Tag Archives: google

DuckDuckGo vs Google Chrome

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Last month, Google announced the launch of a new web technology called Federated Learning of Cohorts (FLoC), which would gradually replace the tradition of browsers and third-party websites storing user data (cookies). However, privacy-focused companies such as Brave, DuckDuckGo, Vivaldi, and others denied Google’s request to incorporate FloC in their respective browsers. They also argue that Google’s algorithm is overall harmful to the users.

Firstly let us illustrate what ‘Cookies’ do.

Cookies are text files containing small amounts of data that are used to mark your device when you connect to a computer network. They allow websites to remember you, your website logins, shopping carts, and other information. When a user returns to a website, the website recognizes that he or she has already visited and allows the user to continue where they left off.

Cookies are primarily used to better understand user habits (e.g., most visited websites, most recently purchased or observed items) and to provide better search results. Advertisers may use this information to display targeted advertisements for goods that are likely to appeal to that individual and result in a purchase.

Google believes FLoC is the perfect alternative to cookies and encourages others to use it.

FLoC, according to the company, would enable users to remain anonymous when browsing websites, as well as increase privacy by allowing publishers to display specific ads to groups. Rather than being tracked individually, the browsing history would be grouped with other people who have similar interests. In addition, if the user’s browsing behavior changes, the user is grouped with other users. As a result Companies would be less likely to build individual profiles based of this information.

FLoC is considered by Google to be a fair, privacy-first function, however DuckDuckGo tries to communicate that there are several gaps in how it operates. The first is that since you’ve already been allocated to a group, advertisers would have an easier time identifying you.

“With FLoC, by simply browsing the web, you are automatically placed into a group based on your browsing history. Websites you visit will immediately be able to access this group FLoC ID and use it to target ads or content at you. It’s like walking into a store where they already know all about you! In addition, while FLoC is purported to be more private because it is a group, combined with your IP address (which also gets automatically sent to websites) you can continue to be tracked easily as an individual.”

Second, there is no way to opt out of it. You have some control over what information is stored about you with cookies, but you won’t have that choice here.

All in all, DuckDuck Go states that FLoC will allow Google to store all the information about you on their servers, which in the end will be more beneficial for the advertisers and e-commerce websites. With their move where they advise to stop using Chrome they say that they just want to stop Google tracking behaviour of people.

DuckDuckGo has also published a guide on how to avoid FLoC, as well as some offensive countermeasures to Google’s new ploy. The first point of the guide explicitly tells people to stop using Google Chrome. They also demonstrated some options in Chrome’s settings menu that could be helpful to users’ privacy. DuckDuckGo’s Chrome extension has also been modified to block FLoC.

Sources:

https://spreadprivacy.com/block-floc-with-duckduckgo/

https://fossbytes.com/duckduckgo-guide-block-google-floc/

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A.I Bias: Is Google doing more harm than good?

Reading Time: 4 minutes

How is Google tackling the negative impact of algorithmic bias? Considering Google’s recent upheavals, it seems as though Google is trying to conceal AI bias and ethical concerns.

What Google's Firing of Researcher Timnit Gebru Means for AI Ethics

Timnit Gebru, a well-respected leader in AI bias and ethics research unexpectedly left Google earlier this month. Gebru says she was fired via email over the publication of a research paper because it “didn’t meet the bar for publication”. However, Google states that Gebru resigned voluntarily. More than 5,300 people, including over 2,200 Google employees, have now signed an open letter protesting Google’s treatment of Gebru and demanding that the company explain itself.

The research paper Gebru coauthored criticized large language models, the kind used in Google’s sprawling search engine. The paper argued such language models could hurt marginalized communities. The conflict over the publication of this research paper is what caused Gebru’s takeoff.

Gebru and her co-authors explain in the paper how there’s a lot wrong with large language models. For the most part, because they are trained on huge bodies of existing text, and the systems are inclined to absorb a lot of existing human bias, predominantly about race and gender. The paper states that the large models take in so much data which makes it awfully difficult to audit and test; hence some of this bias may go undetected.

