In a step towards combating some of the vile commentary that exists online, Toronto-based AI startup Hatebase is running an operation to detect offensive content. Their database currently includes hateful words, phrases and sightings from 97 languages in 183 countries. The “natural language engine [is called] Hatebrain” and data can be accessed through the Hatebase web interface and API (see below diagram). The sightings and vocabulary sections are updated as more becomes identified.
Hatebase allows clients (companies, nonprofits, government, academia and the media) to choose their own customization in order to catch offensive content. The company also does consulting for the above, helping better educate and stop the indecency in discourse from souring more. We need decency in discourse.
Hateful use of words, phrasing and online sharing can be severely damaging, and one former Facebook Ireland content manager (hired as a contractor) is suing the company for causing him psychological injuries. Chris Gray has pursued legal action against Facebook Ireland for what he says was work that involved “repeated and unrelenting exposure to extremely disturbing, graphic and violent content” during his time at Facebook Dublin from 2017 to 2018.
Apparently, Gray was “one of about 15,000 moderators working for Facebook worldwide, reviewing content posted on the social network, and deciding whether it should be filtered or removed,” according to The Irish Times. He says he was required to view disturbing photographs and videos including executions, lethal beatings, the abuse of children and extreme sexual content. He also claims that he, presumably like other content moderators, was expected to maintain a 98 percent accuracy rating in his role. [The Irish Times]
(If you haven’t already seen the documentary The Cleaners, may we suggest doing so as soon as humanly possible? It was our number one pick to check out at Hot Docs 2018, for good reason. It should be showing in national and international theatres.)
Here’s the trailer:
“Outsourcing should be disturbing to people in democratic societies.”
In lighter news, Nintendo will be adding six classic games to NES and SNES – Nintendo Switch Online on December 12. Super NES – Nintendo Switch Online will see the addition of Star Fox 2, Super Punch-Out!!, Kirby Super Star and Breath of Fire II. As for NES – Nintendo Switch Online, expect to soon see Journey to Silius and Crystalis. [Nintendo]
Security firm Cyberhaven has launched its first computer security offering to identify theft of intellectual property (IP). The security product is based on a method that Cyberhaven calls Data Behavioral Analysis (DaBA), and the solution “makes it easy for enterprises to quickly start protecting their IP and their data because it uses machine learning to identify the leaks,” said Cyberhaven’s co-founder and CEO Volodymyr Kuzntesov. In addition to IP, protecting trade secrets are of high importance.
The Boston-based company raised $13 million in its Series A funding round. The four co-founders of the firm are “top security researchers from Stanford University, MIT, EPFL, and UC Berkley,” reports VentureBeat.
Facebook’s former chief security officer Alex Stamos and Facebook’s former VP of infrastructure engineering Jeff Rothschild are among the angel investors putting funds towards Cyberhaven. [VentureBeat]
In more online crackdown news, here’s a free open software tool called BotSlayer, the next line of defence in protecting from the spread of misinformation from the team that brought us Botometer. BotSlayer helps journalists and the general public identify automated social media campaigns (and inauthentic accounts) as they happen, to help curb the spread further.
“BotSlayer uses an anomaly detection algorithm to flag hashtags, links, accounts, and media that are trending and amplified in a coordinated fashion by likely bots,” the company notes on its website.
You can learn more about BotSlayer and get involved here.
Huawei is planning to switch focus, moving its U.S. research centre to Canada and the company further plans to manufacture mobile network equipment outside of China. Huawei’s CEO and founder Ren Zhengfei is wanting to build a new factory to be used to develop 5G operations in Europe, in addition to bringing more of its operations into the Canadian economy.
(Background brief: This comes following increasing tensions between the Chinese telecom company and the U.S. government—the United States has put Huawei on a trade blacklist and Ren’s daughter Meng Wanzhou is currently fighting extradition to the U.S. Wanzhou was charged with bank fraud and theft of technology (charges that Huawei and Wanzhou refute), which could be a fight happening in the courts for years. Wanzhou is currently on bail and still living in Vancouver. The United States has declared Huawei as a risk to national security, and officials in Canada are under pressure to follow suit with the U.S. and restrict Huawei from having its technology used by Canadian companies.)
Huawei’s connection to the Chinese government and questions around espionage have plagued the company’s reputation for the better part of 2019, but that hasn’t stopped Huawei from posting job opportunities in the GTA.
China has since told its government offices to stop using foreign computer equipment and software, which is to be phased out over the next three years. This could prove to be a bigger blow to companies that service around the globe, so HP, Dell and Microsoft, for example.
Also in China, now when people register for new phones they will be required to have their face scanned for verification of their identities. This apparently means that those registering for a new phone number would need to “record themselves turning their head and blinking” and the new rule is to protect “the legitimate rights and interests of citizens online.” Concerns of biometric data being leaked and overall privacy issues have since been voiced. (DW Akademie )
Russian President Vladimir Putin has put a law into effect that makes it mandatory that Russian software/apps are on smartphones, Smart TVs and computers sold in the country. The law will come into effect July 1, 2020. [Reuters]
ICYMI, here’s what we thought of the Samsung Galaxy Fold, which is now available in stores.
And a new app called Velocia, is rewarding people who choose public transit, biking, car sharing or walking over driving. Currently it is available within Miami, and “Velos” can be redeemed for discounts on any of the connected transit systems.
“The redemption offers are 100% mobility focused. You can’t get a Starbucks coffee, you can’t get an Amazon gift card,” said Velocia’s CEO David Winterstein. “We’re really focused on creating this circular kind of environment that encourages people to use different services in their city and to get out of their cars.” [Fast Company]
Lastly, for now, if you’re like us and want something motivating to read, here are some stories about people racing to save us, curated by Wired.