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The largest-ever study of facial-recognition data shows how much the rise of deep learning has fueled a loss of privacy.

In 1964, mathematician and computer scientist Woodrow Bledsoe first attempted the task of matching suspects’ faces to mugshots. He measured out the distances between different facial features in printed photographs and fed them into a computer program. His rudimentary successes would set off decades of research into teaching machines to recognize human faces.

Now a new study shows just how much this enterprise has eroded our privacy. It hasn’t just fueled an increasingly powerful tool of surveillance. The latest generation of deep-learning-based facial recognition has completely disrupted our norms of consent.

Deborah Raji, a fellow at nonprofit Mozilla, and Genevieve Fried, who advises members of the US Congress on algorithmic accountability, examined over 130 facial-recognition data sets compiled over 43 years. They found that researchers, driven by the exploding data requirements of deep learning, gradually abandoned asking for people’s consent. This has led more and more of people’s personal photos to be incorporated into systems of surveillance without their knowledge.

It has also led to far messier data sets: they may unintentionally include photos of minors, use racist and sexist labels, or have inconsistent quality and lighting. The trend could help explain the growing number of cases in which facial-recognition systems have failed with troubling consequences, such as the false arrests of two Black men in the Detroit area last year.

People were extremely cautious about collecting, documenting, and verifying face data in the early days, says Raji. “Now we don’t care anymore. All of that has been abandoned,” she says. “You just can’t keep track of a million faces. After a certain point, you can’t even pretend that you have control.”

A history of facial-recognition data

The researchers identified four major eras of facial recognition, each driven by an increasing desire to improve the technology. The first phase, which ran until the 1990s, was largely characterized by manually intensive and computationally slow methods.

But then, spurred by the realization that facial recognition could track and identify individuals more effectively than fingerprints, the US Department of Defense pumped $6.5 million into creating the first large-scale face data set. Over 15 photography sessions in three years, the project captured 14,126 images of 1,199 individuals. The Face Recognition Technology (FERET) database was released in 1996.

The four eras of facial recognition

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The following decade saw an uptick in academic and commercial facial-recognition research, and many more data sets were created. The vast majority were sourced through photoshoots like FERET’s and had full participant consent. Many also included meticulous metadata, Raji says, such as the age and ethnicity of subjects, or illumination information. But these early systems struggled in real-world settings, which drove researchers to seek larger and more diverse data sets.

In 2007, the release of the Labeled Faces in the Wild (LFW) data set opened the floodgates to data collection through a web search. Researchers began downloading images directly from Google, Flickr, and Yahoo without concern for consent. LFW also relaxed standards around the inclusion of minors, using photos found with search terms like “baby,” “juvenile,” and “teen” to increase diversity. This process made it possible to create significantly larger data sets in a short time, but facial recognition still faced many of the same challenges as before. This pushed researchers to seek yet more methods and data to overcome the technology’s poor performance.

Then, in 2014, Facebook used its user photos to train a deep-learning model called DeepFace. While the company never released the data set, the system’s superhuman performance elevated deep learning to the de facto method for analyzing faces. This is when manual verification and labeling became nearly impossible as data sets grew to tens of millions of photos, says Raji. It’s also when really strange phenomena start appearing, like auto-generated labels that include offensive terminology.

The way the data sets were used began to change around this time, too. Instead of trying to match individuals, new models began focusing more on classification. “Instead of saying, ‘Is this a photo of Karen? Yes or no,’ it turned into ‘Let’s predict Karen’s internal personality or her ethnicity,’ and boxing people into these categories,” Raji says.

Amba Kak, the global policy director at AI Now, who did not participate in the research, says the paper offers a stark picture of how the biometrics industry has evolved. Deep learning may have rescued the technology from some of its struggles, but “that technological advance also has come at a cost,” she says. “It’s thrown up all these issues that we now are quite familiar with: consent, extraction, IP issues, privacy.”

Harm that begets harm

Raji says her investigation into the data has made her gravely concerned about deep-learning-based facial recognition.

“It’s so much more dangerous,” she says. “The data requirement forces you to collect incredibly sensitive information about, at minimum, tens of thousands of people. It forces you to violate their privacy. That in itself is a basis of harm. And then we’re hoarding all this information that you can’t control to build something that likely will function in ways you can’t even predict. That’s really the nature of where we’re at.”

She hopes the paper will provoke researchers to reflect on the trade-off between the performance gains derived from deep learning and the loss of consent, meticulous data verification, and thorough documentation. “Was it worth abandoning all of these practices in order to do deep learning?” she says.

She urges those who want to continue building facial recognition to consider developing different techniques: “For us to really try to use this tool without hurting people will require re-envisioning everything we know about it.”

[Source: This article was published in technologyreview.com By Karen Haoarchive - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jay Harris]
Categorized in Internet Privacy

Search Acumen, the property data insight and technology provider, has introduced its first artificial intelligence (AI) tools to speed up the legal due diligence involved in UK property transactions.