The paper additionally highlighted the adverse environmental impact as the training and running of such huge language models on electricity-craving servers leaves a significant amount of carbon footprint. It noted that BERT, Google’s own language model, produced approximately 1,438 pounds of carbon dioxide, around the same amount of a round-trip flight from New York to San Francisco.

Moreover, The authors argue that efforts to build systems that might actually “understand” language and learn more efficiently, in the way humans do are robbed by spending resources on building ever so large language models.

The reason behind why Google might have been especially upset with Gebru and her co-authors scrutinizing the ethics of large language models is on the grounds that, Google has a considerable amount of resources invested in this piece of technology.

Google has its own large language model, called BERT that it has used to help power search results in several languages including English. BERT is also used by other companies to assemble their own language processing software.

BERT is optimized to run on Google’s own specialized A.I computer processors. It is exclusively accessible to clients of its cloud computing service. If a company is looking into training and running one of its own language models, it will require a lot of cloud computing time. Hence, companies are more inclined to use Google’s BERT. BERT is a key feature of Google’s business, generating about $26.3 billion in revenue. According to Kjell Carlsson, a technology analyst, the market for such large language models is “poised to explode”.

This market opportunity is exactly what Gebru and her coauthors are criticizing and condemning Google’s profit maximization aim over ethical and humanitarian concerns.

Google has struggled with being called out for negative bias in artificial intelligence in the past as well. In 2016, Google was heavily faulted for racial bias when users noticed that when they searched “three white teenagers” the results were stock photos of Caucasian cheerful adolescents. When searched “three black teenagers” the algorithm offered an array of mug shots. The same search, with “Asian” substituted for “white,” resulted in various  links to pornography. Google also came under fire in July 2015 when its photo app autonomously labeled a pair of black friends as Gorillas. These are only a few instances out of several. And not just results, the predicted results are no less misleading and harmful.  Such bias must be curtailed as it reinforces (untrue) negative stereotypes and harms POC communities.

In the end, it is unfortunate that Google (including other giant tech corporations) still faces the challenge of eliminating negative bias in artificial intelligence. At a Google conference in 2017, the company’s then head of artificial intelligence said we don’t need to worry about killer robots; instead, we need to worry about bias.

 The current lead of Google AI, Jeff  Dean said in 2017, “when an algorithm is fed a large collection of text, it will teach itself to recognize words which are commonly put together. You might learn, for example, an unfortunate connotation, which is that doctor is more associated with the word ‘he’ than ‘she’, and nurse is more associated with the word ‘she’ than ‘he’. But you’d also learn that surgeon is associated with scalpel and that carpenter is associated with hammer. So a lot of the strength of these algorithms is that they can learn these kinds of patterns and correlations”.

The task, says Jeff Dean, is to work out which biases you want an algorithm to pick up on, and it is the science behind this that his team, and many in the AI field, are trying to navigate.

“It’s a bit hard to say that we’re going to come up with a perfect version of unbiased algorithms.”

https://www.bbc.com/news/business-46999443

References:

https://docs.google.com/document/d/1f2kYWDXwhzYnq8ebVtuk9CqQqz7ScqxhSIxeYGrWjK0/edit

https://googlewalkout.medium.com/standing-with-dr-timnit-gebru-isupporttimnit-believeblackwomen-6dadc300d382

https://theconversation.com/upheaval-at-google-signals-pushback-against-biased-algorithms-and-unaccountable-ai-151768

https://www.technologyreview.com/2020/12/04/1013294/google-ai-ethics-research-paper-forced-out-timnit-gebru/

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Google stores over 50 milion Americans’ medical records – Project Nightingale

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We all know, that leakage of personal data isn’t anything new nowadays. There are many reasons for collecting your data by big companies. Many of them focus on earning money, by targeting ads based on data concerning your behavior and interests. In Project Nigtigale’s case, however, Google aims at something much bigger.

