Everseen Walmart

Walmart Using AI-Powered Cameras In 1,000 Stores To Track Shoppers

Walmart has hired a social engineering company, Everseen, to control and change behavior of its shoppers through the use of AI-based surveillance systems. By surveilling everyone, Walmart hopes to catch a few cheaters.

According to Everseen’s website, “process mining” “amplifies awareness of scenes unfolding daily in retail, pinpointing the “moments that matter”, in order to nudge a behavior one seeks to change, and/or transform the underlying process.” ⁃ TN Editor

 

Walmart is using computer vision technology to monitor checkouts and deter potential theft and other causes of shrink in more than 1,000 stores, the company confirmed to Business Insider.

The surveillance program, internally called Missed Scan Detection, uses cameras to help identify and correct checkout scanning errors and failures.

Ireland-based Everseen is one of several companies supplying Walmart with the technology for its Missed Scan Detection program.

“We are continuously investing in people, programs and technology to keep our stores and communities safe,” a Walmart spokeswoman said.

Walmart is using computer vision technology to monitor checkouts and deter potential theft in more than 1,000 stores, the company confirmed to Business Insider.

The surveillance program, which Walmart refers to internally as Missed Scan Detection, uses cameras to help identify checkout scanning errors and failures.

The cameras track and analyze activities at both self-checkout registers and those manned by Walmart cashiers. When a potential issue arises, such as an item moving past a checkout scanner without getting scanned, the technology notifies checkout attendants so they can intervene.

The program is designed to reduce shrinkage, which is the term retailers use to define losses due to theft, scanning errors, fraud, and other causes.

US retailers lost an estimated 1.33% of revenues to shrinkage in 2017, totalling an estimated $47 billion, according to the National Retail Federation. If Walmart’s shrink rates match the industry average, the company’s US business would have lost more than $4 billion last year to theft and other related losses.

“Walmart is making a true investment to ensure the safety of our customers and associates,” Walmart spokeswoman LeMia Jenkins said. “Over the last three years, the company has invested over half a billion dollars in an effort to prevent, reduce and deter crime in our stores and parking lots. We are continuously investing in people, programs and technology to keep our stores and communities safe.”

Walmart began rolling out Missed Scan Detection technology to stores two years ago, and it appears to be working successfully so far. Shrink rates have declined at stores where it’s deployed, Jenkins said.

Ireland-based Everseen is one of several companies supplying Walmart with the technology for the program.

“Everseen overcomes human limitations. By using state of the art artificial intelligence, computer vision systems, and big data, we can detect abnormal activity and other threats,” an Everseen video advertises. “Our digital eye has perfect vision and it never needs a coffee break or a day off.”

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florida

Florida First To Waive Driver Requirement For Self-Driving Autos

The world will be watching carefully as driverless and autonomous vehicles flood Florida roads for the first time in an entire state. Other states are right behind Florida, including Arizona and California. ⁃ TN Editor

Florida will allow autonomous vehicles (AVs) to operate on public roads without a human driver starting next month, under a new law signed by Gov. Ron DeSantis, R.

The bill, designed to facilitate more AV testing in the state, sets out a statutory framework for insurance and safety rules for the vehicles. It also exempts AV passengers from distracted driving rules that bar texting and phone use.

The bill was signed at the SunTrax facility, the southeast’s only high-speed AV testing facility, marking the completion of the center’s newest AV test track.

Florida has positioned itself as a leader for AV testing. The state has been allowing companies to test on some public roads and has authorized autonomous shuttles for use in Orlando.

The new law will put Florida on par with other states that have passed progressive laws to encourage automakers and tech startups to bring AV testing. Arizona, California, Utah and Pennsylvania have all pushed policy to make it easier for AVs to operate on public roads. Given the immense interest in AV technology, and the potential for driverless cars to remake mobility, it makes sense for states to try to put themselves on the front line.

Florida’s law also comes as the federal government has taken a hands-off approach to setting AV rules, leaving most decisions up to state and local governments. The Department of Transportation (DOT) passed rules in October that lift the assumption of a human driver, but did not move prescriptive policy for several safety issues.

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6G

6G Will Combine AI With Real-Time Speeds Of 1 Terabyte/Sec.

If 5G is just a stepping stone to 6G, then hold on to your seat. AI plus instantaneous connections will enable ad-hoc networks of things and people to achieve unheard-of outcomes. ⁃ TN Editor

Mobile-phone technology has changed the way humans understand and interact with the world and with each other. It’s hard to think of a technology that has more strongly shaped 21st-century living.

The latest technology—the fifth generation of mobile standards, or 5G—is currently being deployed in select locations around the world. And that raises an obvious question. What factors will drive the development of the sixth generation of mobile technology? How will 6G differ from 5G, and what kinds of interactions and activity will it allow that won’t be possible with 5G?

Today, we get an answer of sorts, thanks to the work of Razvan-Andrei Stoica and Giuseppe Abreu at Jacobs University Bremen in Germany. These guys have mapped out the limitations of 5G and the factors they think will drive the development of 6G. Their conclusion is that artificial intelligence will be the main driver of mobile technology and that 6G will be the enabling force behind an entirely new generation of applications for machine intelligence.

First some background. By any criteria, 5G is a significant advance on the previous 4G standards. The first 5G networks already offer download speeds of up to 600 megabits per second and have the potential to get significantly faster. By contrast, 4G generally operates at up to 28 Mbits/s—and most mobile-phone users will have experienced that rate grinding to zero from time to time, for reasons that aren’t always clear.