The tools have been developed to harness the advances in machine learning – a subfield of artificial intelligence that enables machines to learn from data and achieve more than they ever could with human programming. They come at a crucial time when conveyancers and commercial property lawyers are responding to a “mini boom” in the market with Government support helping to bolster demand.

While the market has spoken about the benefits of AI and machine learning, Search Acumen is one of the first to integrate this technology into the due diligence process. The tools mark a key milestone in the company’s overall vision of a more efficient and productive property market in the UK, with technology being a core driver in the UK economy’s ongoing recovery.

As with any new recruit, the machine learning tools have undergone rigorous training and are now being used to progress transactions of property portfolios by interrogating and cleansing address data submitted by legal firms. The address cleansing tool reduces hours or even days of administrative time spent error-checking and correcting property addresses and creates a more accurate and efficient due diligence process. Lawyers can then spend more time analysing the data and consulting with clients on any potential risks to progress transactions more efficiently.

Incorrect address data can be a major issue, in particular for complex transactions with hundreds or thousands of addresses, as an isolated error can hold back the entire process until it is resolved. In just a few seconds, the machine learning tool reconstructs address data – cross-referencing it against over 30 million official UK addresses – to produce a consistently accurate result. This can then be matched against external records from HM Land Registry, Local Authorities and other important data sources. As with all machine learning, the tool is continually being fed data, trained and updated.

Search Acumen’s introduction of machine learning is already helping law firms and their clients avoid delays and respond more efficiently to the latest surge in demand. The address cleansing tool is now available to all users of Search Acumen’s Portfolio Cloud service – the first technology platform underpinned by AI which allows law firms to create and manage search requirements for entire property portfolios in a single interface.

Search Acumen has simultaneously deployed machine learning to bolster its Customer Support team in delivering the best possible service to its commercial and residential clients at a particularly busy time.

The tool cuts the current processing time of search requests down significantly by categorising emails and attachments and forwarding data to the correct location. The technology is capable of filtering and combining the contents of unlimited emails and attachments received from Local Authorities and other external sources in one place in seconds. It is being constantly fed information so that in future, it can manage the Customer Service’s mailbox without intervention and at great speed without error, freeing up the Customer Support team to focus on delivering the best service to clients.

Andrew Lloyd, Managing Director at Search Acumen said: “We are at a tipping point in the property industry and now is the moment for us all to come together and support the shift towards digital once and for all. We have seen several innovations arise to facilitate property transactions under Covid-19 and collaboration will be key in harnessing these, giving consumers and businesses a faster, simpler and more reliable service.

“We have long been advocates of AI, machine learning and other transformative technologies to streamline and accelerate vital legal real estate processes. While there has been a lot of talk and hype around AI, very few are walking the walk and putting words into actions for the benefit of conveyancers and commercial real estate lawyers. The development of our first machine learning tools is an industry first, which shows how applying technology in daily workflows can radically improve tasks that are often frustrating, frequently mundane and absolutely essential to get right without delay.

“We are already seeing significant cost and time saving benefits for our clients. Rather than replacing jobs, the introduction of AI and machine learning to property transactions enables lawyers and support staff to get back to their role as expert consultants and provide first-class service to their clients.

“This is the first stage in our transition to becoming a business with AI and machine learning at its core.  Having also been part of the world’s first blockchain trial for property transactions, we are committed to equipping real estate lawyers with the tools and techniques to embrace the digital age and make the due diligence process fit-for-purpose for the 21st Century.”

[Source: This article was published in showhouse.co.uk By Isla MacFarlane - Uploaded by the Association Member: Dorothy Allen]

Categorized in Search Techniques

With the U.S. presidential race entering its final sprint, a new analysis of conversations on dark web forums shows hackers discussing potential ways to be disruptive with disinformation and attacks on voting infrastructure.

Data circulating on the dark web could give hackers the ammunition they need to target voters and voting infrastructure ahead of election day, a new report claims.

DarkOwl, a company that uses web crawlers to search darknets like Tor, Zeronet, and I2P, released a study Tuesday revealing how bad actors have discussed disrupting electoral processes via cyberattacks and disinformation.

In this digital underworld, some hackers discuss targeting vulnerabilities in ballot tallying machines; others trade voter registration data between themselves. One "prominent malware developer" boasts that his Remote Access Trojans (RATs) could be used to infect election systems using old security flaws.

The company also found ongoing discussions about potential ways to infiltrate three of the most prominent election administration vendors — Election Systems and Software (ES&S), Hart InterCivic, and Dominion Voting — which are responsible for producing a majority of the voting equipment in the country.

At the same time, the potential for bad actors to organize disinformation campaigns within this environment is high, the report shows. There is a "significant ecosystem" for disinformation services within darknets, wherein customers can procure campaigns from disinformation-as-a-service vendors.

These schemes are fueled by a glut of leaked or hacked data circulating online, according to the report. Some of this information comes from freely available sources online, while other information is the result of previous data breaches and leaks. 

In particular, the report makes note of the recent incident involving Tyler Technologies, provider of state and local government election results products, which was hit by ransomware hackers last month. DarkOwl collected some "2,000 corporate e-mail addresses" of Tyler Technologies that were discovered in darknets, the report says. 

