated annotations from the DiF dataset. If so, we will confirm when this process has been completed and your Flickr ID has been removed from our records.
Best regards,
IBM Research DiF Team

So I looked up how to Wget all the pictures from the text file they supplied. and downloaded the lot, so I can get a sense of which photos were public/private and if the licence was a conflict. I think hiding behind the notion of the link is a little cheeky but theres so much discussion about hyperlinking to material.

Most of the photos are indeed public but there are a few which I can’t find in a public image search. If they are private, then somethings wrong and I’ll be beating IBM over the head with it.

Facial recognition’s ‘dirty little secret’: Millions of online photos scraped without consent

By Olivia Solon

Facial recognition can log you into your iPhone, track criminals through crowds and identify loyal customers in stores.

The technology — which is imperfect but improving rapidly — is based on algorithms that learn how to recognize human faces and the hundreds of ways in which each one is unique.

To do this well, the algorithms must be fed hundreds of thousands of images of a diverse array of faces. Increasingly, those photos are coming from the internet, where they’re swept up by the millions without the knowledge of the people who posted them, categorized by age, gender, skin tone and dozens of other metrics, and shared with researchers at universities and companies.

When I first heard about this story I was annoyed but didn’t think too much about it. Then later down the story, its clear they used creative commons Flickr photos.

“This is the dirty little secret of AI training sets. Researchers often just grab whatever images are available in the wild,” said NYU School of Law professor Jason Schultz.

The latest company to enter this territory was IBM, which in January released a collection of nearly a million photos that were taken from the photo hosting site Flickr and coded to describe the subjects’ appearance. IBM promoted the collection to researchers as a progressive step toward reducing bias in facial recognition.

But some of the photographers whose images were included in IBM’s dataset were surprised and disconcerted when NBC News told them that their photographs had been annotated with details including facial geometry and skin tone and may be used to develop facial recognition algorithms. (NBC News obtained IBM’s dataset from a source after the company declined to share it, saying it could be used only by academic or corporate research groups.)

And then there is a checker to see if your photos were used in the teaching of machines. After typing my username, I found out I have 207 photo(s) in the IBM dataset. This is one of them:

Not my choice of photo, just the one which comes up when using the website

Georg Holzer, uploaded his photos to Flickr to remember great moments with his family and friends, and he used Creative Commons licenses to allow nonprofits and artists to use his photos for free. He did not expect more than 700 of his images to be swept up to study facial recognition technology.

“I know about the harm such a technology can cause,” he said over Skype, after NBC News told him his photos were in IBM’s dataset. “Of course, you can never forget about the good uses of image recognition such as finding family pictures faster, but it can also be used to restrict fundamental rights and privacy. I can never approve or accept the widespread use of such a technology.”

I have a similar view to Georg, I publish almost all my flickr photos under a creative commons non-commercial sharealike licence. I swear this has been broken. I’m also not sure if the pictures are all private or not. But I’m going to find out thanks to GDPR

There may, however, be legal recourse in some jurisdictions thanks to the rise of privacy laws acknowledging the unique value of photos of people’s faces. Under Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation, photos are considered “sensitive personal information” if they are used to confirm an individual’s identity. Residents of Europe who don’t want their data included can ask IBM to delete it. If IBM doesn’t comply, they can complain to their country’s data protection authority, which, if the particular photos fall under the definition of “sensitive personal information,” can levy fines against companies that violate the law.

Expect a GDPR request soon IBM! Anything I can do to send a message I wasn’t happy with this.

If you have no control over your identity you are but a slave?

How self sovereign identity could work

Its twice I heard something similar to this now.

First time was from Gregor Žavcer at MyData 2018 in Helsinki. I remember when he started saying if you have no control over your identity you are but a slave (power-phased of course). There was a bit of awe from the audience, including myself. Now to be fair he justified everything he said but I didn’t make note of the references he made, as he was moving quite quickly. I did note down something about no autonomy is data without self.

Then today at the BBC Blueroom AI Society & the Media event, I heard Konstantinos Karachalios say something very similar. To be fair I was unsure of the whole analogy when I first heard it but there seems to be some solid grounding for this all.

This is why the very solution of a self sovereign identity (SSI) as proposed by Kaliya Young and others during Mydata speaks volume to us all deep down. The videos, notes from that session are not up yet but I gather it was all recorded and will be up soon. However I found her slides from when she talked at the decentralized web summit.

This looks incredible as we shift closer to the Dweb (I’m thinking there was web 1.0, then web 2.0 and now Dweb, as web 3.0/semantic web didn’t quite take root). There are many questions including service/application support and the difficulty of getting one. This certainly where I agree with Aral about the design of this all, the advantages could be so great but if it takes extremely good technical knowledge to get one, then its going to be stuck on the ground for a long time, regardless of the critical advantages.

I was reminded of the sad tale of what happened to Open ID, really hoping this doesn’t go the same way.

Human & AI Powered Creativity in Storytelling from TOA Berlin 2017

I already wrote about TOA Berlin and the different satellite events I also took part in. I remember how tired I was getting to Berlin late and then being on stage early doors with the multiple changes on public transport, I should have just taken a cab really.

No idea what was up with my voice, but it certainly sounds a little odd.

Anyhow lots of interesting ideas were bunched into the slide deck, and certainly caused a number of long conversations afterwards.

Google apologizes again for bias results

Google once again was in hot water for its algorthim which meant looking up happy families in image search would return results of happy white famalies.

Of course the last time, Google photos classified black people as gorillas.

Some friends have been debating this and suggested it wasn’t so bad, but its clear that after a few days things were tweaked. Of course Google are one of many who rely on non-diverse training data and likely are coding their biases into the code/algorithms. Because of course getting real diverse training data is expensive and time consuming; I guess in the short term so is building a diverse team in their own eyes?

Anyway here’s what I get when searching for happy families on Friday 2nd June about 10pm BST.

logged in google search for happy families
Logged into Google account using Chrome on Ubuntu
incognito search for happy families
Using incognito mode and searching for happy families with Chrome on Ubuntu
Search for happy families using a russian tor and chromium
Search for happy families using a russian tor node on Chromium on Ubuntu

 

A little assistance please?

https://twitter.com/slackhq/status/596830290754084864

Everybody on slack recently got a message from Slack about using Slack bots for reminders, to-do lists, etc. It’s a small thing but interesting to see more and more of the thoughts in the famous article Tim Burners-Lee wrote in Scientific America (so popular it actually costs money to read it!) about the Semantic web. (The closes we’ve got to that reality is Google now, which is highly propitery of course.)

It also reminds me of Matt’s post about bots being like plants. which I mentioned previously.

Theres been a long running task on my todo list to take advantage of telegram bots in leui of jabber/xmpp bots, it’s hardly surprising as they are very useful and who wouldn’t turn down some assistance now and there?