5G is obviously better in this respect and could even replace many landline connections.

But the most significant benefits go beyond these headline figures. 5G base stations, for example, are designed to handle up to a million connections, versus the 4,000 that 4G base stations can cope with. That should make a difference to communication at major gatherings such as sporting events, demonstrations, and so on, and it could enable all kinds of applications for the internet of things.

Then there is latency—the time it takes for signals to travel across the network. 5G is designed to have a latency of just a single millisecond, compared with 50 milliseconds or more on 4G. Any gamer will tell you how important that is, because it makes the remote control of gaming characters more responsive. But various telecoms operators have demonstrated how the same advantage makes it possible to control drones more accurately, and even to perform telesurgery using a mobile connection.

All this should be possible with lower power requirements to boot, and current claims suggest that 5G devices should have 10 times the battery lives of 4G devices.

So how can 6G better that? 6G will, of course, offer even faster download speeds—the current thinking is that they could approach 1 terabit per second.

But what kind of transformative improvements could it offer? The answer, according to Stoica and Abreu, is that it will enable rapidly changing collaborations on vast scales between intelligent agents solving intricate challenges on the fly and negotiating solutions to complex problems.

Take the problem of coordinating self-driving vehicles through a major city. That’s a significant challenge, given that some 2.7 million vehicles enter a city like New York every day.

The self-driving vehicles of the future will need to be aware of their location, their environment and how it is changing, and other road users such as cyclists, pedestrians, and other self-driving vehicles. They will need to negotiate passage through junctions and optimize their route in a way that minimizes journey times.

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UN-Habitat

Technocracy At Work: UN-Habitat’s Strategic Urban Plan for 2020-2025

The United Nations met in Nairobi to give teeth to the New Urban Agenda adopted in December 2016. The new strategy lends full ideological support to the global Green New Deal movement. Every city on the planet will be inundated with the new propaganda. ⁃ TN Editor

Sustainable urbanization is central to the realization of the global development goals as set out in the suite of global agreements signed in 2015-16, including, most importantly, the Sustainable Development Goals and the Agenda 2030, the Sendai Framework for Disaster Risk Reduction, the Paris Agreement on Climate Agenda, and the New Urban Agenda (NUA). The United Nations Human Settlements Programme (UN-Habitat) Strategic Plan 2020-2025 focuses on the Agency’s commitment and contribution to the implementation of these global development agendas. Through its normative and operational work, the Agency’s objective is to: advance sustainable urbanization as a driver of development and peace to improve living conditions for all”.

UN-Habitat’s 2020-2025 Strategic Plan creates a strong narrative of change, clearly articulating the relationship of sustainable urbanization with the overall notion of sustainable development. It is only with a clear transformative strategy, partnerships, and a fresh and innovative vision of development that it is possible to respond to persistent and new development problems, including extreme poverty, socioeconomic inequalities, slums, social exclusion and marginalization, gender-based discrimination, humanitarian crises, conflicts, climate change, and high unemployment, which are increasingly concentrated in urban areas. A holistic approach towards an urbanizing world, connecting cities and other human settlements, can help advance sustainable solutions for the benefit of all.

The Strategic Plan lays out a recalibrated vision and mission, and a sharpened focus. UN-Habitat proposes to serve Member States, sub-national and local governments, and other key urban actors in the pursuit of four mutually reinforcing and integrated domains of change or goals:

1. Reduced poverty and spatial inequality in urban and rural communities;

2. Enhanced shared prosperity of cities and regions;

3. Strengthened climate action and improved urban environment; and

4. Effective urban crisis prevention and response

The realization of these outcomes is supported by a certain number of specific ‘drivers of change’ and ‘organizational enablers.’ Transformative change can only take place through a paradigm shift. UN-Habitat is cognizant of this, and proposes a clear framework that takes into account global trends and focuses on (i) customized solutions taking into account countries in different situations, aligning all efforts focused on the change we want to see; (ii) leveraging partnerships with sister United Nations entities, the private sector, and other development actors and stakeholders; and (iii) significantly enhancing integrated delivery through more effective collaboration across its country offices, regional offices, liaison offices, and the headquarters.

However, implementation of the Strategic Plan 2020-2025 equally requires organizational changes and a new model for financial sustainability to ensure that UN-Habitat resources are commensurate with its mandates and roles.

Once translated into action, this Strategic Plan will reinforce UN-Habitat’s place as the global centre of excellence on sustainable urban development, offering solutions that help seize the opportunities presented by urbanization, while bringing about transformational change for the benefit of millions of people, ensuring that no one and no place is left behind.

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Customs Says Facial Recognition Use ‘Is Not A Surveillance Program’

Customs and Border Protection (CBP) have been using facial recognition systems in airports and at the border, but insists that it isn’t a surveillance program. Legislators are finally starting to wake up to the fact that, Yes, it IS a surveillance program!  ⁃ TN Editor

Lawmakers and civil liberties advocates might be pressing law enforcement agencies to scale back their use of facial recognition software, but international travelers should only expect to see more of the tech in the years ahead.

It’s been almost two years since Customs and Border Protection began deploying facial recognition systems at U.S. airports, and despite the recent backlash against the software, the agency’s efforts show no signs of slowing down. But if you ask Deputy Executive Assistant Commissioner John Wagner, the agency’s use of facial recognition falls far short of the dystopian panopticon feared by many of the tech’s critics.

