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Technology Still Has the Power to Make The World a Better Place, Gary Shapiro Says at CES 2021



Photo of Gary Shapiro from CES2021

January 12, 2021 – Technology still has the power to unite and to give, said Gary Shapiro, CEO of the Consumer Technology Association, at the start of 54th annual Consumer Electronics Show.

While the year of 2020 has upended virtually everyone’s lives in ways never before seen, and in spite of the challenges brought on by the pandemic, Shapiro maintained that “tech will help solve more fundamental human problems in the next two decades than it has in the last two centuries.”

Microsoft CEO Satya Nadella joined the discussion with CTA Executive Vice President Karen Chupka and Shapiro, speaking about the important role Microsoft’s products including the Xbox, Teams, and Azure play in the home, at work, and for the community. Technology has been such a unifying force during the pandemic, Nadella said, and innovation is crucial to solve problems.

“The future of work will require more flexibility, how people collaborate and learn, and their wellbeing,” he said.

Shapiro emphasized that life will be better and safer for everyone with innovation. He particularly highlighted the need for high-speed broadband readily accessible in homes, acceleration of 5G deployment, and extending broadband to underserved and rural areas are serious needs that many find unity on.

The COVID-19 pandemic has also forced the health care industry to evolve and paved the way for telehealth to become a new norm, he said. He also noted the government’s role in technology innovation, specifically self-driving cars and contactless transportation. He called for government to set national rules to drive investment and deployment.

While political parties of any kind are difficult to please everyone, “innovation is bigger than one country or political party, and has the potential to lift everyone up,” said Shapiro.

In addition to calling for a more inclusive immigrant workplace, he referenced the incoming President-elect Joe Biden’s administration and highlighted the importance of having thoughtful, fact-based discussions about why tech is good with his new administration and in the internet of things as a whole.

AI will help solve challenges brought on by the pandemic

Other speakers in the opening session included Bridget Karlin, Global Chief Technology Officer at IBM and the new chair of CTA, Said $16 trillion will be added to the global economy by 2030 through artificial intelligence-fueled advancea in access to data and computing.

AI has solved some of the most challenging problems caused by COVID-19. For example, workers in supply chains are overextended and exhausted, increasing safety concerns. AI helps alleviate healthcare workers during the COVID-19 pandemic by targeting certain individuals for clinical trials, accelerating drug discovery, and advancing social and economic developments.

Two years ago, CTA announced plans to invest $10 million in venture firms and funds focused on women, people of color, and other underrepresented startups and entrepreneurs. Since then, five funds have seen investment. Shapiro announced that the newest fund to receive funding is Plum Alley, a New York based firm focused on healthcare companies.

Plum Alley CEO Deborah Jackson and President Andrea Turner Moffitt spoke about diversity and women in STEM. “Our vision for the future is that the next generation of hybrid technology and healthcare companies that go public or get acquired are founded by world class diverse teams,” they said. Jackson and Moffitt thanked the CTA for investing in and supporting women.

Chupka also recapped how, at CES 2020 last year, it launched the World Bank Global Tech Challenge. A series of programs and competitions designed to focus on healthcare and resilience and bridging the gender divide led to more than 1,000 applications, about 15 finalists were chosen. The two winners of this challenge were Butterfly Networks and Tricog, with Micromentor by Mercy Corps as winner of the gender challenge.

Born in China and adopted to American Fork, Utah, Reporter Derek Shumway graduated from Brigham Young University with a bachelor's degree in political science and a minor in international strategy and diplomacy. At college, he started an LED lightbulb company. word

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Artificial Intelligence

Sen. Bennet Urges Companies to Consider ‘Alarming’ Child Safety Risks in AI Chatbot Race

Several leading tech companies have rushed to integrate their own AI-powered applications



Photo of Sen. Michael Bennet in 2019 by Gage Skidmore, used with permission

WASHINGTON, March 22, 2023 — Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., on Tuesday urged the companies behind generative artificial intelligence products to anticipate and mitigate the potential harms that AI-powered chatbots pose to underage users.

“The race to deploy generative AI cannot come at the expense of our children,” Bennet wrote in a letter to the heads of Google, OpenAI, Meta, Microsoft and Snap. “Responsible deployment requires clear policies and frameworks to promote safety, anticipate risk and mitigate harm.”

In response to the explosive popularity of OpenAI’s ChatGPT, several leading tech companies have rushed to integrate their own AI-powered applications. Microsoft recently released an AI-powered version of its Bing search engine, and Google has announced plans to make a conversational AI service “widely available to the public in the coming weeks.”

Social media platforms have followed suit, with Meta CEO Mark Zuckerberg saying the company plans to “turbocharge” its AI development the same day Snapchat launched a GPT-powered chatbot called My AI.

These chatbots have already demonstrated “alarming” interactions, Bennet wrote. In response to a researcher posing as a child, My AI gave instructions for lying to parents about an upcoming trip with a 31-year-old man and for covering up a bruise ahead of a visit from Child Protective Services.