Recent reports have also shown some longstanding vulnerabilities may exist in voter registration databases that are currently exploitable. 

The recent research has shown the way that leaked data sets can be valuable underworld capital, "how they're traded, sold, and how those seed disinformation campaigns," a company analyst told Government Technology. 

However, the discussions being had in these forums don't necessarily mean that discussed attacks would be successful. Some of the vulnerabilities that have been discussed are quite old and most companies and agencies would have issued patches by now.

"DarkOwl assesses election officials and technology vendors would very likely patch their systems accordingly well before the general election, thus the successful use of such a threat is highly improbable," the report says. 

Still, the findings troublingly show how aggregated data can be weaponized. Hackers "could leverage voter names, e-mail addresses and telephone numbers to connect with new audiences and market personalize advertisements according to their views on specific topics, propensity to vote and other factors."

Exactly what kind of threat actors are involved in these transactions? It's often impossible to say, but there are some usual suspects worth mentioning. 

"In that world you don't know who is who," said the analyst, though she added: "The Russians are infamous for tapping unaffiliated organizations and criminal groups to do their bidding."

[Source: This article was published in govtech.com By LUCAS ROPEK - Uploaded by the Association Member: Mercedes J. Steinman]

Categorized in Deep Web

Before I became a reporter at NPR, I worked for a few years at tech companies.

One of the companies was in the marketing technology business — the industry that's devoted in part to tracking people and merging their information, so they can be advertised to more effectively.

That tracking happens in multiple senses: physical tracking, because we carry our phones everywhere we go. And virtual tracking, of all the places we go online.

The more I understood how my information was being collected, shared and sold, the more I wanted to protect my privacy. But it's still hard to know which of my efforts is actually effective and which is a waste of time.

So I reached out to experts in digital security and privacy to find out what they do to protect their stuff – and what they recommend most to us regular folks.

Here's what they told me.

1. To protect your accounts, practice good security hygiene.

There are some steps that make sense for almost all of us, says Eva Galperin, director of cybersecurity at the Electronic Frontier Foundation. Those include using strong passwords, two-factor authentication, and downloading the latest security updates.

She and other experts make a distinction between privacy and security when it comes to your data. Security generally refers to protecting against someone trying to access your stuff — such as stealing your credit card number or hacking your accounts. Privacy is more often used to talk about keeping your movements from being tracked for purposes of advertising or surveillance.

It turns out that the steps to protect your security are more clear-cut than those for privacy — but we'll come back to that.

Use strong passwords or passphrases for your accounts. Longer than a password, passphrases should be strong and unique for each site. Don't use 1234. Bring some randomness and special characters into it. And don't use the same password for different websites: You don't want all your accounts to be compromised just because one gets hacked.

Use a password manager to keep track of your passwords, Galperin says — then all you have to do is remember the passphrase for your password manager.

Turn on two-factor authentication for your important accounts. You've seen this: Usually you're asked to put in your mobile number so that you can receive a text with an additional number you input before you can log in.

That's the most common type of two-factor authentication — but it's not the strongest, Galperin says, because SMS messages can be intercepted by your Internet provider, law enforcement or the government.

If you want to go a step further, Galperin recommends using an application that sends the second factor to an app on your phone, such as Authy or Google Authenticator, as these are harder to intercept. (Full disclosure here: NPR receives funding from Google and Facebook.) You can also use a physical key you carry with you that plugs into your computer's USB port and serves as the second factor.

Download the latest security updates.

Those nudges you get from your computer or phone to install the latest security update? You should download those.

"Most applications, when they're compromised, are not compromised by scary zero-day bugs that nobody knows about," Galperin says. "They are compromised by problems that everybody knows exist that have been publicly reported, and that the company has fixed and they have issued a patch in their security update. But if you do not take the security update, you do not get the benefit of the work of the security engineers at that company."

2. Beware of phishing.

Not all attacks on our security come through malware or hackers invisibly breaking into your account. It's common that we're tricked into handing over our passwords or personal information to bad actors.

These attempts can happen via email, text message or a phone call. And generally they're trying to get your username and password, or perhaps your Social Security number. But there are often signs that these messages aren't legit – spelling or grammar errors, links to websites other than the one it should be linking to, or the email is coming from a weird domain.

If it feels fishy, it might be phishing.

3. Protect what matters most.

Depending on your situation, you might want to take additional precautions to safeguard your privacy and security.

To figure out what steps people should take to safeguard their stuff, Galperin suggests you make a security plan. The Electronic Frontier Foundation has a guide to doing this, which starts by asking yourself these questions:

  • What do I want to protect?
  • Whom do I want to protect it from?
  • How bad are the consequences if I don't?
  • How likely is it to need protecting?
  • And how much trouble am I willing to go through to try to protect it?

You can use the answers to those questions to focus your efforts on securing the things that matter most to you.

4. Delete some apps from your phone. Use a browser instead.

Matt Mitchell is a tech fellow at the Ford Foundation, and the founder of CryptoHarlem, an organization that teaches people to protect their privacy, including from surveillance.

