Is Big Tech using ‘dark patterns’ to manipulate users?- Issue 205- CogX Data Science, AI and Machine Learning Briefing

AI Weekly Roundup

Is the tech industry using some of its most powerful tools to the detriment of its own users?

That’s the question probed by the FT, highlighting “dark patterns.” These are the clever tricks used on websites and in smartphone apps to nudge users into taking particular actions — leading people to buy more than they want on e-commerce sites, or encouraging them to spend more time on a social media site. Today machine learning is really perfecting dark patterns to maximum effect.

“Social media content selection algorithms, particularly those based on reinforcement learning, are guaranteed to manipulate people,” says Stuart Russell, a professor of AI at the University of California, Berkeley. But can we ever really know when we are being nudged towards a better outcome as opposed to being deceived?




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From Facebook’s news feed to online advertisement targeting, so-called “dark patterns” that tech companies use can manipulate users’ responses, and it seems that a small number of algorithms now govern the digital lives of billions of us.

Read more (Financial Times)


Explainable AI (XAI) is often offered as the answer to the black box problem. However, after years of research and application, the XAI field has generally struggled to realize the goals of understandable, trustworthy, and controllable AI in practice.

Read more (Brookings)

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The Verge took Apple AirTags out for a spin, playing a game of hide-and-seek, to see if an AirTag is really good enough to reveal location when it’s lost. The video shows how this $29 location tracker works, how it protects your privacy, and whether or not it can do anything for Android users.

Read more (The Verge)


AI platform provider ASAPP has raised $120 million in Series C financing, coming to a final vaulation of $1.6Bn. This major development is a testament to how hi-tech AI software is driving productivity and preserving American talent in an industry that suffers from 40% annual turnover rates.

Read more (Reuters)


Scientists have combined artificial intelligence (AI) algorithms with two cutting-edge microscopy techniques- an advance that shortens the time for image processing from days to mere seconds, while ensuring that the resulting images are crisp and accurate.

Read more (Technology Networks)

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AI is a truly global issue impacting all areas of society—from social influencers to philosophers, technologists to psychologists and sociologists, everyday consumers to industrialists—and everyone must help in defining the acceptable role of AI.

Read more (E&T Technology)


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