Lab explores dystopian future of AI helping cops catch criminals

Plus: US AI Bill of Rights, and a new framework to run models on AMD and Nvidia GPUs more flexibly

In brief America's Pacific Northwest National Laboratory is looking into how AI technologies can be used to create a "Digital Police Officer" or "D-PO" in the future.

Freedom-of-information requests filed by the Electronic Frontier Foundation show the US Department of Energy-funded lab envisions cops may one day be able to partner up with a virtual crime-fighting assistant. D-PO would be capable of, for instance, tapping into facial recognition systems to alert a police officer on patrol to a suspect nearby, and can even offer advice on how best to apprehend the suspect.

The EFF warned against the plod teaming up with software like D-PO, citing concerns over inaccurate facial recognition matches and biased predictive policing policies.

"The good news is that in the emails we obtained, one of the authors acknowledges in internal emails that elements like a D-PO taking over driving is a 'long way off' and monitoring live drone feeds is 'not a near-term capability,' the digital privacy-focused non-profit said

The national lab has also described how a separate virtual assistant, BITS, could provide US border and customs agents with visual data to help them crack down on narcotics trafficking. "The records EFF received do not indicate any official interest from CBP or the Department of Homeland Security. However, BITS may not be as far off in the future as the D-PO," it said.

Uber is getting back into the self-driving taxi game

Ride-hailing giant Uber announced a ten-year deal with self-driving car startup Motional Inc to develop autonomous taxis.

Uber scrapped efforts to develop its own self-driving vehicles in-house, and sold its Advanced Technology Group unit to autonomous vehicle biz Aurora back in 2020. Now, it is trying to revive efforts to get back into the business of robotaxis by contracting with a third-party vendor to build the cars needed.

Motional will provide the hardware, whilst Uber will connect them with riders. "This agreement will be instrumental to the wide scale adoption of robotaxis," Karl Iagnemma, President and CEO of Motional, said in a statement.

"Motional now has unparalleled access to millions of riders and a roadmap to scale significantly over the next ten years. We're proud to partner with Uber to bring both driverless ride-hail and deliveries to life in cities throughout the US."

Both companies have worked together before. Motional launched tests of its self-driving, electric IONIQ 5 vehicles to deliver food to Uber Eats customers in Santa Monica, California in May.

Optimize PyTorch models across AMD and Nvidia's GPUs

Researchers at Meta released AITemplate, a new framework aimed at speeding up the inference process of AI models running on graphic processing units from Nvidia and AMD.

Developers have to rewrite code if they want to optimize their models on different hardware, making it a huge painstaking task to switch. AITemplate (AIT), however, offers them more flexibility by transforming neural networks written in PyTorch into CUDA or HIP C++ code to support Nvidia's A100 and AMD's MI200 GPU systems. 

"With AIT, it is now possible to run performant inference on hardware from both GPU providers," Meta said in a blog post. "We've used AIT to achieve performance improvements up to 12x on NVIDIA GPUs and 4x on AMD GPUs compared with eager mode within PyTorch."

Developers are planning to expand AIT to support Apple's M-series GPUs as well as CPUs too. You can access the codebase here.

US AI Bill of Rights

This week the White House proposed an AI Bill of Rights, a non-binding blueprint to help agencies, private industry, and citizens guide the development and deployment of algorithms.

People should be entitled to protection from unsafe systems, discrimination, and their privacy should be respected. They should also know when and how their personal data is being used, and should be able to opt out of automated services if possible. 

"Automated technologies are driving remarkable innovations and shaping important decisions that impact people's rights, opportunities, and access. The Blueprint for an AI Bill of Rights is for everyone who interacts daily with these powerful technologies — and every person whose life has been altered by unaccountable algorithms," Alondra Nelson, the Office of Science and Technology Policy Deputy Director, said in a statement.

The bill is designed to help lawmakers shape policies and encourage developers to build AI systems safely. What this means in practice, however, is unclear considering the bill falls short of enforcing any new laws aimed at regulating AI. ®

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