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World Broadband Speeds Released, Broadband Competition Questions, Social Media Algorithms

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Taiwan has the world’s fastest broadband, while the United States comes in at 15th place, according to the annual Worldwide Broadband Speed League report released by Cable.co.uk on Tuesday.

The report analyzes more than 276 million broadband speed tests collected by M-Lab, an open source project involving civil society organizations, educational institutions, and private sector companies.

While the average global speed has increased, the gap between the fastest and slowest countries has widened as well, causing concern among researchers.

“Faster countries are the ones lifting the average, pulling away at speed and leaving the slowest to stagnate, said Dan Howdle, consumer telecoms analyst at Cable.co.uk. “Last year, we measured the slowest five countries at 88 times slower than the five fastest. This year they are 125 times slower.”

According to telecoms watchdog Ofcom, the minimum speed required to meet the typical needs of a family or small business is 10Mbps. This goal is still unmet by 141 countries.

FCC clashes with San Francisco over city ordinance

The Federal Communications Commission is attempting to overrule a San Francisco ordinance that prevents owners of residential and commercial buildings from blocking tenants from accessing certain internet service providers.

In a blog post on June 18, FCC Chairman Ajit Pai called the ordinance an “outlier” and “a policy which deters broadband deployment.”

Rep. Katie Porter, D-Calif., introduced a budget amendment barring the FCC from finalizing the ruling. The amendment passed in the House but has yet to pass the Senate.

“The communications industry is in dire need of more competition,” Porter said in a statement. “San Francisco’s Article 52 has been incredibly effective in promoting broadband competition — giving residents the benefit of competition and choice in the market, increasing their service quality while decreasing their monthly bills.”

Sen. Johnson requests more information on social media algorithms

On Monday, Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wisconsin, wrote a letter to Facebook and Instagram executives requesting information on their use of algorithms and artificial intelligence by July 10.

“The lack of transparency regarding human bias and the use of algorithms and artificial intelligence is troubling,” Johnson wrote. “As a result, policymakers and the American public deserve to understand the facts behind the content and suggestions they are served on these internet platforms.”

The letter follows a Senate Committee on Commerce, Science, and Transportation hearing about the use of persuasive technology on internet platforms, at which Johnson raised concerns about the presence of political bias in the algorithms.

Development Associate Emily McPhie studied communication design and writing at Washington University in St. Louis, where she was a managing editor for campus publication Student Life. She is a founding board member of Code Open Sesame, an organization that teaches computer skills to underprivileged children in six cities across Southern California.

Artificial Intelligence

CES 2022: Artificial Intelligence Needs to Resonate with People for Widespread Acceptance

Even though stakeholders may want technologies that yield better results, they may be uncomfortable with artificial intelligence.

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Pat Baird speaking at CES 2022

LAS VEGAS, January 6, 2022 – To get artificial intelligence into the mainstream, the industry needs to appease not just regulators, but stakeholders as well.

Pat Baird, regulatory head for software standards at electronics maker Philips, said at the Consumer Electronics Show Thursday that for AI technology to be successfully implemented in a field like medicine, everyone touched by it needs to be comfortable with it.

“A lot of people want to know more information, more information, more information before you dare use that [technology] on me one of the members of my family,” Baird said, “I totally get that, but it is interesting – some of the myths that we see in Hollywood compared to how the technology [actually functions],” adding to be successful you have to win the approval of all stakeholders, not just regulators.

“It is a fine line to take and walk,” Baird said. “I think we need to make sure that the lawmakers really understand the benefits and the risks about this – not all AI is the same. Not all applications are the same.”

Like accidents involving autonomous vehicles, rare accidents for AI can set the technology back years, Baird said. “One of the things that I worry about is when something bad happens that’s kind of reflected on the entire industry.”

Baird noted that many people come prepared with preconceived biases against AI that make them susceptible to skepticism or hesitancy that a technology is safe or will work.

But he did not go so far as to say these biases against AI are putting a “thumb on the scale” against AI, “but [that thumb] is floating near the scale right now.”