Apps can learn a lot about you due to all the different types of data they can access via your phone. Seemingly harmless apps – like say, a flashlight app — could be selling the data they gather from you.

That's why Mitchell recommends "Marie Kondo-ing" your apps: Take a look at your smartphone and delete all the apps you don't really need. For many tasks, you can use a browser on your phone instead of an app.

Privacy-wise, browsers are preferable, because they can't access as much of your information as an app can.

I mentioned to Mitchell that even though I use Facebook and Twitter, I don't have those apps on my phone — partly so that I'll use them less, and partly for privacy reasons. I wanted to know — did I accomplish anything by not having those apps on my phone?

"You've accomplished a lot," he says. He compares it to oil companies turning crude into petrol: Your data can be turned into profit for these companies. "Every time you don't use an app, you're giving them less data, which is less money."

Mitchell says that's true even if you've been on Facebook a long time, and it feels like the company already knows everything about you. He compares it to smoking: It's never too late to cut back or quit — you'll still benefit by giving it less data to harvest.

5. To protect your chats, use an encrypted app for messaging.

If you want the contents of your messages to be secure, it's best to use an app that has end-to-end encryption, such as Signal or WhatsApp. That means you and the recipient can read the message you send — but no one in the middle.

But even though the contents of your messages are protected by encryption in apps such as Signal and WhatsApp, your metadata isn't — and someone could learn a lot about you from your metadata, Galperin warns. She compares it to what you can learn just by looking at the outside of an envelope in the mail: who sent it to whom, when and where it was sent from.

And WhatsApp is owned by Facebook — so when you share your contacts with WhatsApp, Facebook is getting that info, though it can't read the contents of your messages.

If you're on an iPhone, iMessages are encrypted when you're messaging another iOS device — but not when you're messaging an Android phone. Signal offers encrypted messaging on both Android and iPhone.

What about Facebook Messenger? Jen King, director of privacy at Stanford Law School's Center for Internet and Society, advises against using the Messenger app.

The app "has access to far more info on your phone than using Facebook through a browser," she says, recommending something such as WhatsApp or regular SMS texting instead.

And if encryption matters to you, be careful about backing up your chats to the cloud. If you back up your WhatsApp messages to iCloud or Google Drive, for example, they're no longer encrypted.

"That backup is just a database. And that database is easy for someone to open and read," Mitchell says, if they were able to access your cloud account. To keep your messages from prying eyes, turn off cloud backups and delete existing WhatsApp backups from iCloud or Google Drive.

6. Turn off ad personalization.

Whenever possible, Mitchell recommends going into your settings and turning off ad personalization, which often gives companies permission to do invasive tracking.

Opting Out Of Ad Personalization On Some Major Platforms

Google and Android

Here's a link to limit ad personalization on Google and Android.

Apple

This page shows you how to opt out of ad personalization on Apple. As of this writing, it hasn't been updated for iOS 14. If you have updated to iOS 14, go to Settings > Privacy > Apple Advertising > turn off Personalized Ads.

Facebook

  • On this page, you can go to the ad settings tab and toggle the settings to not allowed.
  • This page has steps to disconnect your activity off Facebook that is shared with Facebook, and clear that history.
  • On the Off-Facebook activity page, under What You Can Do, you can click on More Options > Manage Future Activity > and toggle it to off. (This page has those steps.)

Twitter

This page explains how to opt out of ad personalization.

He also recommends going to myactivity.google.com and deleting everything you can. On the left, there's a tab that says "Delete activity by." Select "All time." On your My Google Activity page, you can turn off Web & App Activity, Location History and YouTube History.

"It will show you every search term and everything you've ever done, every YouTube video you've ever looked at, all that stuff," he says. "It'll say, are you sure you want to delete this? 'Cause if you delete this, it might affect some stuff." Mitchell says: Delete it.

7. It's difficult to protect your privacy online if there aren't laws to protect your privacy online.

Tighter privacy settings only get you so far without laws that protect your privacy, says Ashkan Soltani, the former chief technologist for the Federal Trade Commission and one of the architects of the 2018 California Consumer Privacy Act.

There are laws around health information and credit and financial information, he explains, and some states have Internet privacy-related laws.

But nationally, the U.S. doesn't have a universal data privacy law safeguarding everyday online privacy.

Soltani says he rarely recommends steps such as using ad blockers or VPNs for most people. They require too much attention and persistence to deliver on privacy, and even then they are limited in their effectiveness.

"The incentives are so high on the other side," Soltani says, "to uniquely identify people and track them that [users] will never have enough motivation and incentive to do it to the degree of this multibillion dollar ad tech industry."

So how do you protect your privacy? Get involved and call your congressperson, he says — tell the policymakers that you care about online privacy.

8. Start small and take it one step at a time.

Faced with this landscape, getting a tighter hold on your digital privacy and security can feel daunting. But Galperin has this sound advice: Just do a little bit at a time.

You don't need to make a list of all of your accounts to integrate into a password manager — you can just do each account as you log into it.