Project Nightingale owes the name after Florence Nightingale who was an English social reformer and the founder of modern nursing in the 19th century. Project Nightingale is a data storage and processing project made by Google Cloud and Ascencion, which set on foot in early 2019. Their main goal is to design new software using artificial intelligence to predict or more quickly identify medical conditions and suggest changes to patients care. Additionally, the company aims to create a search tool that collects patients’ data into a central location. Google is said to be using medical records of more than 50 million American people from 2600 hospitals in 21 states. The shared data includes patient names and their dates of birth, along with doctor diagnoses, lab records, and hospitalization results. Health data was stored on an Ascension-owned virtual private space.

Despite its great purpose, patients and physicians across 21 states haven’t been informed about their data sharing. Because of this, there were many speculations about whether is this project morally equitable. David Feinberg – the head of Google Health – responded to all criticism.  Due to his position – a physician – he said, that he understands that health information should be private and as he refers – Google is not permitted to use that for marketing or research purposes. However, we can’t be sure that the personal pieces of information were strictly sheltered. People are afraid of the potential break-in by hackers.

The Office of Civil Rights of HHS is demanding more details about Project Nightingale to ensure HIPPA (Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act) protections have been implemented.

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Would you give up your personal data for the development of medical care in the future?

Share with us your opinion!

 

 

Author: Maciej Dziurdzia

Sources:

https://geek.justjoin.it/projekt-nightingale-google-dane-medyczne/

https://www.beckershospitalreview.com/cybersecurity/10-things-to-know-about-project-nightingale.html

https://www.theguardian.com/technology/2019/nov/14/google-healthcare-data-ascension

https://www.nytimes.com/2019/11/11/business/google-ascension-health-data.html

 

 

 

 

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Quantum power

Reading Time: 2 minutes

We all heard about supercomputers that are bigger than some houses and make enormous calculations. Also term of artificial intelligence or machine learning is getting popular. Slowly we are living in a world driven by data and all actions are made by programs.

In order to make more advance operations and use more sophisticated technology we need something different than another bigger computer. Than comes quantum computer

What is a quantum computer?

Our computers work in regular way. They can store information as 1 or 0 states called bits. Simply it means that when we have more data we use more bits and so on. Quantum computer works differently. It stores memory in a superposition of classical states and the basic unit of it is called qubit. They are in an indeterminate state between 0 and 1. It allows to make calculations much faster and efficient, but it’s not the biggest advantage of a quantum computing. Every qubit is connected in some way to other qubits and effect on each other within one computer. It means that there is a much shorter way for information to get through, than in classical computers. It enables to extremely shorten the time needed for all sort of difficult operations. However due to it’s a different state, qubits can sometimes fail and have errors, so they need to be constantly checking each other. It is said that a quantum computer can make calculations that would take 10 thousand years of today’s most powerful computer to solve, in just a few minutes. It opens a way for science and technology to work in completely new fields with a new great power to use. It will be crucial in fields like space travel, machine learning or data science. On the other hand, it is unlikely to be used in every household instead of classic computer.

The first one

Just a few weeks ago it seems that we have a breakthrough point for this industry. Google claimed to create a first fully working quantum computer in the world. The processor that operates this computer is called Sycamore. It works with 53 qubits. When it would be expanded to 70 qubits the biggest computer in the world would need to be the size of a city to reach it’s power. IBM is also working on it’s own project with quantum computing, but it is the Google which is the first. We don’t know yet how to use it for something particular, but we it is powerful.

 

References

Quantum computing’s ‘Hello World’ moment

https://www.ibm.com/quantum-computing/learn/what-is-quantum-computing/

https://ai.google/research/teams/applied-science/quantum/

https://www.scientificamerican.com/article/hands-on-with-googles-quantum-computer/

https://www.wired.com/story/why-googles-quantum-computing-victory-is-a-huge-deal-and-a-letdown/

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Data is a new oil?

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Until recently, companies managed just traditional assets such as machines, money and intellectual property. The digital era brought a new type of asset – data. This is the raw material from which forecasts, insights and very big money currently are made.

Big data is becoming the main driver of growth for companies and a new resource for the economy. Companies collect data on customer behavior and equipment operation along the way creating new services based on received information.

