Oxford Professor On Google: ‘They Are Incapable Of Holding Themselves To Ethical Standards’

Google is one of the most data-hungry Technocrat companies on earth, and is integrating health data and health AI into its company by merging DeepMind. This has broken many promises made by both companies and exposes patient data en mass. ⁃ TN Editor

Privacy advocates have raised concerns about patients’ data after Google said it would take control of its subsidiary DeepMind’s healthcare division.

Google, which acquired London-based artificial intelligence lab DeepMind in 2014, said on Tuesday that the DeepMind Health brand, which uses NHS patient data, will cease to exist and the team behind its medical app Streams will join Google as part of Google Health.

It comes just months after DeepMind promised never to share data with the technology giant and an ethics board raised concerns over its independence.

A separate research team at DeepMind will continue to function independently of Google, but under the umbrella of its parent company Alphabet.

A DeepMind spokesman said: “All patient data remains under our partners’ strict control, and all decisions about its use lie with them.”

DeepMind health has already come under scrutiny from data watchdogs in the past. Last year, the Royal Free hospital in London was found to have breached the Data Protection Act over its handling of NHS patients’ data when using the Streams app, which was developed by DeepMind.

Streams is an application that aims to help doctors spot patients who may develop kidney disease. It was developed using data from the Royal Free Hospital.

In July, an independent ethics board said DeepMind needed to do more to prove its independence from Alphabet. The board was drawn up at the request of DeepMind’s founders when it was purchased by Google for £400m.

The latest report read: “To what extent can DeepMind Health insulate itself against Alphabet instructing them in the future to do something which it has promised not to do today? Or, if DeepMind Health’s current management were to leave DeepMind Health, how much could a new CEO alter what has been agreed today?

“We appreciate that DeepMind Health would continue to be bound by the legal and regulatory framework, but much of our attention is on the steps that DeepMind Health have taken to take a more ethical stance than the law requires; could this all be ended? We encourage DeepMind Health to look at ways of entrenching its separation from Alphabet and DeepMind more robustly, so that it can have enduring force to the commitments it makes,” a report by the ethics board stated.

“The relationship with Google is a constant question that runs through many areas of DeepMind Health’s business.”

DeepMind has come up against accusations from critics who accused the company of selling out. Co-founder Demis Hassabis said that the announcement would “accelerate scientific progress for the benefit of everyone”. Mustafa Suleyman, who created DeepMind with Hassabis while at university, said: “It’s been a phenomenal journey to see Streams go from initial idea to live deployment, and to hear how it’s helped change the lives of patients and the nurses and doctors who treat them.”

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Climate Contrarian Uncovers Big Scientific Error, Upends Major Ocean Warming Study

Mathematician Nic Lewis, a global warming critic, found problems on the very first page of a peer-reviewed study published in the “world’s premier scientific journal”. This demonstrates the groupthink phenomenon among global warmists when they cannot see the forest through the trees. ⁃ TN Editor

Researchers with UC San Diego’s Scripps Institution of Oceanography and Princeton University recently walked back scientific findings published last month that showed oceans have been heating up dramatically faster than previously thought as a result of climate change.

In a paper published Oct. 31 in the journal Nature, researchers found that ocean temperatures had warmed 60 percent more than outlined by the United Nation’s Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change.

However, the conclusion came under scrutiny after mathematician Nic Lewis, a critic of the scientific consensus around human-induced warming, posted a critique of the paper on the blog of Judith Curry, another well-known critic.

“The findings of the … paper were peer reviewed and published in the world’s premier scientific journal and were given wide coverage in the English-speaking media,” Lewis wrote. “Despite this, a quick review of the first page of the paper was sufficient to raise doubts as to the accuracy of its results.”

Co-author Ralph Keeling, climate scientist at the Scripps Institution of Oceanography, took full blame and thanked Lewis for alerting him to the mistake.

“When we were confronted with his insight it became immediately clear there was an issue there,” he said. “We’re grateful to have it be pointed out quickly so that we could correct it quickly.”

Keeling said they have since redone the calculations, finding the ocean is still likely warmer than the estimate used by the IPCC. However, that increase in heat has a larger range of probability than initially thought — between 10 percent and 70 percent, as other studies have already found.

“Our error margins are too big now to really weigh in on the precise amount of warming that’s going on in the ocean,” Keeling said. “We really muffed the error margins.”

A correction has been submitted to the journal Nature.

According to the most recent IPCC report, climate emissions need to be cut by 20 percent by 2030 and then zeroed out by 2075 to keep warming from exceeding 2 degrees Celsius (3.6 degrees Fahrenheit) above preindustrial levels.

Authors of the recent study had previously claimed that emissions levels in coming decades would need to be 25 percent lower to keep warming under that 2-degree cap.

While papers are peer reviewed before they’re published, new findings must always be reproduced before gaining widespread acceptance throughout the scientific community, said Gerald Meehl, a climate scientist at the National Center for Atmospheric Research in Boulder, Colorado.

“This is how the process works,” he said. “Every paper that comes out is not bulletproof or infallible. If it doesn’t stand up under scrutiny, you review the findings.”

The report relied on a novel approach that still has the potential to revolutionize how scientists measure the ocean’s temperature.

Much of the data on ocean temperatures currently relies on the Argo array, robotic devices that float at different depths. The program, which started in 2000, has gaps in coverage.

