Former Facebook Engineer Explains Toxic Culture And Why He Quit

This is a critical look into the internal turmoil at Facebook. Former employee Brian Amerige warns of a small minority of overtly belligerent ‘social justice warriors” who are driving censorship at Facebook, and they viciously denigrate any critic. ⁃ TN Editor

A former senior Facebook engineer who wrote a memo earlier this year decrying the social media giant’s “political monoculture” told Fox News on Tuesday night that the company has a “vocal minority” intent on implementing “social justice policies across our mission.”

Brian Amerige, whose last day at Facebook was Friday, told Fox News’ “Tucker Carlson Tonight” that “you can’t have conversations about … anything that’s a tenet of the social justice ideology, effectively, without being attacked personally.” He added that the company’s recent policy cracking down on so-called hate speech was a particularly sensitive topic.

“You can’t even have conversations about that policy inside the company without having your character attacked — and I’ve experienced this personally — without being called a sexist or a racist or a transphobe or an Islamophobe,” said Amerige.

Amerige drew national attention in August when he penned an internal memo, “We Have a Problem With Political Diversity.” The memo, which was later leaked to The New York Times, stated that Facebook employees “claim to welcome all perspectives, but are quick to attack — often in mobs — anyone who presents a view that appears to be in opposition to left-leaning ideology.”

On Tuesday, Amerige said that Facebook executives had taken his concerns seriously and had worked with him to improve the hate speech policy. However, he said rank-and-file, left-leaning employees did not share his concerns.

“The real concerning thing that’s happening here is that even though this is a minority of employees in the company, unfortunately, I’m not sure that Facebook leadership knows how to push back against them,” Amerige said. “They’re unbelievably belligerent, demanding and hostile not just toward other employees, but toward Facebook leadership directly.”

In an exit memo obtained by Business Insider, Amerige wrote, “I care too deeply about our role in supporting free expression and intellectual diversity to even whole-heartedly attempt the product stuff anymore, and that’s how I know it’s time to go. ” On Tuesday, he criticized the hate speech policy as “dangerous” and “impractical.”

Read full story here…




Robot Security Force Now On Patrol In New York City

These security robots are deployed in 16 states, and cost between $6 and $12 an hour to operate. They include multiple cameras, facial recognition, license plate readers, microphones and the latest AI technology. Every citizen it encounters gets automatically profiled and stored. ⁃ TN Editor

The robotic protectors can see what you’re doing and even talk back to you, but the machines created by a New Yorker have prompted serious privacy concerns, CBS2’s Clark Fouraker reported Tuesday.

One of the models, named “Rosie,” uses the same technology as a self-driving car to patrol the sidewalks at the Lefrak City Apartments in Queens.

“This is a crazy combination of artificial intelligence, self-driving autonomous technology, robotics, and analytics in something that’s actually useful for society,” said Knightscope CEO William Santana Li.

Li’s company has built three robot models in the United States, and is introducing them to customers inside a new showroom at 47th Street and Lexington Avenue in Manhattan.

They’re also deployed at LaGuardia Airport.

“I thought it was pretty cool, but I didn’t even know what it really was,” Connie Ruan said. “I thought it was just patrolling around.”

Each robot has five cameras, four of which help the robot see things. The other is used to get thermal imaging data. All of the information gathered goes to an internet-based portal that helps local security forces on the ground.

“The law enforcement apparatus is not going to scale,” Li said. “You can’t keep adding more people, and we’re going to add more people and more officers. It’s not going to happen. Society literally can’t afford this.”

The robots are able to observe people walking on the sidewalks, record license plate numbers, detect the heat in objects, and see which cellphone serial numbers are within a designated patrolling area.

Knightscope said the data is secured and is only seen by the security agency controlling the robot. They’re able to stop it and tell it what to look for, but it doesn’t have a joystick that would allow it to follow or target a specific person.

Of course, privacy concerns abound.