A Snap Newsroom post announcing the chatbot acknowledged that “as with all AI-powered chatbots, My AI is prone to hallucination and can be tricked into saying just about anything.”

Bennet criticized the company for deploying My AI despite knowledge of its shortcomings, noting that 59 percent of teens aged 13 to 17 use Snapchat. “Younger users are at an earlier stage of cognitive, emotional, and intellectual development, making them more impressionable, impulsive, and less equipped to distinguish fact from fiction,” he wrote.

These concerns are compounded by an escalating youth mental health crisis, Bennet added. In 2021, more than half of teen girls reported feeling persistently sad or hopeless and one in three seriously contemplated suicide, according to a recent report from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

“Against this backdrop, it is not difficult to see the risk of exposing young people to chatbots that have at times engaged in verbal abuse, encouraged deception and suggested self-harm,” the senator wrote.

Bennet’s letter comes as lawmakers from both parties are expressing growing concerns about technology’s impact on young users. Legislation aimed at safeguarding children’s online privacy has gained broad bipartisan support, and several other measures — ranging from a minimum age requirement for social media usage to a slew of regulations for tech companies — have been proposed.

Many industry experts have also called for increased AI regulation, noting that very little legislation currently governs the powerful technology.

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VON Evolution Conference Will Address Intersection of Telecom, AI, 5G and Blockchain

The New York City event on April 18 aims to foster conversations through a salon-like atmosphere.



Screenshot of Vonage Founder Jeff Pulver from video introducing VON: Evolution

WASHINGTON, March 21, 2023 — Industry leaders and innovators will come together to discuss the latest advancements in telecom, artificial intelligence, 5G and blockchain at the recently announced VON: Evolution conference on April 18.

Through a series of fireside chats and in-depth conversations, VON: Evolution will examine modern communication technologies and look toward the future. In addition to featuring insights from industry experts, the New York City event aims to foster a salon-like atmosphere, facilitating thought-provoking conversations between attendees.

VON: Evolution will be curated by Jeff Pulver, founder of Vonage and a prominent voice-over-IP entrepreneur.

“Industries and technologies are intersecting and they will continue to at a rapid rate,” Pulver said. “By holding the VON: Evolution salon, the goal is to bring to light what’s really emerging, by having conversations with the actual creators who can bring greater insight and perspective, and enable others at the forefront of advancements to be engaging across the four industries, not just in their own ecosystems.”

Speakers at the conference will address a wide range of topics, with a particular emphasis on the intersections of multiple technologies. The digital program features a full list of topics and speakers, including Althea CEO Deborah Simpier, Foursquare Co-Founder Dennis Crowley, Agoric COO Michael Jablon and several others.

Broadband Breakfast is a sponsor of VON: Evolution. Use promo code “broadband” for a 10 percent discount on the registration price.

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Artificial Intelligence

Oversight Committee Members Concerned About New AI, As Witnesses Propose Some Solutions

Federal government can examine algorithms for generative AI, and coordinate with states on AI labor training.




Photo of Eric Schmidt from December 2011 by Kmeron used with permission

WASHINGTON, March 14, 2023 –  In response to lawmakers’ concerns over the impacts on certain artificial intelligence technologies, experts said at an oversight subcommittee hearing on Wednesday that more government regulation would be necessary to stem their negative impacts.

Relatively new machine learning technology known as generative AI, which is designed to create content on its own, has taken the world by storm. Specific applications such as the recently surfaced ChatGPT, which can write out entire novels from basic user inputs, has drawn both marvel and concern.

Such AI technology can be used to encourage cheating behaviors in academia as well as harm people through the use of  deep fakes, which uses AI to superimpose a user in a video. Such AI can be used to produce “revenge pornography” to harass, silence and blackmail victims.

Aleksander Mądry, professor of Cadence Design Systems of Massachusetts Institute of Technology, told the subcommittee that AI is a very fast moving technology, meaning the government needs to step in to confirm the objectives of the companies and whether the algorithms match the societal benefits and values. These generative AI technologies are often limited to their human programming and can also display biases.

Rep. Marjorie Taylor Greene, R-Georgia, raised concerns about this type of AI replacing human jobs. Eric Schmidt, former Google CEO and now chair of the AI development initiative known as the Special Competitive Studies Project, said that if this AI can be well-directed, it can aid people in obtaining higher incomes and actually creating more jobs.

To that point, Rep. Stephen Lynch, D-Massachusetts., raised the question of how much progress the government has made or still needs in AI development.

Schmidt said governments across the country need to look at bolstering the labor force to keep up.

“I just don’t see the progress in government to reform the way of hiring and promoting technical people,” he said. “This technology is too new. You need new students, new ideas, new invention – I think that’s the fastest way.

“On the federal level, the easiest thing to do is to come up with some program that’s ministered by the state or by leading universities and getting them money so that they can build these programs.”

Schmidt urged lawmakers last year to create a digital service academy to train more young American students on AI, cybersecurity and cryptocurrency, reported Axios.

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