The only problem is that people usually are not aware of what data is collected from them which creates many legal disputes on whether companies allowed or not to “spy on their clients”. With adoption of data protection rules in many countries all around the world, tech giants such as Facebook, Google or Amazon are facing a real threat for their businesses.

The common phrase “data is new oil” has become dangerous for companies whose business depends on third-party data. In my opinion, comparison is not completely wrong because who controls the data controls the entire market. But for tech giants, comparison with oil barons can result in image deterioration, luck of trust and loss of customers.

Because of that Google’s chief financial officer, Ruth Porat, speaking at the World Economic Forum in Davos, tried to popularize a more upbeat way of describing data: “data is more like sunlight than oil,” adding, “It is like sunshine — we keep using it, and it keeps regenerating.”

It is clear that if Google is considered to be an environmentally friendly solar power station, and not a vertically integrated oil company, then so many questions are immediately removed. I do not think everything will work out right away, but the attempt is worthy: the desire to compare technology companies with oil bars is also exaggerated and very incomplete analogy. Maybe it will end up finding an adequate middle.

Sources:

https://www.businessinsider.com/google-data-is-more-like-sunlight-than-oil-france-gdpr-fine-57-million-2019-1?IR=T

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Alibaba’s AI Customer Service is much better than Google Duplex

Reading Time: 2 minutes

A long-standing goal of an interaction between humans and computers has been to enable people to have a free conversation with machines, as they would with each other. In recent years, we have witnessed a revolution in the ability of computers to understand and to generate natural speech, especially with the application of deep neural networks.

One of the inventions in this area was Google Duplex. As you probably know, Duplex is a technology for conducting natural conversations to carry out “real world” tasks over the phone. The technology is directed towards completing specific tasks, such as scheduling certain types of appointments. For such tasks, the system makes the conversational experience as natural as possible, allowing people to speak normally, like they would to another person, without having to adapt to a machine. For example, Duplex can automatically reserve a table for you in a restaurant, using a phone call to a manager.

While Google is still testing and developing their new system on a small amount of Pixel phone Users, another giant tech company Alibaba already has a working model. It is used not for restaurants, but for an even narrower niche – the delivery of goods. At an annual AI research gathering, the e-commerce giant demoed a sample conversation where the voice-assistant was tasked to ask a customer where the package should be delivered.

The most amazing thing is that Alibaba’s voice assistant was able to deal with some controversial situations during the dialog such as interruption (pauses), nonlinear conversation (customer starts a new line of inquiry), and implicit intent (customer doesn’t explicitly says what he actually means). It is an amazing new which also once again underlines the superiority of China in the field of artificial intelligence, by the way. Currently, the agent is used only to coordinate package deliveries, but it could also be expanded to handle other topics.

Sources:

fossbytes.com/alibabas-ai-customer-service-is-way-ahead-of-google-duplex/

https://www.technologyreview.com/s/612511/alibaba-already-has-a-voice-assistant-way-better-than-googles/

https://www.techspot.com/news/77782-alibaba-already-has-voice-assistant-way-better-than.html

https://ai.googleblog.com/2018/05/duplex-ai-system-for-natural-conversation.html

venturebeat.com/2018/11/21/googles-duplex-is-rolling-out-to-pixel-owners-heres-how-it-works/

 

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How Google was trying to hide the Dragonfly project

Reading Time: 3 minutes

For the first time, information that Google is developing a censored search engine codenamed Dragonfly was revealed in the late summer of this year. It was reported by The Intercept with reference to internal leaks. And, as it turned out, an aura of secrecy has been around the project for several years.

This is not unusual for new movies, games, services, and so on. However, in this case the situation was different. The task of Dragonfly was monitoring and filtering information because the customer was the Chinese government.

Inside the company, about the project became known in February 2017, although some top managers were discussing this issue since 2016. Top executives told the engineers that the search engine infrastructure would depend on a Chinese partner company with data centers in Beijing or Shanghai. The latter means that the Chinese government could receive any data from these servers. In addition, the system must associate user’s requests with their phone numbers. And considering a fact that in China exists a database with telephone numbers of all people, this means an unequivocal identification of all users.