By comparison, Keeling and Laure Resplandy, a researcher at Princeton University’s Environmental Institute who co-authored the report, calculated heat based on the amount of oxygen and carbon dioxide rising off the ocean, filling round glass flasks with air collected at research stations around the globe.

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Facial Recognition In Retail Stores: Are Shoppers Ready For It?

Retail stores are planning opt-in facial recognition in return for giving you shopping rewards. Thus, your biometric data as well as your buying history will be available for sale to the highest bidder. When combined with data from other stores, the data-hungry Technocrats will know more about you than you know about yourself. ⁃ TN Editor

The global market for retail biometrics is by all accounts in its early stages, and is significantly fragmented between regions. Retailers in Asia are testing biometric systems for retail payments and customer interaction, while most trials and deployments in North America so far seem to be focused on security. The range of applications is broad enough for biometrics to be a potentially disruptive force for the retail industry worldwide in the foreseeable future.

Amazon opened its first Go stores, which are partially automated to provide payments without a cashier or self-checkout, to the public at the beginning of 2018. The company plans to roll out up to 3,000 Go stores by 2021, in a unique divergence from the regional split. Pay with a smile was launched with Alipay technology at KPRO by KFC stores last year in China, and facial recognition has more recently been applied to controlled retail settings for trials in Finland and Korea

Other modalities have been tested or trialed for retail payment authentication this year, including Fujitsu palm vein biometrics, and Hitachi finger vein biometrics.

The majority of retail biometrics projects in the U.S. so far, however, are focused on loss prevention and violence prevention, FaceFirst CEO Peter Trepp tells Biometric Update. After more production roll-outs of that application, different ones will eventually follow, he expects, but not right away.

“There is another step though that exists which has more to do with consumer loyalty, and consumer experience, that is not quite as expensive an endeavor, and I think there are lots of folks looking at ways of doing that in a friendly opt-in environment, where privacy is not the cornerstone issue, and consumers are opting into systems that allow them to engage with them,” Trepp says.

SensibleVision CEO George Brostoff also sees a range of possible uses for facial recognition in stores. “When it comes to retail the applications kind of expand out from traditional authentication,” he said in an interview. SensibleVision is in discussions with businesses in Asia about several different retail applications of its facial recognition technology. Like Trepp, Brostoff sees customer loyalty programs, which inherently involve a customer opt-in, as a logical next step in Western markets like the U.S. and Europe.

Goode Intelligence Founder and Managing Director Alan Goode also sees potential for customer loyalty programs in those markets to leverage facial recognition in the near future, but suggests a couple of other applications are also likely to emerge in the near future. Age verification, which in some cases is handled on-device with apps produced by providers like Yoti, is a logical next-step for automated self-check out systems selling age-restricted items like tobacco or alcohol. Likewise, Clear is providing biometric age verification and payments for concessions in Seattle – where the original Amazon Go stores are located – in what Goode identifies as a trend towards hybridization.

“What we’re seeing is immense hybridization going on in terms of payment, ticketing, identity all getting molded into one,” Goode explains to Biometric Update.

That hybridization will be one of the drivers of a rapid increase in the adoption of biometric payments, according to a recent Goode Intelligence report, which forecasts 2.6 billion people globally will use biometrics for payments by 2023, when 579 million biometric payment cards will be in use.

Arturo Falck, CEO of startup Whoo.ai, also sees customer loyalty as the next logical step, but he sees privacy concerns coming up even then.

“Once companies are using this type of technology for crime prevention purposes, there’s no reason why they should not be using it for upselling their customers,” Falck told Biometric Update. “In a way you can see the natural progression. If you remember way back when Gmail first started, we didn’t really think through the fact that pretty soon the advertisements that we were seeing when we were browsing the internet were targeted to us based on the emails that we were sending to each other. And you can imagine how that extends to the real world and how people are nervous about it.”

A recent survey from the Brookings Institution indicates that half of American consumers have an unfavorable opinion of the use of facial recognition for retail stores to prevent theft, compared to only 27 percent who are favorable of the application. People are more comfortable with the use of the technology in airports, stadiums, and even schools, according to the report.

There are many different ways that lack of comfort could play out, from legal or regulatory barriers all the way to a reversal of attitude among those who currently have negative views of the technology’s use in retail.

“Retailers need to be very careful to have things be both opt-in and not creepy,” Brostoff cautions.

Goode, Trepp, Brostoff, and Falck all believe that as the technology proves its value, and consumers become comfortable with it, different applications will be more easily accepted. Each of the technology company executives finds a comparison with earlier stages of the internet, when certain behaviors that are normal today were considered risky. Trepp recalls when most consumers were uncomfortable entering their credit card information online.

“Those days are gone,” he says. “We trust these companies to do the right thing with this information, and that’s how these companies, like Amazon and others, anybody you do business with online, become big growing companies. They treat their customers’ information correctly, and respectfully, and they respect their privacy.”

The same process of growing trust must be navigated by retailers if they are going to successfully leverage the power of facial biometrics, but Trepp is confidant they will do so. “Their incentives are very well aligned with their customers,” he notes.

Falck estimates, based on Whoo.ai’s early projects, that roughly 3 percent of the population is vocally opposed to participating in facial recognition systems, but even more are concerned about the potential loss of privacy from its increasing use. In response, Whoo.ai has developed a consumer application to provide people with information about retail facial recognition use, but control over it. The company plans to attract a network of retailers with not just positive public relations, but another way to connect with customers.

“It is a way for the businesses to turn what could potentially be bad public relations into engagement opportunities,” he explains.

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