Even just doing the basics — strengthening your passwords, turning on two-factor authentication and watching out for scammers — can make your accounts a lot more secure. Then keep going: There are a lot of other steps you might want to take, depending on your needs.

We're going to be on the Internet for a long time. The more each of us understands how our data are collected and used — and how to keep private what we want to keep private — the better, safer and healthier our digital lives will be.

 [Source: This article was published in npr.org By LAUREL WAMSLEY - Uploaded by the Association Member: Barbara larson]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

We all live in a digital world in which being in constant touch with technology is not just an option, but it is a necessity. This definitely has had a number of positive effects on society, but it also comes with its fair share of drawbacks. And one such drawback is in terms of the whole host of privacy issues.

When you are surfing on the internet, you are leaving a number of carbon footprints. And if you are not diligent about protecting your privacy, then somebody could very well track those footprints and steal your personal information. This sounds scary. But the good thing is that if you just a follow few steps, then you can avoid this entire scenario. In this article, we’ll be looking at the top 6 tips that you can follow to protect your privacy while using the internet. The list is mentioned below.

  1. Looking at Social Media Privacy Settings

According to current statistics, millions of people use various social media applications every single day. And the chances are that you are also one of those people. This is why it is important for you to take the necessary steps and protect all your private information that might be present on your social media handle. If someone hires the best detective agency in Delhi, they will surely look into your social media.

Most social medial applications come equipped with a strong privacy setting that you can activate to protect yourself and your information from total strangers on the internet. Also, you can select the people who can view what you post or share on your social media profile. This goes a long way in keeping your information safe.

  1. Avoid Using Public Storage

When we think of sharing information, then the first thing that comes to our mind is social media. But that is not where the privacy issue ends. Instead, there are also many other ways through which you might be sharing your information. And one such way is to use online sharing platforms for storing private information.

For example, there are many people who save their passwords, videos, photographs, and other documents on Google Drive. And while it is fine to upload some stuff to Google Drive that you mean to share but when it comes to saving your private information, then applications like Google Drive and Dropbox should not be the ideal choice.

  1. Evade Trackers

Surfing the internet is not possible without visiting various websites. And every single time that you visit a website, your browser is disclosing a bunch of information about you. This information is often used by marketers to target you with ads. But this information can also be misused. So, it is suggested that ideally, people should use private browsing services. This option is definitely better than browsing in incognito mode.

  1. Secure Everything

Let’s consider a scenario in which you lost your device or a situation in which a hacker is trying to hack your device. In both of these situations, the only tactic or weapon that can protect your private information is your password.

This is why you must make sure that all of your devices are password protected. You also need to ensure that you have a strong password. It is suggested that you should use a combination of alphabets, numbers, and special characters. When it comes to privacy, you can not let anything slip through the cracks. The biggest reason why I’m saying this is because even a small mistake can make such a big hole in your privacy.

  1. Keeping Your Electronic Devices Safe

Sometimes you can follow all the precautions, but a hacker might still find a way to try and steal your private information. And it is vital for you to also be prepared for a situation like that. This means that you should make sure to install an antivirus program in all of your devices irrespective of whether you are using those devices at your home or outside. You should also set up a firewall on your computer. It is very important to protect your electronic devices safe as a whistle. In today’s day and world, the biggest threat to your privacy is through electronic devices.

  1. Check Your Wi-Fi Connection

Do you remember the last time you were in a coffee shop or you were traveling, and you decided to connect to the internet through the public Wi-Fi network? This is something that most people do daily without giving it much thought. And this is not the right attitude.

The chances are that there are many people connected on the same public Wi-Fi network, and if you connect to that public Wi-Fi, then somebody could decide to snoop on you. So, it is suggested that you should avoid using public Wi-Fi networks. If that is not possible, then you should make it a point not to enter any of your private information while you are connected through a public Wi-Fi network.

[Source: This article was published in newspatrolling.com  - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jeremy Frink]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Over the past several years, a wealth of scientific information has become available courtesy of the efforts from scientists studying the microbiome. However, we have always come across one major issue, which is how to harness the plethora of information the research provides in an efficient manner. Now, an international team of investigators, led by researchers at the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) in Beijing, has put forth a new microbiome search-based method via Microbiome Search Engine (MSE) to analyze the wealth of available health data to detect and diagnose human diseases. Findings from the new study were published recently in mSystems through an article entitled “Multiple-Disease Detection and Classification across Cohorts via Microbiome Search.

“Microbiome-based disease classification depends on well-validated, disease-specific models or markers,” explained lead study investigator Xiaoquan Su, PhD, a research scientist at the Single-Cell Center within the Qingdao Institute of Bioenergy and Bioprocess Technology (QIBEBT) of CAS. “However, current models lack that information for many diseases.”

Multiple diseases can share the same biomarkers—the microorganisms that indicate something out of the ordinary, such as a mutated protein found in cancer cells, making it harder for researchers to classify each one correctly.

To combat these issues for disease detection and classification, the researchers developed a new search approach based on the whole microbial community a human body contains—the microbiome.

