How Realistic Fake Video Threatens Democracies | Defense One

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Disinformation and distrust online are set to take a turn for the worse.

Rapid advances in deep-learning algorithms to synthesize video and audio content have made possible the production of “deep fakes”—highly realistic and difficult-to-detect depictions of real people doing or saying things they never said or did.

As this technology spreads, the ability to produce bogus yet credible video and audio content will come within the reach of an ever-larger array of governments, nonstate actors, and individuals. As a result, the ability to advance lies using hyperrealistic, fake evidence is poised for a great leap forward.

The array of potential harms that deep fakes could entail is stunning.

Source: How Realistic Fake Video Threatens Democracies – Defense One

Algorithmic bias detection and mitigation: Best practices and policies to reduce consumer harms

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The private and public sectors are increasingly turning to artificial intelligence (AI) systems and machine learning algorithms to automate simple and complex decision-making processes.

The mass-scale digitization of data and the emerging technologies that use them are disrupting most economic sectors, including transportation, retail, advertising, and energy, and other areas. AI is also having an impact on democracy and governance as computerized systems are being deployed to improve accuracy and drive objectivity in government functions.

The availability of massive data sets has made it easy to derive new insights through computers.

As a result, algorithms, which are a set of step-by-step instructions that computers follow to perform a task, have become more sophisticated and pervasive tools for automated decision-making.

While algorithms are used in many contexts, we focus on computer models that make inferences from data about people, including their identities, their demographic attributes, their preferences, and their likely future behaviors, as well as the objects related to them.

Source: Algorithmic bias detection and mitigation: Best practices and policies to reduce consumer harms

Europe votes: France’s atomized politics and vaporized influence


In France, the national results of this weekend’s European Parliament elections will reflect the state of French politics: an utterly atomized electorate made of inconsequential particles repulsive to each other.

Over the past two decades, the divisions in French politics have deepened tremendously. Notwithstanding the second round of the 2017 presidential election—which gave a false sense of majority consensus in favor of Emmanuel Macron—the French have been displeased with most of their national parties and have scattered their votes accordingly, systematically punishing those in power without propping up a strong opposition.

Source: Europe votes: France’s atomized politics and vaporized influence

Uber’s IPO fallout underscores the need for a new labor model


Markets have battered Uber and Lyft stock since their respective IPOs, with Uber down over 5% and Lyft down over 20% since going public.

Part of that may well have to do with the (many) shaky aspects of their business model, which Uber’s own S-1 filing with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission details over nearly 50 pages. Contained within is specific mention of the firm’s “contractor” model.

Both companies rightly acknowledge that the contractor model, as well as potential regulatory changes to it, could be a concern for the longevity of their business.

All of which again raises the question of whether the contractor model—a core element of the gig economy in U.S. cities—is really such a viable way forward.

Source: Uber’s IPO fallout underscores the need for a new labor model

DISA awards $75 million sole-source deal for background check IT | FCW

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The Defense Information Systems Agency and Defense Security Service awarded a sole-source $75 million contract to Perspecta to continue updating the National Background Investigations System using “other transaction authority” to get around competitive bidding requirements.

The two-year deal, which was signed May 14, is part of an ongoing effort to modernize the IT system that handles the nation’s clearance requests and investigation.

Source: DISA awards $75 million sole-source deal for background check IT — FCW

China denounces U.S. ‘rumors’ and ‘lies’ about Huawei ties to Beijing | Reuters

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China on Friday denounced U.S. Secretary of State Mike Pompeo for fabricating rumors after he said the chief executive of China’s Huawei Technologies Co Ltd was lying about his company’s ties to the Beijing government.

“Recently, some U.S. politicians have continually fabricated rumors about Huawei but have never produced the clear evidence that countries have requested,” Chinese Foreign Ministry spokesman Lu Kang said, when asked about Pompeo’s remarks.

Source: China denounces U.S. ‘rumors’ and ‘lies’ about Huawei ties to Beijing – Reuters

North Korea blames U.S. for failed summit, urges ‘new calculation’ | Reuters


North Korea said on Friday an “arbitrary and dishonest” U.S. position had resulted in the failure to reach a deal during a second North Korea-U.S. summit, warning the nuclear issue would never be resolved without a new approach.

A spokesman for North Korea’s foreign ministry accused the United States of trying to shift the blame for the breakdown of the summit between North Korean leader Kim Jong Un and U.S. President Donald Trump in February by raising a “completely irrelevant issue”. He did not elaborate.

Source: North Korea blames U.S. for failed summit, urges ‘new calculation’ – Reuters

Why U.S.-Iran tensions could quickly escalate into a crisis | Reuters


Three years ago, when Iran’s military captured 10 U.S. sailors after they mistakenly strayed into Iranian waters, U.S. Secretary of State John Kerry and Iranian Foreign Minister Mohammad Javad Zarif jumped on the phone in minutes and worked out the sailors’ release in hours.

Could a similar crisis be so quickly resolved today?

“No,” Zarif said in a recent interview with Reuters. “How could it be averted?”

Zarif and the current Secretary of State, Mike Pompeo, have never spoken directly, according to Iran’s mission at the United Nations. They instead tend to communicate through name-calling on Twitter or through the media.

“Pompeo makes sure that every time he talks about Iran, he insults me,” Zarif said. “Why should I even answer his phone call?”

Source: Why U.S.-Iran tensions could quickly escalate into a crisis – Reuters

The UK after May: no-deal, new deal, socialism – or no Brexit? | Reuters

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The end of Theresa May’s premiership will usher in an even more turbulent phase of Britain’s exit from the European Union as any new leader is likely to seek to strike a tougher divorce deal, and there could be an election within months.

Ultimately, the United Kingdom will either leave with a transition deal of some kind to smooth its way out, leave abruptly without a deal, or not leave at all. Another delay is likely.

Source: The UK after May: no-deal, new deal, socialism – or no Brexit? – Reuters

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How the Return of Iranian-Backed Militias From Syria Complicates U.S. Strategy


In the high-stakes game between Tehran and Washington, it is often hard to tell who is really bluffing.

This week, President Donald Trump threatened that a war would be “the official end of Iran,” responding in part to reports that Qassem Soleimani, the head of the Islamic Revolutionary Guard Corps’ elite Quds Force, had urged leaders of Iranian-backed militias across the Middle East to “prepare for proxy war.”

For those counting cards, however, Iran may already have tipped its hand.

The recent return to Iran of a wave of fighters from Liwa Fatemiyoun, an Iranian-backed militia made up of ethnic Afghan Hazaras that has been fighting in Syria since the civil war’s early days, suggests Tehran may be anticipating a different kind of proxy war altogether.

Source: How the Return of Iranian-Backed Militias From Syria Complicates U.S. Strategy