“This is not a surveillance program,” Wagner, who heads CBP’s biometric entry and exit initiative, said in a conversation with Nextgov. “We are not just hanging a camera in an airport and randomly identifying people … as they’re walking through.”

Under Wagner’s program, CBP agents use facial recognition to compare real-time images of international travelers to the photos on their passports or visas. For arrivals, people have their faces scanned while officers review their travel documents, and for departures, the tech captures images right at the boarding gate.

Today, the tech is deployed in some capacity at 16 airports across the U.S, and by 2021, CBP expects to scale up the program to cover more than 97 percent of the people flying outside the country. Ultimately, officials anticipate biometrics could render physical boarding passes obsolete.

The system is intended to help agents keep better tabs who is entering and leaving the country. Instead of relying on traditional flight logs and manual document inspections to monitor international traffic, using the tech, agents can now verify passengers are who they claim to be with more than 98 percent accuracy in a matter of seconds, Wagner said. The agency is currently testing facial recognition at three checkpoints in Arizona to identify people crossing the U.S.-Mexico border.

And officials are already seeing program bear fruit. Since August, agents have intercepted six individuals trying to illegally enter the U.S. through airports and another 125 “imposters” along the southern border, a CBP spokesperson told Nextgov. Wagner said the agency also identified more than 14,000 people who left the country after overstaying their visas, a violation that could prevent them from returning to the U.S. for up to a decade. The program has been so successful that the Partnership for Public Service nominated Wagner for one of its annual Service to America awards.

Outside the Homeland Security Department, however, its reception has been mixed. The program came under fire last week on Capitol Hill as lawmakers and legal experts bashed law enforcement agencies for their often dubious use of facial recognition. During the hearing, Neema Singh Guliani, a senior legislative counsel at the ACLU, said she had “lots of questions and concerns” about CBP expanding the use of biometrics beyond airport terminals.

But compared to the sweeping and often covert applications of facial recognition by the FBI and other agencies, Wagner sees CBP’s operations as pretty tame.

People are always aware their picture is being taken, and U.S. citizens have the ability to opt out of face scans, at least for the departure process, he said. The tech is also only used in sections of the airport where people would already need to show identification, he said, and the image itself is only compared to passport and visa photos that already in the government’s possession.

“The biometric really becomes as simple as validating the information we’ve already received,” Wagner said. “There’s no new information we’re requiring of a person other than taking their photograph and comparing it to a photograph they’ve already given us.”

Instead of running images against a single trove of government IDs, the agency compares them to custom databases created for each individual flight, which significantly reduces the risk of misidentification, Wagner said. Those new airport photos are also deleted from CBP’s systems within less than a day, he added.

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opportunity zones

Opportunity Zones: A Technocrat Deception To Plunder America

How much more financial plundering can Americans endure before America is declared an outright Oligarchy and the middle class declared dead?

The Trump Administration has aggressively teamed up with Big Tech billionaires to diversify their fortunes into “underserved areas” by allowing tax deferment on realized capital gains derived from liquidation of their core investments. This is a massive Public-Private Partnership operation that could push as much as $6 trillion of “unlocked capital” into areas that would be turned upside down, and worse, inundated with Smart City technology designed to create a data extraction extravaganza for years to come.

In short, this is an operation of Big Tech, for Big Tech and by Big Tech, but President Trump has aided and abetted their efforts to manipulate government rules for their own self-interest. Undesired consequences will most certainly follow.

Introduction

When President Trump signed the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 in December 2017, few read or understood the small print authorizing the creation of Opportunity Zones. One year later on December 12, 2018, Trump created and signed an Executive Order titled, Executive Order on Establishing the White House Opportunity and Revitalization Council, which created a highest-level committee that includes the very top leadership of the Administration: the Secretaries of the Treasury, Agriculture, Interior, Commerce, Labor, Health and Human Services, Transportation, Energy and Education; the Administrators of the EPA and the Small Business Administration; the Chairmen of the Council of Economic Advisers and the Council on Environmental Quality and a few other assorted big-wigs.

The EO instructs the Council to “work across agencies” to “assess the actions each agency can take under existing authorities to prioritize or focus Federal investments and programs on urban and economically distressed communities, including qualified Opportunity Zones.” The object is to “minimize all regulatory and administrative costs and burdens.” Furthermore, the EO uses the phrase “public and private investment” no less than six times and then stresses that the Council must evaluate,

“whether and how Federal technical assistance, planning, financing tools, and implementation strategies can be coordinated across agencies to assist communities in addressing economic problems, engaging in comprehensive planning, and advancing regional collaboration.”

There are three immediate problems with this Executive Order. First, Public-Private Partnerships have developed over the years as a mainstay of the United Nations to finance Sustainable Development and in particular, infrastructure that supports its Sustainable Development Goals. Second, blanket cross-agency coordination can be a dangerous vehicle to create policies that represent no agency in particular, and that no single agency would ever create by itself. Third, the term collaboration is a buzzword for collaborative governance that brings many types of stakeholders to the table to make binding decisions outside of traditional citizen representation or accountability. Furthermore, regional collaboration adds an additional dimension that promotes regionalism, which is patently unconstitutional. Article 4, Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution states that “The United States shall guarantee to every State in this Union a Republican Form of Government.” Regionalism is not a Republican Form of Government, period.

The Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017

Opportunity Zones were created in Section 13823 of this 131 page bill, the summary of which states:

This section authorizes the designation of opportunity zones in low-income communities and provides various tax incentives for investments in the zones. Taxpayers may temporarily defer the recognition of capital gains that are invested in opportunity zones. Investments in opportunity zones or opportunity funds that are held for at least five years are eligible for capital gains tax reductions or exemptions, depending on how long the investment is held.

The governor of each state is given authority to define the Opportunity Zones within their state boundaries, which are then submitted to the Department of the Treasury for automatic certification. Zones are supposed to be low income or under-advantaged communities, but several governors have stretched the definition to include prime development areas as well.

Thus far, over 8,700 of these Zones have been established nationwide. (An interactive map can be seen here and the IRS Q&A page is here.) Obviously, this is no small undertaking. According to Smart Growth America, currently designated OZs represent 10 percent of America’s landmass, containing 30 million people. It adds,

The newly created Opportunity Zones program will likely go down as the largest and most significant federal community development initiative in U.S. history, with trillions of dollars in new private investment about to start flowing into pre-designated low-income communities around the country. 

It is noteworthy that one survey of state Opportunity Zone designation procedures revealed that less than 10 percent of states published their draft selections for public comment and only one-quarter of states formed a citizen advisory panel. Thus, the public has been largely left in the dark.

The IRS issued its first set of rules in early 2018 with little fanfare or public interest. However, when the second set of rules were released in October 2018, the barn doors were thrown open and the free-for-all began. The New Orleans Advocate noted on May 19 that “It’s like the Wild West out there now”. The article elaborated:

It’s not only the last-minute rules-setting that has given the Opportunity Zone scheme a sense of anarchy: Literally anyone can set up a qualifying OZ fund, and there is no formal way yet for the government to track them and determine if they’re directing investment to truly deprived areas as intended.

The Economic Innovation Group

The brains and lobby effort behind the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 is now known to be The Economic Innovation Group (EIG), which, by its own admission, was the original creator of the Opportunity Zone concept in a 2015 paper titled Unlocking Private Capital to Facilitate Economic Growth in Distressed Areas. EIG boasts that “the idea has since been championed by a wide-ranging coalition of investors, entrepreneurs, community developers, economists, and other stakeholders.”

Subsequently, Sen. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Sen. Tim Scott (R-SC) introduced Senate bill S.293, the Investing in Opportunity Act into the 115th Congress on February 2, 2017. Matching legislation was introduced in the House by Rep. Patrick Tiberi (R-OH). While both bills were stuck in committee, the key provisions were slipped into the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017 which was passed and then signed into law by President Trump.

Such a skillful, persistent and successful lobbyist effort begs the question, “Who are these people, anyway?” I’m glad you asked.

The Founder and Executive Chairman of EIG is Sean Parker, a well-known black-hat hacker in his youth who co-founded Napster at age 18 to illegally share copyrighted music for free, without authorization from the creators. At age 25, Parker joined Mark Zuckerberg in 2004 when Facebook was only 5 months old, and became its first President shortly thereafter. Parker is credited with convincing Zuckerberg that Facebook could one day be something “really big”. Forbes Magazine lists Parker as a venture capital investor and philanthropist.

Other members of EIG’s Founders Circle include:

  • Ted Ullyot – General Council of Facebook from 2008 to 2013
  • Ron Conway – Founder of SV Angel and included in 2010’s Vanity Fair 100 most influential people in the Information Age
  • Dan Gilbert – Founder and Chairman of Quicken Loans, Inc. And a leading venture capitalist specializing in technology companies
  • Rebecca Lynn – Ranked #23 out of 100 top tech investors on Forbes 2015 Midas List
  • Joseph Sanberg – Private and public-sector entrepreneur and investor; he is a board member of the Sierra Club Foundation
  • Dana Settle – Former investment banker at Lehman Brothers, she is a leading venture capitalist specializing in high-tech startups.

In short, every one of these people are key players in the Big Tech/venture capital world, especially on the West Coast.

Furthermore, they have close connections with some top economists who are listed on their Economic Advisory Board:

  • Jared Bernstein, PhD – Chief Economist and Economic Adviser to Vice President Joe Biden, executive director of the White House Task Force on the Middle Class, and a member of President Obama’s economic team.
  • Austan Goolsbee – Former chairman of President Barack Obama’s Council of Economic Advisers, cabinet member and chief economist for the President’s Economic Recovery Advisory Board
  • Kenneth Rogoff – Former Chief Economist at the International Monetary Fund
  • Matthew Slaughter, PhD – Professor of International Business at Dartmouth, Senior Fellow at the Council on Foreign Relations, advisory committee member of the Export-Import Bank of the United States and advisor to the McKinsey Global Institute.

The EIG Policy Council generally follows the same lines as the Founders Circle but for this discussion, it has one noteworthy member: Chris Camacho of Phoenix, Arizona.

Camacho is President and CEO of the Greater Phoenix Economic Council (GPEC), which he has used to spearhead a public-private partnership called Smart Region Initiative (SRI). This is a three-way collaboration between Arizona State University, GPEC and the managing partner Arizona Institute for Digital Progress.

Camacho is a hard-nosed business development expert and an unequalled promoter of unconstitutional regionalism. One Phoenix journal reported Camacho as saying,

“No one market across the country has unified multiple jurisdictions. There’s been strategies to do smart cities in various places, but we’re talking about, ‘how do we connect the entire region.’”