“We present an alternative, search-based strategy for disease detection and classification, which detects diseased samples via their outlier novelty versus a database of samples from healthy subjects and then compare these to databases of samples from patients,” the authors wrote. Our strategy’s precision, sensitivity, and speed outperform model-based approaches. In addition, it is more robust to platform heterogeneity and to contamination in 16S rRNA gene amplicon data sets. This search-based strategy shows promise as an essential first step in microbiome big-data-based diagnosis.”

Traditional models compare samples from healthy subjects to those from people known to have specific diseases. With the new method, by searching based on the particular outlier, rather than known biomarkers that can code for several diseases, the researchers can identify the microbiome state associated with the disease across different cohorts or sequencing platforms.

In this new approach, the research team employs a two-step process to identify disease. First, they search a baseline database of healthy individuals to detect any specific microbiome outlier novelty—or any known anomaly that differentiates the microbiome from a healthy state. They then search for that outlier in a database of disease-specific examples.

“Our strategy’s precision, sensitivity, and speed outperform model-based approaches,” SU said.

The results of the search can provide quick predictions to help clinicians diagnose and treat diseases.

“This search-based strategy shows promise as an important first step in microbiome big data-based diagnosis,” according to Rob Knight, PhD, Director of the Center for Microbiome Innovation at UCSD and who recently addressed the GEN audience in a Keynote Webinar on the Dynamic Microbiome. “In light of the general shift of microbiome-sequencing focus from healthy to diseased hosts, the findings here advocate for adding more baseline samples from across different geographic locations.”

The team is working towards encouraging their colleagues to join a coordinated effort to continue expanding the microbiome database, to include every population and every ecosystem on the globe.

“With Microbiome Search Engine, performing a search can become as standard and enabling for new microbiome studies as performing a BLAST against your new DNA sequence is today” concluded XU Jian, Director of Single-Cell Center, QIBEBT.

 [Source: This article was published in genengnews.com - Uploaded by the Association Member: Anna K. Sasaki]

Categorized in Search Engine

It’s a known fact that Google, along with other major tech players like Amazon, Apple, and Facebook, is increasingly trying to grab a slice of the $3 trillion dollar healthcare industry. Now, the search giant is flexing its cloud muscle to team up with healthcare providers to make further inroads.

To that effect, Google has announced a partnership with Ascension, the second-largest health system in the US, in a deal that gives it access to personal health datasets that can be used to develop AI-based tools for medical providers.

The collaboration — dubbed “Project Nightingale” — comes a week after the company’s acquisition of fitness wearable maker Fitbit for $2.1 billion. It also corroborates earlier reports that it’s working on a Google Flights-like search tool to make it easier for doctors to find medical records.

A data-sharing partnership

Interestingly, the partnership was mentioned in Google’s July earnings call, but it came under scrutiny only on Monday after the Wall Street Journal reported that Google would gain detailed personal health information of millions of Americans across 21 states.

The report also said the data involved in the project includes patient names, dates of birth, lab results, doctor diagnoses, and hospitalization records, along with their complete medical histories.

The partnership “covers the personal health records of around 50 million patients of Ascension,” the Journal wrote.

Google confirmed the deal, adding the arrangement adheres to HIPAA regulations regarding patient data and that it will meet the necessary privacy and security requirements.

As the Journal noted, HIPAA laws make it possible for hospitals to share data with its business partners without the consent of patients, provided said information is used only to help the entity meet its clinical functions.

Healthcare as a service

“Ascension’s data cannot be used for any other purpose than for providing these services we’re offering under the agreement, and patient data cannot and will not be combined with any Google consumer data,” Google said.

Ascension, for its part, said it aims to explore AI applications to help improve clinical quality and patient safety. It’s worth pointing out that the company is not paying Google for these services.

For the Mountain View company, the data-sharing project comes with another objective: design a searchable, cloud-based platform to query patient data, which it could then market to other healthcare providers.

The legality aside, it’s not fully clear why the sharing terms would include names and birthdates of patients. But this would also mean adequate safeguards are in place to anonymize the information before it could be used to develop machine learning models for personalized healthcare.

Health privacy concerns

This is far from the first time Google’s cloud division has gone after healthcare providers. It has similar relationships with a number of hospital networks, including Dr. Agarwal’s Eye Hospital, the Chilean Health Ministry, Mayo Clinic, and the American Cancer Society.

Still, the development is bound to raise concerns about health privacy, what with the Journal stating that 150 Google employees may have access to a significant portion of the medical data from Ascension.

That’s not all. The tech giant has been scrutinized for improperly sharing patient data in the name of AI research, and has drawn flak for merging Deepmind Health with Google despite the company’s earlier promises to keep its health initiatives separate.

Given this checkered history, it shouldn’t be much of a surprise if Google — and other big tech companies — grapple with the privacy and security implications associated with handling health information when they are already in possession of enormous amounts of data about their users.