One of the participants in the Dragonfly was Yonatan Zunger, who was offered to work on a search engine secret project. But after some time, he declared to management that such a system is unacceptable and would violate human rights in China. In response to these claims, the head of the “Chinese” direction, Scott Beaumont, did everything so that Zunger and other dissenters no longer participated in the project and knew nothing about it.

In the same 2017, Zunger left the company but three of his followers are still working there and agreed to disclose some new details, of course, on conditions of anonymity. In particular, according to them, the participants and developers of Dragonfly held meetings with a high secrecy regime. There were no written notes or other open communication. At the same time, out of 88,000 Google employees, only a few people knew about the essence of the project. Some were threatened with dismissal if they discussed the essence of their work with colleagues. According to one of the company’s employee, management took all measures to minimize data leaks.

After disclosing information, some human rights groups such as Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch openly condemned the project and said that the company could become an accomplice in human rights violations in China. Later, the US Senate joined the case, and Vice President Michael Pence demanded that Google stop developing Dragonfly.

However, despite the internal and external resistance, the project was launched. And recently, the company officially confirmed the fact of development. Google executive director Sundar Pichai said that the corporation is considering the possibility of returning to the Chinese market, from which the company was forced to left in 2006 due to a number of blockings.

At the same time, according to The Intercept, co-founder Sergey Brin was personally interested in returning to Chinese territory, as Beaumont said. Allegedly, the co-founder of the company met with high-ranking Chinese officials to discuss the return. At the same time, Brin himself had previously denied the possibility of censorship and claimed that he had learned about Dragonfly only from the media.

One way or another, but the situation around the “censor” search engine has split Google. Recently, a number of employees signed an open petition against it. It is not clear how this story will end, but it can seriously shake Google’s market position.

 

Sources:

https://www.bloomberg.com/opinion/articles/2018-12-10/china-s-huawei-retaliation-could-punish-u-s-companies

https://www.theverge.com/2018/12/10/18134563/human-rights-amnesty-google-dragonfly-china-search

techcrunch.com/2018/11/28/google-dragonfly-letter/

https://theintercept.com/collections/google-dragonfly-china/

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A system that makes calls for you – Google Duplex

Reading Time: 2 minutes

Are you the kind of person that hates phone calls, or do you have too little time to handle them all?


Google has announced a system that will solve your problem. It is finally possible to have a natural conversation with computers. Google’s new AI system, Google Duplex, sounds as natural as a real human being! It understands, contextualizes and has correct timing.

Here is an example of how Duplex could schedule an appointment at the hair salon for you.

 

Of course, this could be invaluable in the business world. Duplex could:

  • allow organizations to reduce their customer service teams,
  • allow customers to book at any time, even in the middle of the night,
  • remind customers about their upcoming appointments and reduce no-shows,
  • give information that is not available online – and upload the information online to reduce similar calls.

 

One would expect that a system like this would have a lot of bugs and would not work in the real life. Watch Duplex talking to a woman that barely speaks English and making an appointment at a restaurant.

 

For normal users Duplex could also be very useful and could save people time. This graphic shows an usual way to use Duplex.

According to www.wired.com the technology is, unfortunately, not perfect yet. WIRED writer, Lauren Goode, answered a call in a demo in June. She was very surprised that Duplex sounded just like a real person and she thinks this can be disorientating. She managed, however, to confuse the bot by saying something about allergies in the middle of a discussion about available times for a restaurant reservation.

According to neowin.net, there is also going to be a new feature that works together with Duplex. It enables the Assistant to respond to and reject unwanted commercials with minimal imput. It will also provide transcripts.

Google has announced that Duplex will be available on their smartphones, Pixel. However, this is for now only available in a few big cities in the US. There is no information on when, or if at all, it is going to be launched in Europe, but for the moment it’s still considered in the experimental phase. 

 


Do you think that Google Duplex will become a revolutionary system? What would you use it for? Let me know in the comments!