Indeed, the Smart Region Initiative is being billed as the very first national attempt to create a regional authority to implement uniform smart city technology across 22 cities and 4.2 million people. National and even global eyes are watching to see what happens next in the Valley of the Sun, and if this regionalism takeover is successful here, it will be used as a model for similar public-private partnerships all across across America and around the world.

While this writer intends to thoroughly cover the Smart Region Initiative movement in a separate report, it is important to see the potential connection between Opportunity Zones and Smart Region Initiatives. Both are full of venture capitalists specializing in Big Tech initiatives like the Internet of Things, Smart City surveillance technology and most importantly, data, which many are calling the “new oil” of the 21st century. Both are new, riddled with Public-Private Partnerships and promote similar unconstitutional practices.

The Counter-Argument

Some will undoubtedly argue that these billionaires and venture capitalists are simply acting as benevolent benefactors who are sharing their wealth with poor communities; or that they are merely seeking to diversify their investments.

This is a logical absurdity and terribly naive. For high-velocity money extracted from Big Tech, there is no return on buying real estate or starting businesses in poor communities. Investors always put their capital into the areas of highest possible returns.

On the other hand, if data collection is the target, which is high-return, then Opportunity Zones fit the bill perfectly.

Who will manage the OZ Funds?

For the most part, every Opportunity Zone Fund will typically have a managing partner that makes all decisions for investment, structuring and accounting. Investors will simply pick a fund or fund manager in which to invest. Who are these fund managers? One needs to look no further than EIG’s Opportunity Zones Coalition page to get the idea: This page lists 49 such would-be managers with names like Reinvestment Fund, Riaz Capital, Newark Venture Partners, Ur Opportunity, KeyBank, Institute for Portfolio Alternatives, Fund for Our Economic Future, Calvert Impact Capital, Bridge Investment Group, etc. Some of these will very likely end up with tens of billions under their direct management.

Case Study: How Erie, PA Uses Opportunity Zones To Fund Its Smart City Makeover

On March 4, 2019, Government Technology reported that Erie, Pa., Wants to Overlay Security Tech into Its Smart City. The article states,

Eight “opportunity zones” throughout the city could soon see new smart city technology equipped with license plate-reading cameras and facial recognition capabilities. Officials say the goal is to boost safety and spur investment.

Additional security cameras, LED lighting and free public Wi-Fi were introduced to downtown Erie in 2018 as part of a pilot program for what’s known as smart city technology.

Mayor Joe Schember’s administration and other local officials want to bring the same technology to local neighborhoods targeted for reinvestment under the federal Opportunity Zone program.

Schember, in an interview last week, said his administration — working with the Erie Innovation District and others — is working to bring “secure smart city” equipment and technology over the next 12 months to the eight Opportunity Zones in the Erie region that have been designated by Gov. Tom Wolf’s office and certified by the U.S. Treasury Department.

According to Schember, that would include security cameras that could read license plates and have facial-recognition capabilities; energy-efficient LED street lights; and free Wi-Fi in public spaces throughout the Opportunity Zone tracts. The intent is to make those areas safer and more attractive for investment.

“It’s kind of an aggressive goal. … But let’s get these areas done and within the next three years, I’d like to see that technology throughout the entire city,” Schember said.

Needless to say, Erie got the message of how Opportunity Zones could best serve its pressing need to get someone else to pay for its Smart City makeover. Once a beachhead is established in a lower-income area, which can hardly protest anything the city does, rolling out to the rest of the city will be a cake-walk. Furthermore, the early city “partners” (tech providers and investors) will have their foot in the door and will be eager participants.

But, why would anyone be eager to pour money into low income or underserved areas? There are three good reasons. First and foremost, the value of data collection is found in all living human beings, regardless of their socio-economic status. Second, the early-bird gets the worm for the rest of the data plundering operation in other parts of the city or region. Third, once embedded, the data stream continues to pump into the coffers of those who “own” the collection infrastructure.

Conclusion

It’s time to face the dark reality of the Tax Cuts and Jobs Act of 2017. The promised tax cut for individuals was largely a myth. Conversely, tax cuts for the wealthy and corporations were ostentatious. A just-released report by the Congressional Research Service confirms this: “the main consequence was that real tax rates for corporations fell by nearly half while individual income taxes barely budged.” The key sentence in the report states,

“From 2017 to 2018, the estimated average corporate tax rate fell from 23.4% to 12.1% and individual income taxes as a percentage of personal income fell slightly from 9.6% to 9.2%.”

Thus, a Republican-led Congress betrayed the American people, and President Trump offered no rebuke to get it right. Instead, he eagerly signed the Jobs Act into law and subsequently created an Executive Order to insure the streamlining of its provisions throughout all levels of government agencies.

It should be duly noted and with alarm that this kind of globalization transcends the ideological labels of Republican or Democrat, liberal or conservative, left-wing or right-wing, etc. Technocrats are apolitical on one hand, but will use or manipulate any convenient political platform to advance their own goals.

After realizing that the door was open for the rich to get richer with the Jobs Act, one can almost picture the resulting feeding frenzy of lobbyists to get their favorite loophole into the text. The Economic Innovation Group was able to claw their way into the mix to ensconce Opportunity Zones on behalf of their super-rich Big Tech/venture capitalist cronies.

To repeat the question, how much more financial plundering can Americans endure before America is declared an outright Oligarchy and the middle class declared dead?