Update on Nov. 13, 9:00 AM IST: Google’s data deal with Ascension is now being investigated by the Office for Civil Rights in the Department of Health and Human Services, the Wall Street Journal reported. The OCR said it “will seek to learn more information about this mass collection of individuals’ medical records to ensure that HIPAA protections were fully implemented.”

[Source: This article was published in thenextweb.com By RAVIE LAKSHMANAN - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Categorized in Internet Privacy

Google Gravity:

Almost all of us use Google in our day to day life. Without Google we can imagine our life as easy as now.

But many times, we get bored with Google Home Page. So, if you want creative and funny Google Homepage, this article is for you.

If we compare Google with other Search Engines, we will notice that Google have number of interesting tricks which other Search Engines doesn’t have.

We will talk about the top 6 Google Magic Tricks which you can use in your spare time and amaze your friends with it as well.

Here are the Top 6 Funny Tricks of Google Gravity by which you can play with Google Home Page and make it more interesting:

1. Google Gravity


With this trick, you can move each and every element of your Google Homepage, with the help of mouse.

It is really amazing experience to play with Google Homepage.

To use this trick, you have to perform the following steps:

Step #1: Visit “www.google.com”.
Step #2: Inside Google Search box type “Google Gravity”.
Step #3: Click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”, instead of “Google Search”.
Step #4: Now that you are on the “Google Gravity” page, move your mouse and all the elements of the Google Homepage will start falling down. You can move every element of the Google Homepage with your mouse. 

2. Google Anti Gravity


Google Anti Gravity is the most funny trick in which every element of the Google Homepage start floating.

You can move every element of the Homepage like – button, search box with the help of mouse click. This is really amazing trick.

To use this trick, you have to perform the following steps:

Step #1: Visit “www.google.com”.
Step #2: Inside Google Search box type “Google Anti Gravity”.
Step #3: Click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”, instead of “Google Search”.
Step #4: Now that you are on the “Google Anti Gravity” page, you will notice that all the element are floating like – they are on the space. You can move every element of the Google Homepage with your mouse.

3. Google Zero Gravity


Google Zero Gravity is the trick which is similar to Google Gravity but unlike it, the element of the Google Homepage will be displayed in opposite manner, like – they are displayed in mirror.

To use this trick, you have to perform the following steps:

Step #1: Visit “www.google.com”.
Step #2: Inside Google Search box type “Google Zero Gravity”.
Step #3: Click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”, instead of “Google Search”.
Step #4: Now that you are on the “Google Zero Gravity” page, you will notice that all the element are in mirror position like – they are displayed on mirror and every element will start falling as well. You can move every element of the Google Homepage with your mouse.

4. Google Underwater


The Google Underwater trick will amaze you for sure.

In this trick, the Google Homepage will be floating on the sea water and you can generate the wave on to the water with the help of your mouse.

To make this trick work, you just have to do the following steps:

Step #1: Visit “www.google.com”.
Step #2: Inside Google Search box type “Google Underwater”.
Step #3: Click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”, instead of “Google Search”.
Step #4: Now that you are on the “Google Underwater” page, you will notice that all the element of Google Homepage are floating on the water. You can use your mouse to move every element of the Google Homepage.

5. Google Sphere


With this trick, you can play with Google Homepage in a really great and amazing way.

With the help of your mouse you can make each and every element of Google Homepage to revolve around Google Logo and make a sphere with it.

It is really fun to use this trick and you should definitely use it.

To perform this trick, you have to do the following steps:

Step #1: Visit “www.google.com”.
Step #2: Inside Google Search box type “Google Sphere”.
Step #3: Click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”, instead of “Google Search”.
Step #4: Now that you are on the “Google Sphere” page. When you will move your mouse, you will notice that every element of the Google Homepage will start revolving around Google Logo.

6. Google do a barrel roll


This is the trick which is not for Google Homepage but for Google index section, where we get the results for our query.

This is really amazing trick in which you can make a Google to do a barrel roll. So, you must try it.

All you have to do is just perform the following steps:

Step #1: Visit “www.google.com”.
Step #2: Inside Google Search box type “Google Anti Gravity”.
Step #3: Click on “I’m Feeling Lucky”, instead of “Google Search”.
Step #4: After this, you will see that Google is doing a barrel roll and it is really amazing to see that.

 

Hope, you like these funny trick on Google with Google Gravity, Google Anti Gravity and Google Zero Gravity.

[Source: This article was published in thecoderpedia.com By CoderPedia - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jennifer Levin]

Categorized in Search Engine

Google said it is making the biggest change to its search algorithm in the past five years that, if successful, users might not be able to detect.

The search giant on Friday announced a tweak to the software underlying its vaunted search engine that is meant to better interpret queries when written in sentence form. Whereas prior versions of the search engine may have overlooked words such as “can” and “to,” the new software is able to help evaluate whether those change the intent of a search, Google has said. Put a bit more simply, it is a way of understanding search terms in relation to each other and it looks at them as an entire phrase, rather than as just a bucket of words, the company said. Google is calling the new software BERT, after a research paper published last year by Google executives describing a form of language processing known as Bidirectional Encoder Representations from Transformers.

