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Google Cloud AI removes gender labels from Cloud Vision API to avoid bias

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Google Cloud AI is removing the ability to label people in images as “man” or “woman” with its Cloud Vision API, the company told VentureBeat today. Labeling is used to classify images and train machine learning models, but Google is removing gendered labels because it violates Google’s AI principle to avoid creating biased systems.

“Given that a person’s gender cannot be inferred by appearance, we have decided to remove these labels in order to align with the artificial intelligence principles at Google, specifically Principle #2: avoid creating or reinforcing unfair bias. After today, a non-gendered label such as ‘person’ will be returned by Cloud Vision API,” a Google spokesperson told VentureBeat in an email.

VentureBeat reached out to Microsoft’s Azure and Amazon’s AWS to ask if they intend to remove gender labels from their cloud AI services. We will update this story with more information when we hear back.

The Google Cloud Vision API provides computer vision for customers to detect objects and faces. Google previously blocked the use of gender-based pronouns in an AI tool in 2018.

Many facial analysis and facial recognition systems on the market today predict gender but have challenges identifying people who do not conform to gender norms, people who are transgender, and women of color.

A study last fall by University of Colorado, Boulder researchers found that AI from Amazon, Clarifai, Microsoft, and others maintained accuracy rates above 95% for cisgender men and women but misidentified trans men as women 38% of the time. People with no gender identity were misidentified 100% of the time.

Lead author Morgan Klaus Scheuerman told VentureBeat Google he believes Google is attempting to set itself apart from competitors. Systems from companies like Microsoft can label people like waitresses, air woman, or military woman.

“We basically discussed [in work last fall] how the decisions that are being made in all systems are inherently political. And in the cases of where you’re kind of classifying things about human beings, it becomes more. I think we should assess more what that what the political notions of that are. And so I’m very excited that Google is kind of taking that seriously,” he told VentureBeat in a phone interview.

In recent years, researchers like Joy Boulamwini performing system audits found major facial recognition providers tend to work best on white men and worse on women of color.

A lack of high performance for all people is a primary reason lawmakers in state legislatures, cities like San Francisco, and the U.S. Senate have proposed bans or moratoriums on the use of facial recognition systems.



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Biggest technology acquisitions 2020 | Computerworld

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Last year marked a slight decrease in global technology M&A activity from the blockbuster year that was 2018 – when SAP bought Qualtrics for $8 billion, IBM acquired Red Hat for a staggering $33 billion and Broadcom picked up CA Technologies for $18.9 billion in cash.

As of the end of Q3 2019, technology M&A deals worth $245 billion had been announced globally, marking a decrease of 25% year-on-year according to GlobalData.

Which mergers and acquisitions does 2020 have in store? If January alone is anything to go by then there will be no slowing of major deals across the industry, with security already proving to be a hot area.

Here are the biggest technology acqusitions of 2020 so far, in reverse chronological order:

March 26: Microsoft to acquire Affirmed Networks

Microsoft announced that it is acquiring the Boston-based Affirmed Networks for an undisclosed amount in March. The 2010-founded company specialises in virtualisation and cloud-based mobile network technology, which makes it an attractive acquisition target for any company investing in next-generation 5G connectivity.

“This acquisition will allow us to evolve our work with the telecommunications industry, building on our secure and trusted cloud platform for operators. With Affirmed Networks, we will be able to offer new and innovative solutions tailored to the unique needs of operators, including managing their network workloads in the cloud,” Yousef Khalidi, corporate vice president of Azure Networking wrote in a blog post.

The terms of this deal were not announced but Affirmed was most recently valued at north of $1.3 billion following a $38 million funding round in 2019.

March 2: BMC Software to acquire Compuware

Enterprise software stalwart BMC agreed to buy Compuware in March for an undisclosed amount, marking its third purchase of a mainframe specialist in just over a year.



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The Best Rechargeable AA Batteries of 2020

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The Best Rechargeable

Credit: Richard Baguley / Reviewed

Energizer Universal Rechargeable batteries offer the best balance of power and price that we could find.