  




College Students Secretly Photographed For Facial Recognition Research

Partially backed by government funding, the Professor blew off the critics of his research claiming it was being used for the ‘greater good’. There are ethical and legal considerations that are being blown off as well, giving others encouragement to ignore the law. ⁃ TN Editor

A professor at the University of Colorado’s Colorado Springs campus led a project that secretly snapped photos of more than 1,700 students, faculty members and others walking in public more than six years ago in an effort to enhance facial-recognition technology.

The photographs were posted online as a dataset that could be publicly downloaded from 2016 until this past April.

While professor Terrance Boult and CU officials defended the project and its efforts to protect student privacy, a University of Denver law professor questioned whether this is an example of technological advancement crossing ethical boundaries.

“It’s yet another area where we’re seeing privacy intrusions that disturb us,” said Bernard Chao, who teaches the intersection of law and technology at DU and previously practiced law in Silicon Valley for almost 20 years.

The CU Colorado Springs project, first reported last week by the Colorado Springs Independent, began in 2012 with funding from a variety of U.S. intelligence and military operations, including the Office of Naval Research, Special Operations Command and the Office of the Director of National Intelligence. It was not clear how much funding the project received from government agencies.

Boult’s research originally was intended to analyze facial-recognition algorithms to determine whether they were up to snuff for use by the U.S. Navy. But it turned out the technology wasn’t as efficient as the Navy wanted.

“It was solved if you wanted to match two passport photos where the person is facing forward in good light, but not if you wanted to recognize someone 100 meters away,” Boult said.

Boult and his team did more advanced research to try to improve the facial-recognition technology.

“The study is trying to make facial recognition better, especially at long range or surveillance applications,” Boult said. “We wanted to collect a dataset of people acting naturally in public because that’s the way people are trying to use facial recognition.”

Facial-recognition technology is being used more and more, including for things such as enabling Facebook to tag people in pictures, in helping government agencies to check passports or visas, and beyond.

To conduct the study, Boult set up a long-range surveillance camera in an office window about 150 meters away from the West Lawn of the Colorado Springs campus, a public area where passers-by would not have a reasonable expectation of privacy.

The camera surreptitiously photographed people walking in the area of the West Lawn on certain days during the spring semesters of 2012 and 2013.

The candid shots caught students as they looked down at their phones, blurred in motion or walked out of frame altogether.

More than 16,000 images were taken, producing 1,732 unique identities. To protect student privacy, Boult said, he waited five years to release the dataset publicly. That way, people were unable to look at the pictures and figure out a student’s whereabouts in case of a domestic violence concern or a clandestine military placement, he said.

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DARPA

DARPA: Funding Wearable Brain-Machine Interfaces

Technocrats at DARPA are intent on creating a non-surgical brain-machine interface as a force-multiplier for soldiers. The research will require “Investigational Device Exemptions” from the Administration. ⁃ TN Editor

DARPA has awarded funding to six organizations to support the Next-Generation Nonsurgical Neurotechnology (N3) program, first announced in March 2018. Battelle Memorial Institute, Carnegie Mellon University, Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory, Palo Alto Research Center (PARC), Rice University, and Teledyne Scientific are leading multidisciplinary teams to develop high-resolution, bidirectional brain-machine interfaces for use by able-bodied service members. These wearable interfaces could ultimately enable diverse national security applications such as control of active cyber defense systems and swarms of unmanned aerial vehicles, or teaming with computer systems to multitask during complex missions.

“DARPA is preparing for a future in which a combination of unmanned systems, artificial intelligence, and cyber operations may cause conflicts to play out on timelines that are too short for humans to effectively manage with current technology alone,” said Al Emondi, the N3 program manager. “By creating a more accessible brain-machine interface that doesn’t require surgery to use, DARPA could deliver tools that allow mission commanders to remain meaningfully involved in dynamic operations that unfold at rapid speed.”

Over the past 18 years, DARPA has demonstrated increasingly sophisticated neurotechnologies that rely on surgically implanted electrodes to interface with the central or peripheral nervous systems. The agency has demonstrated achievements such as neural control of prosthetic limbs and restoration of the sense of touch to the users of those limbs, relief of otherwise intractable neuropsychiatric illnesses such as depression, and improvement of memory formation and recall. Due to the inherent risks of surgery, these technologies have so far been limited to use by volunteers with clinical need.

For the military’s primarily able-bodied population to benefit from neurotechnology, nonsurgical interfaces are required. Yet, in fact, similar technology could greatly benefit clinical populations as well. By removing the need for surgery, N3 systems seek to expand the pool of patients who can access treatments such as deep brain stimulation to manage neurological illnesses.

The N3 teams are pursuing a range of approaches that use optics, acoustics, and electromagnetics to record neural activity and/or send signals back to the brain at high speed and resolution. The research is split between two tracks. Teams are pursuing either completely noninvasive interfaces that are entirely external to the body or minutely invasive interface systems that include nanotransducers that can be temporarily and nonsurgically delivered to the brain to improve signal resolution.

