Rebind | Read Like Never Before With Experts, AI, & Original Content

Experience the next chapter in reading with Rebind: the first AI-reading platform. Embark on expert-guided journeys through timeless classics.

From a NYTimes story I learned about John Kaag’s new initiative Rebind | Read Like Never Before With Experts, AI, & Original Content. The philosophers Kaag and Clancy Martin have teamed up with an investor to start a company that create AI enhanced “rebindings” of classics. They work with out of copyright book and then pay someone to interpret or comment on the book. The commentary is then used to train an AI with whom you can dialogue as you go through the book. The end result (which I am on the waitlist to try) will be a reading experience enhanced by interpretative videos and chances to interact. It answers Plato’s old critique of text that you can ask questions of it. Now you can.

This reminds me of an experiment by Schwitzgebel, Strasser, and Crosby who created a Daniel Dennett chatbot. Here you can see SChwitzgebel’s reflections on the project.

This project raised ethical issues like whether it was ethical to simulate a living person. In this case they asked for Dennett’s permission and didn’t give people direct access to the chatbot. With the announcements about Apple Intelligence it looks like Apple may provide an AI that is part of the system that will have access to your combined files so as to help with search and to help you talk with yourself. Internal dialogue, of course, is the paradigmatic manifestation of consciousness. Could one import one or two thinkers to have a multi-party dialogue about ones thinking over time … “What do you think Plato; should I write another paper about ethics and technology?”

Column: AI investors say they’ll go broke if they have to pay for copyrighted works. Don’t believe it

AI investors say their work is so important that they should be able to trample copyright law on their pathway to riches. Here’s why you shouldn’t believe them.

Michael Hiltzik has a nice colum about how  AI investors say they’ll go broke if they have to pay for copyrighted works. Don’t believe it. He quotes the venture capital firm investing a lot in AI, Adreessen Horowitz as saying,

The only way AI can fulfill its tremendous potential is if the individuals and businesses currently working to develop these technologies are free to do so lawfully and nimbly.

This is like saying that the businesses of the mafia could fulfill their potential if they were allowed to do so lawfully and nimbly. It also assumes there is tremendous potential, and no pernicious side effects to AI. Do we really know there is positive potential and that it is tremendous?

Hiltzik is quite good on the issue of training on copyrighted material, something playing out as we speak. I suspect that if the courts allow the free use of large content platforms for model training that we will then find these collections of content being sequestered behind license walls that prevent their scraping.

How Deepfake Videos Are Used to Spread Disinformation – The New York Times

For the first time, A.I.-generated personas, often used for corporate trainings, were detected in a state-aligned information campaign — opening a new chapter in online manipulation.

The New York Times has a story about how How Deepfake Videos Are Used to Spread Disinformation. The videos are actually from a service Synthesia which allows you to generate videos of talking heads from transcripts that you prepare. They have different professionally acted avatars and their technology will then generate the video of your text being presented. This is supposed to be used for quickly generating training videos (without paying actors), but someone used it for disinformation.

Freedom Online Coalition joint statement on artificial intelligence

The Freedom Online Coalition (FOC) has issued a joint statement on artificial intelligence (AI) and human rights.  While the FOC acknowledges that AI systems offer unprecedented opportunities for human development and innovation, the Coalition expresses concern over the documented and ongoing use of AI systems towards repressive and authoritarian purposes, including through facial recognition technology […]

The Freedom Online Coalition is a coalition of countries including Canada that “work closely together to coordinate their diplomatic efforts and engage with civil society and the private sector to support Internet freedom – free expression, association, assembly, and privacy online – worldwide.” It was founded in 2011 at the initiative of the Dutch.

FOC has just released Joint Statement on Artificial Intelligence and Human Rights that calls for “transparency, traceability and accountability” in the design and deployment of AI systems. They also reaffirm that “states must abide by their obligations under international human rights law to ensure that human rights are fully respected and protected.” The statement ends with a series of recommendations or “Calls to action”.

What is important about this statement is the role of the state recommended. This is not a set of vapid principles that developers should voluntarily adhere to. It calls for appropriate legislation.

States should consider how domestic legislation, regulation and policies can identify, prevent, and mitigate risks to human rights posed by the design, development and use of AI systems, and take action where appropriate. These may include national AI and data strategies, human rights codes, privacy laws, data protection measures, responsible business practices, and other measures that may protect the interests of persons or groups facing multiple and intersecting forms of discrimination.

I note that yesterday the Liberals introduced a Digital Charter Implementation Act that could significantly change the regulations around data privacy. More on that as I read about it.

Thanks to Florence for pointing this FOC statement out to me.

CEO of exam monitoring software Proctorio apologises for posting student’s chat logs on Reddit

Australian students who have raised privacy concerns describe the incident involving a Canadian student as ‘freakishly disrespectful’

The Guardian has a story about CEO of exam monitoring software Proctorio apologises for posting student’s chat logs on Reddit. Proctorio provides software for monitoring (proctoring) students on their own laptop while they take exams. It uses the video camera and watches the keyboard to presumably watch whether the student tries to cheat on a timed exam. Apparently a UBC student claimed that he couldn’t get help in a timely fashion from Proctorio when he was using it (presumably with a timer going for the exam.) This led to Australian students criticizing the use of Proctorio which led to the CEO arguing that the UBC student had lied and providing a partial transcript to show that the student was answered in a timely fashion. That the CEO would post a partial transcript shows that:

  1. staff at Proctorio do have access to the logs and transcripts of student behaviour, and
  2. that they don’t have the privacy protection protocols in place to prevent the private information from being leaked.

I can’t help feeling that there is a pattern here since we also see senior politicians sometimes leaking data about citizens who criticize them. The privacy protocols may be in place, but they aren’t observed or can’t be enforced against the senior staff (who are the ones that presumably need to do the enforcing.) You also sense that the senior person feels that the critic abrogated their right to privacy by lying or misrepresenting something in their criticism.

This raises the question of whether someone who misuses or lies about a service deserves the ongoing protection of the service. Of course, we want to say that they should, but nations like the UK have stripped citizens like Shamina Begum of citizenship and thus their rights because they behaved traitorously, joining ISIS. Countries have murdered their own citizens that became terrorists without a trial. Clearly we feel that in some cases one can unilaterally remove someones rights, including the right to life, because of their behaviour.