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Suggested Story Ideas

AI v. algorithms: What’s the difference? Explain to the public.

– An algorithm is a set of instructions — a preset, rigid, coded recipe that gets executed when it encounters a trigger.

– On the other hand, artificial intelligence (AI) — which is an extremely broad term covering a myriad of AI specializations and subsets — is a group of algorithms that can modify its algorithms and create new algorithms in response to learned inputs and data as opposed to relying solely on the inputs it was designed to recognize as triggers. This ability to change, adapt and grow based on new data, is described as “intelligence.”

• We should think of the relationship between Algorithm and AI as the relationship between “cars and flying cars.”
• The key difference is that an algorithm defines the process through which a decision is made, and AI uses training data to make such a decision.

– Define algorithms (any discreet logical step that creates a system).

– Explain machine learning (how a computer can teach itself).

– Investigate machine learning bias.

AI v. algorithms: A look at how algorithms/AI systems overlap every day in people’s lives.

– Algorithms and AI are already affecting outcomes in the areas of public housing, immigration, unemployment benefits, food stamps and even and journalism work.

Criminal justice: Algorithms play a role in determining jail time, if/when loved ones are released from jail and the distribution of traffic tickets.

– How many times do you come into contact with AI without knowing it?

Can AI predict early death risk? (Link is to a press release, but ask experts to weigh in on claims such as these.)

– Are people trying to take the human element out of decision-making by letting tech decide instead?

Investigate the use of artificial intelligence-based recognition techniques.

– Can AI assist policing in a way that's fair and effective?

– Are there any local law enforcement agencies already employing this type of AI tech?

– Historical context: the ways police train to detect deception (the Reid method of interrogation) have been criticized for producing false confessions. Are these techniques being programmed into the ways AI assists policing?

Facial recognition software: What is it and how does it work?

– Facial recognition software matches faces to a database containing billions of images, all indexed from the internet — including people's social media profiles.

– The software is used by private companies, law enforcement agencies and universities.

– Such use raises privacy violations and constitutional rights concerns.

Clearview AI helps law enforcement match photos of unknown people to their online images.

• Do an open records request of your local and state enforcement agency. Are they using Clearview AI or similar software?

• Submit a FOIA request to investigate purchasing orders. What software tech are law enforcement agencies buying? (Are your tax dollars being used to spy on you?)

• There’s always one person who gets all the solicitation emails. Find out who, then ask for all the marketing emails. That information can lead to purchase asks, which can lead to requisition orders. If the law enforcement agency is using one type of software, they will get similar solicitations.

– Facebook’s facial recognition software holds “the largest facial dataset to date”—powered by DeepFace, Facebook’s deep-learning facial recognition system.

• Unlike Clearview AI, which gathers data found on the internet, Facebook used images its own users upload. Are your Facebook pictures being used to create a surveillance databased for law enforcement?

• Facebook agreed to pay $550 million last year to settle a class-action lawsuit over alleged violations of Illinois’ biometric privacy law. Does your home state have biometric privacy laws that protect the public? Should legislators pass such laws?

Millions of faces are scanned without approval. Ask of local attorneys, lawmakers and public interest groups if your town or state needs to adopt rules.

– Police will say they don’t use facial recognition, but is that true?

LAPD used facial recognition software nearly 30,000 time since 2009 even while denying that it used the tech at all. Here, LAPD didn’t have its own face-scanning platform but used the face-recognition software provided through the Los Angeles County Regional Identification System.

Conversely, some cities are passing expansive city bans on facial recognition tech.

Next: Expert Sources to Interview