 

More info at:

AI Google Blog, 25th November 2018

Wired, 25th November 2018

TechRadar, 25th November 2018

VentureBeat, 25th November 2018

Business Insider, 25th November 2018

Neowin, 25th November 2018

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Ivyrevel Digital Fashion House: Discovery or Empty Promise?

Reading Time: 3 minutesIvyrevel is a clothes brand founded in 2003, which officially is a part of H&M global business group since 2016. It was co-founded by popular Swedish fashion blogger Kenza Zouten Subosic, and have been heavily promoted by her through social media channels as well as through her blog (kenzas.se). Ivyrevel already has been on the market for several seasons, but last year the founders have decided to offer a brand new and innovative relaunch that will turn it into the first truly digital fashion house. H&M is a major investor to offer strategic and production support. Another partner is Paypal, which is supposed to provide advisory services on payment and distribution issues.

Ivyrevel clothes are inspired by urban contrasts, strong independent women and by the contemporary now. Its style is polished, loud and extrovert with feminine silhouettes and ample amounts of attitude. It follows fashion trends and continuously releases new items with no pause, by reacting to latest fashion drifts.

The creators of the brand say that their site is their palace, their home, their one and only shopping window to the world. Consequently, you can find Ivyrevel clothes only online and there is no single physical store or a showroom to come try the clothes. Nevertheless, Ivyrevel ships worldwide and their clothes can be bought through many various e-commerce platforms, such as German Zalando or British Asos, and with the support of such a giant as H&M, it makes Ivyrevel a recognizable brand all around the world.

Using the hype around the brand relaunch, Ivyrevel announced that they are partnering with Google to bring couture into the digital age with the Data Dress – a personalized dress designed using a smartphone app developed by Ivyrevel and Google. The app tracks each user’s activity and lifestyle which is then interpreted into a truly unique, and on-trend, custom-made Ivyrevel dress.

”It’s such an exciting moment. We’re about to change the fashion industry by bringing the customer’s personality into the design process through data technology. To get a unique piece of clothing today you need to either buy a custom-made design piece or design it yourself, but that is generally not an affordable option and most people lack the design experience. The Data Dress enables women around the world to order a dress made entirely for them, that reflects the way they live their lives,” says Aleksandar Subosic, co-founder of Ivyrevel.

You ask how does it actually work? At 2016 Google I/O developer conference, Google introduced a new Awareness API that would allow for smarter applications that could understand where you were, what you were doing, what’s nearby, and even the weather, in order to more intelligently react to your current situation. In 2017 Google introduced a new application that’s taking advantage of this sort of data in order to…design you a dress.

Through a forthcoming Android application, users can consent to have their activity and lifestyle data monitored – by way of the Awareness API –  to create their own, personalized, custom-made dress that’s ordered through the app. Now it is officially called the “Data Dress,” says Google.

The idea is that you can translate your life and your lifestyle into a unique, wearable look sounds promising, but in reality, the resulting creation mainly displays your routes and routines as lines on a map, sans street labels and points of interest. But who would like to wear a roadmap?

Creators have promised that the app will release later this year, but still, there are no signs of progress.

 

Sources:
ivyrevel.com

kenzas.se

techcrunch.com

fashionpost.pl

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Better than Google Image Search

Reading Time: < 1 minuteMany people are familiar with google image search feature where you can actually upload your own image and then search that image in google to find similar images.

Just go to https://images.google.com/

You should see this…screen-shot-2017-01-23-at-2-57-16-pm

This will allow you to do a lot of things, like search for your brand logo, Ensure that companies aren’t stealing images and pretending their products are real. You know, things of that nature.

What if I told you there was a better and more thorough option? Google image is good for some novel image searches but Monitori goes way beyond Googles capabilities. With Monitori it is not simply just a social media analysis tool. At first glance it seems pretty similar to Brand 24 but they don’t have the image function that Monitori does.

With their search feature you can upload an image of your brand logo and it will return with a query of every place that it can find where your brand image shows up online. I tested this feature with a very small and not well known brand and to my surprise there were results! This is going to change the way companies function for sure and it is a powerful feature of this SAAS company.

 

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