While Google is constantly tweaking its algorithm, BERT could affect as many as 10 percent of English language searches, said Pandu Nayak, vice president of search, at a media event. Understanding queries correctly so Google returns the best result on the first try is essential to Google’s transformation from a list of links to determining the right answer without having to even click through to another site. The challenge will increase as queries increasingly move from text to voice-controlled technology.

But even big changes aren’t likely to register with the masses, he conceded.

“Most ranking changes the average person does not notice, other than the sucking feeling that their searches were better,” said Nayak.

“You don’t have the comparison of what didn’t work yesterday and what does work today,” said Ben Gomes, senior vice president of search.

BERT, said Nayak, may be able to determine that a phrase such as “math practice books for adults” likely means the user wants to find math books that adults can use, because of the importance of the word “for.” A prior version of the search engine displayed a book result targeted for “young adults,” according to a demonstration he gave.

Google is rolling out the new algorithm to U.S. users in the coming weeks, the company said. It will later offer it to other countries, though it didn’t offer specifics on timing.

The changes suggest that even after 20 years of data collection and Google’s dominance of search — with about 90 percent market share — Web searches may best be thought of as equal parts art and science. Nayak pointed to examples like searches for how to park a car on a hill with no curb or whether a Brazilian needs a visa to travel to the United States as yielding less than satisfactory results without the aide of the BERT software.

To test BERT, Google turned to its thousands of contract workers known as “raters,” Nayak said, who compared results from search queries with and without the software. Over time, the software learns when it needs to read entire phrases versus just keywords. About 15 percent of the billions of searches conducted each day are new, Google said.

Google said it also considers other input, such as whether a user tries rephrasing a search term rather than initially clicking on one of the first couple of links.

Nayak and Gomes said they didn’t know whether BERT would be used to improve advertising sales that are related to search terms. Advertising accounts for the vast majority of Google’s revenue.

[Source: This article was published inunionleader.com By Greg Bensinger - Uploaded by the Association Member: Jeremy Frink]

Categorized in Search Engine

[Source: This article was published in theverge.com By Loren Grush - Uploaded by the Association Member: Issac Avila]

Now it just needs to launch more satellites

OneWeb — an aerospace company with plans to beam internet connectivity from space — announced plans today to provide “fiber-like internet” coverage to the Arctic starting as early as 2020. Using the company’s planned mega-constellation of satellites, the company says it can provide high-speed internet to homes, boats, and planes all located above the 60th parallel north latitude.

OneWeb is one of many companies aiming to provide internet from space using a complex array of satellites and ground stations. The company plans to launch an initial constellation of 650 spacecraft that will beam internet connectivity to a series of ground terminals on Earth’s surface. These vehicles will orbit at a relatively low altitude, decreasing the time it takes to beam coverage to the surface below. With so many satellites, OneWeb says it can provide global coverage, with at least one satellite in view of any area of the Earth at all times.

That coverage extends to the Arctic, which is a difficult place to lay fiberoptic cables and provide traditional internet connectivity. OneWeb claims that its satellite constellation will be able to provide high-speed internet to the 48 percent of the Arctic that currently doesn’t have broadband coverage. Local politicians are thrilled with the idea, arguing that it will help with economic development in the area.

“Connectivity is critical in our modern economy,” Sen. Lisa Murkowski (R-AK) said in a statement. “As the Arctic opens, ensuring the people of the Arctic have access to affordable and reliable broadband will make development safer, more sustainable and create new opportunities for the next generation leading in this dynamic region of the globe.”

“CONNECTIVITY IS CRITICAL IN OUR MODERN ECONOMY.”

So far, OneWeb has only launched the first six satellites in its constellation, but the company says it was able to conduct some HD video streaming tests with the spacecraft in July. The tests proved that the satellites are operational and have a relatively low latency — under 40 milliseconds in lag time.

Other companies, notably SpaceX and Amazon, are also working to create mega-constellations of satellites that are meant to be even larger than OneWeb’s constellation. In April, Amazon detailed plans to launch a constellation of more than 3,200 satellites, while SpaceX has proposed launching two constellations that will contain nearly 12,000 satellites in total.

SpaceX has already launched the first 60 satellites in its constellation, though three of the first batch failed after reaching orbit. OneWeb argues that its constellation will be deployed “significantly earlier” than other planned constellations, allowing the company to provide coverage to the Arctic sooner than other systems. The company cites the fact that it already has two active ground stations in Norway and Alaska, which are needed to help connect OneWeb’s satellites to the current internet ground infrastructure. Those stations are supposed to be fully operational by January 2020, according to OneWeb, allowing this rollout to the Arctic by next year.

“Connectivity is now an essential utility and a basic human right,” OneWeb CEO Adrian Steckel said in a statement. “Our constellation will offer universal high-speed Arctic coverage sooner than any other proposed system meeting the need for widespread connectivity across the Arctic.”

OneWeb plans to launch its satellites in batches of 36 aboard Arianespace’s Soyuz rocket. The next launch is slated for later this year.

Categorized in Internet Technology
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