Read full story here…




China’s AI Tech Exports Are Seeding Surveillance Societies Globally

TN has warned repeatedly that China intentionally exports oppressive surveillance  technology to the world, and that includes the United States. It is widely acknowledged that China is the ‘perfect police state’ and other authoritarian regimes willingly follow the leader. ⁃ TN Editor

China has increasingly used its technological advances against its own people. Enabled by striking innovation in both the private and public spheres, it has gradually become  the “perfect police state,” a “high-tech superpower” in-the-making, and a world leader in oppression. Authoritarian regimes have long tried to control their societies through surveillance, policing, and fear. China presents no exception to this. What is significant, however, is China’s application of new technologies to build an ever-growing, an ever-intruding surveillance state. To be sure, China has created a novel model of networked authoritarianism. Xinjiang in China’s far west has become a real-life experiment: An area where individual freedom, liberty, and security are absent, replaced by a state surveillance system that aims for near total control.

The effects of China’s high-tech surveillance model reach well beyond its borders: Increasingly China has been selling its blueprint, including the software and hardware it uses in its surveillance regime, abroad. These outbound plans are suffused with the potential for the development of security societies, particularly in countries managed by regimes with poor human rights records and where democratic institutions are either weak or are still in their infancy. China’s surveillance technology exports could have a considerable impact abroad, potentially weakening or undermining the development of free and open societies. After its role in selling armed drones and the proliferation of drone strikes, now, through the sales of high-tech surveillance technology, China is changing the direction of the global security debate.

Exporting Surveillance

This practice, taking the concept of the Xinjiang testing ground for security technologies, extends to places where the consolidation of state power has become part of a new best-practices standard for not-so-liberal governments. Chinese technology has become an attractive commodity for many countries given the difficulty in developing such technologies as well as the costs involved in acquiring them. Some have come to rely almost entirely on China for their technologies and services. At the same time, those same countries have less-than-pristine human rights histories and are still considered fragile democracies. Authoritarian states have become money-spinning markets, and markets that have aroused the interest of the Chinese state have become dependent on China through easy loans and investments and the export of innovative technologies.

Mongolia has shown its eagerness to be a part of China’s economic initiatives and is partnering with both the Chinese Communist Party (CCP) and private companies to share in the AI technology spoils. Mongolia’s security strides can be cast against the country’s a fundamental rights track record, particularly in the context of the police and security sector. The Mongolian government has treated facial recognition software as an essential new technology for the management of inmates in high-security prisons. SenseTime, a Chinese technology company specializing in AI and facial recognition, and with a valuation of more than $4.5 billion as of 2018, is stretching the frontiers of technology and striving to achieve innovation supremacy.

In 2000, China’s telecom titan ZTE Corporation made its debut in Ethiopia, immediately serving as the primary supplier of that country’s telecommunications equipment. The technology provided by China has been an integral component of monitoring practices undertaken by the Ethiopian government. Ethiopia’s complete control over its telecom system has been linked to an erosion of freedom of expression and association as well as access to private information. Foreign technology, such as the technology China provides, facilitates government monitoring of private citizens and organizations in addition to government opposition. Arrests, detention, and interrogations also followed the Ethiopian government’s illegal surveillance of everyone in the country.

In March 2018, China made inroads into Zimbabwe, a country that has found its CloudWalk technology – China’s initial AI project in Africa – a very attractive means of managing its own surveillance program, ensuring that the government can maintain an all-seeing eye on the country and its people. The state-wide facial recognition technology has the potential for providing the government with information about very specific facets of society, including various ethnic groups, which those in positions of power could use in coercive ways. Zimbabwe has previously looked to China as a model for managing aspects of society, including social media and communications. Legal loopholes have made it possible for Harare to share the data of millions of Zimbabweans with China, possibly compromising their personal privacy and safety.

The Chinese government has worked alongside private tech companies to broker deals with, among other states, the Malaysian government, which seeks to equip Malaysian police forces with cutting-edge AI and facial ID scanning technology. Malaysia refers to its acquisition and employment of state-of-the-art technology as a thrust forward in the protection of its people. Devices like “smart glasses” can enable Malaysian authorities to tighten their grip on Malaysian society, ensuring that deviations from state laws and policies will not go unnoticed.

Over the past several years, Ecuador has also become a heavy user of Chinese surveillance technology. Assisted by a $240 million loan from China, it has installed a wide network of cameras and response centers, staffed by 3,000 government employees. The goal is to curtail violence, watch for natural disasters — and, of course, to surveil society. It remains to be seen if Ecuador can maintain its focus on natural incidents and cutting crime, or if the Ecuadorian government will be inclined, with the help of China, to further expand its surveillance state and curtail the freedom of citizens.

Read full story here…