  • The Battelle team, under principal investigator Dr. Gaurav Sharma, aims to develop a minutely invasive interface system that pairs an external transceiver with electromagnetic nanotransducers that are nonsurgically delivered to neurons of interest. The nanotransducers would convert electrical signals from the neurons into magnetic signals that can be recorded and processed by the external transceiver, and vice versa, to enable bidirectional communication.
  • The Carnegie Mellon University team, under principal investigator Dr. Pulkit Grover, aims to develop a completely noninvasive device that uses an acousto-optical approach to record from the brain and interfering electrical fields to write to specific neurons. The team will use ultrasound waves to guide light into and out of the brain to detect neural activity. The team’s write approach exploits the non-linear response of neurons to electric fields to enable localized stimulation of specific cell types.
  • The Johns Hopkins University Applied Physics Laboratory team, under principal investigator Dr. David Blodgett, aims to develop a completely noninvasive, coherent optical system for recording from the brain. The system will directly measure optical path-length changes in neural tissue that correlate with neural activity.
  • The PARC team, under principal investigator Dr. Krishnan Thyagarajan, aims to develop a completely noninvasive acousto-magnetic device for writing to the brain. Their approach pairs ultrasound waves with magnetic fields to generate localized electric currents for neuromodulation. The hybrid approach offers the potential for localized neuromodulation deeper in the brain.
  • The Rice University team, under principal investigator Dr. Jacob Robinson, aims to develop a minutely invasive, bidirectional system for recording from and writing to the brain. For the recording function, the interface will use diffuse optical tomography to infer neural activity by measuring light scattering in neural tissue. To enable the write function, the team will use a magneto-genetic approach to make neurons sensitive to magnetic fields.
  • The Teledyne team, under principal investigator Dr. Patrick Connolly, aims to develop a completely noninvasive, integrated device that uses micro optically pumped magnetometers to detect small, localized magnetic fields that correlate with neural activity. The team will use focused ultrasound for writing to neurons.

Throughout the program, the research will benefit from insights provided by independent legal and ethical experts who have agreed to provide insights on N3 progress and consider potential future military and civilian applications and implications of the technology. Additionally, federal regulators are cooperating with DARPA to help the teams better understand human-use clearance as research gets underway. As the work progresses, these regulators will help guide strategies for submitting applications for Investigational Device Exemptions and Investigational New Drugs to enable human trials of N3 systems during the last phase of the four-year program.

“If N3 is successful, we’ll end up with wearable neural interface systems that can communicate with the brain from a range of just a few millimeters, moving neurotechnology beyond the clinic and into practical use for national security,” Emondi said. “Just as service members put on protective and tactical gear in preparation for a mission, in the future they might put on a headset containing a neural interface, use the technology however it’s needed, then put the tool aside when the mission is complete.”

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US Police Capture 117 Million In Facial Recognition Systems

Massive nationwide study in 2006 reveals that thirty-six percent of Americans are in a facial recognition database, and the number is growing rapidly. Law enforcement is mostly unregulated and agencies are free to drift toward a police state reality. ⁃ TN Editor

There is a knock on your door. It’s the police. There was a robbery in your neighborhood. They have a suspect in custody and an eyewitness. But they need your help: Will you come down to the station to stand in the line-up?

Most people would probably answer “no.” This summer, the Government Accountability Office revealed that close to 64 million Americans do not have a say in the matter: 16 states let the FBI use face recognition technology to compare the faces of suspected criminals to their driver’s license and ID photos, creating a virtual line-up of their state residents. In this line-up, it’s not a human that points to the suspect—it’s an algorithm.

But the FBI is only part of the story. Across the country, state and local police departments are building their own face recognition systems, many of them more advanced than the FBI’s. We know very little about these systems. We don’t know how they impact privacy and civil liberties. We don’t know how they address accuracy problems. And we don’t know how any of these systems—local, state, or federal—affect racial and ethnic minorities.

This report closes these gaps. The result of a year-long investigation and over 100 records requests to police departments around the country, it is the most comprehensive survey to date of law enforcement face recognition and the risks that it poses to privacy, civil liberties, and civil rights. Combining FBI data with new information we obtained about state and local systems, we find that law enforcement face recognition affects over 117 million American adults. It is also unregulated. A few agencies have instituted meaningful protections to prevent the misuse of the technology. In many more cases, it is out of control.

The benefits of face recognition are real. It has been used to catch violent criminals and fugitives. The law enforcement officers who use the technology are men and women of good faith. They do not want to invade our privacy or create a police state. They are simply using every tool available to protect the people that they are sworn to serve. Police use of face recognition is inevitable. This report does not aim to stop it.

Rather, this report offers a framework to reason through the very real risks that face recognition creates. It urges Congress and state legislatures to address these risks through commonsense regulation comparable to the Wiretap Act. These reforms must be accompanied by key actions by law enforcement, the National Institute of Standards and Technology (NIST), face recognition companies, and community leaders.

Key Findings

Our general findings are set forth below. Specific findings for 25 local and state law enforcement agencies can be found in our Face Recognition Scorecard, which evaluates these agencies’ impact on privacy, civil liberties, civil rights, transparency and accountability. The records underlying all of our conclusions are available online.

Face recognition is neither new nor rare. FBI face recognition searches are more common than federal court-ordered wiretaps. At least one out of four state or local police departments has the option to run face recognition searches through their or another agency’s system. At least 26 states (and potentially as many as 30) allow law enforcement to run or request searches against their databases of driver’s license and ID photos. Roughly one in two American adults has their photos searched this way.

A face recognition search conducted in the field to verify the identity of someone who has been legally stopped or arrested is different, in principle and effect, than an investigatory search of an ATM photo against a driver’s license database, or continuous, real-time scans of people walking by a surveillance camera. The former is targeted and public. The latter are generalized and invisible. While some agencies, like the San Diego Association of Governments, limit themselves to more targeted use of the technology, others are embracing high and very high risk deployments.