The Best Rechargeable

Credit: Richard Baguley / Reviewed

AmazonsBasics’ AA rechargeable batteries are a great low-cost option.

How We Tested

battery-charger

Credit: Reviewed / Seamus Bellamy

All batteries were completely charged before testing began.

The Tester

I’m Richard Baguley, and I have been testing and breaking technology for over 20 years. In that time I have tested everything from automatic coffee makers to wearable computers. Until 2012, I was the VP of Editorial Development at Reviewed.com, where I created the testing protocols that are still used for products such as TVs, dishwashers, coffee makers and refrigerators.

The Tests

The most important things about rechargeable batteries are how much charge they can hold and how quickly they can deliver it.

So, we tested them by doing just that, using two high-end rechargeable battery chargers (a La Crosse BC700-CBP and a SkyRC MC3000) to measure the amount of charge that each of the batteries could hold, testing four of each and averaging the result. We tested AA batteries as these are the most commonly used size for modern electronics such as TV remotes, as well as some smart doorbells and outdoor security cameras.

To see how long the batteries in our test group would last, we used them to run two devices: a small battery-powered fan and a powerful flashlight. Drawing 0.6 and 1.4 Amps, respectively, these devices allowed us to measure how long each battery can run during low-drain and high-drain use. For these tests, we ran our fan at maximum speed, recording how long it kept rotating. Our flashlight was operated at maximum brightness—roughly 350 lumens—as we recorded how long it stayed lit.

fans-for-testing

Credit: Reviewed / Seamus Bellamy

To calculate how long the batteries would last, fans were left running until each battery died.

When the blades stopped turning, the time was noted and the test was stopped. In instances where I had to step away from observing the test, I set up a GoPro camera to record the operation of the fans, just in case one stopped running before I got back.

What You Should Know About Rechargeable Batteries

Rechargeable batteries are pretty simple devices, but there is a lot of jargon surrounding them. Here’s our guide to the things you need to know to make an informed choice.

  • NiMH: Nickel Metal Hydride. The chemistry inside the battery that stores the electrical charge. One side of the battery is made of Nickel Oxide Hydroxide, and the other is made of an alloy of several rare earth metals. When the battery is charged, the Nickel Oxide Hydroxide gives up a Hydrogen ion, which is absorbed by the alloy. When the battery is used, this is reversed, creating a flow of electric charge out of the battery.
  • Charger: the device that controls the flow of charge into a battery. You should never use a NiMH battery (like the ones in this guide) with a non-NiMH charger, as this can damage them.
  • LSD: Low Self Discharge. All batteries lose a certain amount of charge over time, even when they are not connected to anything. This is called self-discharge. Typically, a NiMH battery will lose up to half its charge if stored for a year. Some batteries minimize this by adding extra insulation inside the battery.
  • mAh: milliamp-hours. A measure of the amount of charge that can be stored in a battery. 1 mAh is a flow of one milliamp over an hour, so a 2500 mAh battery can deliver 2500 milliamps (or 2.5 Amps) for one hour, or 250 milliamps for 10 hours.
  • Cycles or Recharge Life: Each full charge and discharge is one battery cycle. All batteries lose capacity when used, meaning that they can store a little less charge with each cycle. Manufacturers offer a cycle life, a number of cycles that the battery can go through before it loses a certain amount of its capacity. This is defined in a standard called IEC 61951-2.
  • Other Sizes and Adapters: We focused on rechargeable AA batteries for this guide as they are, by far, the most commonly used battery size. They can also be used to power devices that require C- and D-size batteries, too. All you have to do is pop them into an appropriately-sized adapter and you’re in business. This adapter set from Eneloop is a great option for anyone interested in doing this.

Other Rechargeable AA Batteries We Tested

Checking our work.

We use standardized and scientific testing methods to scrutinize every product and provide you with objectively accurate results. If you’ve found different results in your own research, email us and we’ll compare notes. If it looks substantial, we’ll gladly re-test a product to try and reproduce these results. After all, peer reviews are a critical part of any scientific process.

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Leveraging Technology To Curb Spread Of Deadly Virus

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