“That is one of the things that I’m worried about,” he said. “Because this technology can make a difference. I want to help my patients, damn it, and if this can only improve performance by a couple percent, that is important to that family that you just helped with that [technology].”

Joseph Murphy, vice president of marketing at AI company Sensory Inc., said, “Just like everything in life it’s a tricky balance of innovation, and then putting up the speed bumps to innovation. It’s a process that has to happen.”

On Wednesday, Sally Lange Witkowski, founder of business consulting firm Slang Consulting, said that companies should be educating consumers about the benefits of 5G for widespread adoption.

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Artificial Intelligence

Henry Kissinger: AI Will Prompt Consideration of What it Means to Be Human

Event with the former Secretary of State discusses our current lack of knowledge on how to responsibly harness AI’s power.

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Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger

WASHINGTON, December 24, 2021 – Former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger says that further use of artificial intelligence will call into question what it means to be human, and that the technology cannot solve all those problems humans fail to address on their own.

Kissinger spoke at a Council on Foreign Relations event highlighting his new book “The Age of AI: And Our Human Future” on Monday along with co-author and former Google CEO Eric Schmidt in a conversation moderated by PBS NewsHour anchor Judy Woodruff.

Schmidt remarked throughout the event on unanswered questions about AI despite common use of the technology.

He emphasized that the computer systems may be able to solve complex problems, such as in physics dealing with dark matter or dark energy, but that the humans who built the technology may not be able to determine how exactly the computer solved the problems.

Along the lines of this potential for dangerous use of the technology, he stated how AI development, though sometimes a force for good, “plays” with human lives.

He pointed out that to deal with this great technological power, almost every country now has created a governmental to oversee the ethics of AI development.

Schmidt stated that western values must be the dominant values in AI platforms that influence everyday life such as ones that have key implications for democracy.

With all the consideration on how to make AI work so it is effective but also utilitarian, Kissinger noted how much human thinking must go into managing the “thinking” these machines do, and that “a mere technological edge is not in itself decisive” in terms of AI that can compete with adversaries such as China’s diplomatic technological might.

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Artificial Intelligence

Vaccine Makers Promote Use of Artificial Intelligence for Development

Artificial Intelligence assists in the development of vaccine research and trial testing, makers say.

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Najat Khan, Janssen’s research and development global head of strategy

WASHINGTON, December 15, 2021 – Artificial intelligence is helping accelerate the development of COVID-19 vaccines.

Leaders in Janssen’s and Moderna’s research and development groups said Tuesday that AI will help drug makers create better, more effective vaccines for patients.

Speaking at Bloomberg’s Technology Summit on Tuesday, Najat Khan, Janssen’s research and development global head of strategy, said AI is speeding up the delivery of new vaccines for populations in need. (Janssen is a subsidiary of Johnson & Johnson.)

“We use AI and machine learning to predict performance of clinical sites for potential [vaccine] trial sites,” Khan said. AI can help researchers target patients for trials to obtain more comprehensive data sets. Vaccine developers spend time, money, and resources finding patients to participate in clinical trials.

Khan said “only four percent” of eligible patients join a clinical trial. AI can help researchers focus their efforts to identify patients to participate, she said.

Outstanding concerns with AI

Despite AI’s usefulness in vaccine development, Khan said there is still a gap that exists between the information available in healthcare and what’s useful for AI. “There’s lots of data generated in health care, but it’s not connected,” Khan stated. “If it’s not connected, it’s fragmented.”

The problem, Khan said, is the varying systems health clinics use to input and store patients’ information. “Different systems across different clinics needs the same data,” Khan added. “I can go to two different clinics, each one year apart, and my data would be separate.”

On a large scale, mismatched datasets lead to “an over-index of patient information in some areas and an under-index in others,” she said.

For better innovation in treating and curing diseases, health providers need better ways to gather share data while complying with patient privacy concerns, Khan added.

One of health care providers’ challenges is effective data minimization and ensuring that health entities only use patient data according to the patient’s consent over the use of their data. The industry is starting to see progress with tokenization, Khan said, which anonymizes data and links with other data sources for a specific patient-focused purpose.

“This allows us to do even more with AI,” Khan said.

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