Historically, FBI fingerprint and DNA databases have been primarily or exclusively made up of information from criminal arrests or investigations. By running face recognition searches against 16 states’ driver’s license photo databases, the FBI has built a biometric network that primarily includes law-abiding Americans. This is unprecedented and highly problematic.

Major police departments are exploring real-time face recognition on live surveillance camera video. Real-time face recognition lets police continuously scan the faces of pedestrians walking by a street surveillance camera. It may seem like science fiction. It is real. Contract documents and agency statements show that at least five major police departments—including agencies in Chicago, Dallas, and Los Angeles—either claimed to run real-time face recognition off of street cameras, bought technology that can do so, or expressed a written interest in buying it. Nearly all major face recognition companies offer real-time software.

No state has passed a law comprehensively regulating police face recognition. We are not aware of any agency that requires warrants for searches or limits them to serious crimes. This has consequences. The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office enrolled all of Honduras’ driver’s licenses and mug shots into its database. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office system runs 8,000 monthly searches on the faces of seven million Florida drivers—without requiring that officers have even a reasonable suspicion before running a search. The county public defender reports that the Sheriff’s Office has never disclosed the use of face recognition in Brady evidence.

There is a real risk that police face recognition will be used to stifle free speech. There is also a history of FBI and police surveillance of civil rights protests. Of the 52 agencies that we found to use (or have used) face recognition, we found only one, the Ohio Bureau of Criminal Investigation, whose face recognition use policy expressly prohibits its officers from using face recognition to track individuals engaging in political, religious, or other protected free speech.

Face recognition is less accurate than fingerprinting, particularly when used in real-time or on large databases. Yet we found only two agencies, the San Francisco Police Department and the Seattle region’s South Sound 911, that conditioned purchase of the technology on accuracy tests or thresholds. There is a need for testing. One major face recognition company, FaceFirst, publicly advertises a 95% accuracy rate but disclaims liability for failing to meet that threshold in contracts with the San Diego Association of Governments. Unfortunately, independent accuracy tests are voluntary and infrequent.

Companies and police departments largely rely on police officers to decide whether a candidate photo is in fact a match. Yet a recent study showed that, without specialized training, human users make the wrong decision about a match half the time. We found only eight face recognition systems where specialized personnel reviewed and narrowed down potential matches. The training regime for examiners remains a work in progress.

Police face recognition will disproportionately affect African Americans. Many police departments do not realize that. In a Frequently Asked Questions document, the Seattle Police Department says that its face recognition system “does not see race.” Yet an FBI co-authored study suggests that face recognition may be less accurate on black people. Also, due to disproportionately high arrest rates, systems that rely on mug shot databases likely include a disproportionate number of African Americans. Despite these findings, there is no independent testing regime for racially biased error rates. In interviews, two major face recognition companies admitted that they did not run these tests internally, either.

Ohio’s face recognition system remained almost entirely unknown to the public for five years. The New York Police Department acknowledges using face recognition; press reports suggest it has an advanced system. Yet NYPD denied our records request entirely. The Los Angeles Police Department has repeatedly announced new face recognition initiatives—including a “smart car” equipped with face recognition and real-time face recognition cameras—yet the agency claimed to have “no records responsive” to our document request. Of 52 agencies, only four (less than 10%) have a publicly available use policy. And only one agency, the San Diego Association of Governments, received legislative approval for its policy.

Maryland’s system, which includes the license photos of over two million residents, was launched in 2011. It has never been audited. The Pinellas County Sheriff’s Office system is almost 15 years old and may be the most frequently used system in the country. When asked if his office audits searches for misuse, Sheriff Bob Gualtieri replied, “No, not really.” Despite assurances to Congress, the FBI has not audited use of its face recognition system, either. Only nine of 52 agencies (17%) indicated that they log and audit their officers’ face recognition searches for improper use. Of those, only one agency, the Michigan State Police, provided documentation showing that their audit regime was actually functional.

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Joe Biden

Joe Biden’s ‘Green Revolution’ Isn’t Good Enough For Ocasio-Cortez

Rep. Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is dominating the Democrat 2020 presidential race with her radical “Green New Deal” rhetoric. As she charges candidate Joe Biden with being too middle-of-the-road on global warming, Biden immediately defends. ⁃ TN Editor

Former Vice President Joe Biden said during a campaign stop on Monday that we need a “green revolution” to tackle climate change, which could serve as an alternative to other 2020 Democrat presidential candidates’ Green New Deal.

During a campaign stop in Hampton, New Hampshire, on Monday, Biden disputed one article’s suggestion that he took the “middle ground” on the environment. He told members of the audience to look up PolitiFact, which allegedly confirms that Biden has been a “leader” on climate change.

Biden touted that, while he was vice president, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) doubled the gas mileage standards and moved to have more electric automobile charging stations across the nation.

Biden said that he will announce his plan for a “green revolution” by the end of the month.

Many Democrat presidential candidates such as Sens. Bernie Sanders (I-VT), Kamala Harris (D-CA), and Cory Booker (D-NJ) have made headlines by touting their Green New Deal plan to tackle climate change.

The former vice president also said, back in 1987, that “we have an existential threat” due to climate change and if “we don’t act quickly we will basically lose everything we have.”

“It’s even more urgent now,” Biden added.

Biden said, “We do need to finish this green revolution and we can do it in a way that’s rational, we can do it, afford it, and get it done now.”

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