Links for 2018-11-30

  • House Democrats Sent A New Letter To Jeff Bezos About Amazon’s Facial Recognition Tool

    The House Democrats’ questions focus largely on possible embedded bias in Amazon Rekognition, including how the tool’s accuracy breaks down by race, gender, ethnicity, and age. Also of particular concern is whether Amazon will build privacy protections into its facial recognition system and how it will ensure it is not abused for secret government surveillance. [….] Meanwhile, Jeff Bezos has yet to address mounting criticism of Amazon’s Rekognition technology by Amazon employees, shareholders, and civil rights groups. In November, Amazon executives defended the company’s controversial facial recognition technology at an all-hands staff meeting after employees raised civil rights concerns about the tech’s potential misuse. “It’s hard to trust that harm and abuse can be prevented if it is only post-mortem and through the Terms of Service,” an Amazon employee who requested anonymity told BuzzFeed News at the time.

    (tags: rekognition aws privacy data-protection surveillance amazon us-politics civil-rights)

  • Google Tried to Patent My Work After a Job Interview

    I looked up the patent application and luckily, this time the patent application was still being reviewed by the patent examiner.  It had not issued! The provisional was filed August 29, 2014, months after my first interview and visit back in March 2014.  Two of the inventors listed were the same people who had interviewed me. 
    This is frankly appalling behaviour from Google — total abuse of the patent system. If Joi Ito hadn’t been around to mediate this patent probably would have issued and this researcher’s life’s work stolen from her through IP dirty tricks. (Also, patents need to die)

    (tags: patents software-patents google dirty-tricks interviewing ip mit medialab paper jie-qi)

  • Crowdfunding Backer Patented My Project

    I had thought thought all along that if we published everything openly, it wouldn’t be possible for someone else to patent stuff that’s already all over the web.  But I was wrong. Despite tons of prior art out on the web, in academic research papers and even for sale that are LED stickers, the patent examiner missed it and deemed the LED sticker patent “new” and “non-obvious.”   How could that happen?  The sad truth is that patents are approved all that time that probably shouldn’t be. […] Can’t you invalidate the patent? Unfortunately, once a patent gets issued things get much more complicated and expensive. The cheapest option would be for us to go to the USPTO with our prior art list and invalidate the patent though a process called an inter partes review (IPR).  But such a process typically costs between $300,000 and $600,000 to file due to legal fees. In fact, it’s much more than the cost of getting the patent in the first place! So for now, we’ve decided not to go down this route.
    The US patent system is broken. This is appalling

    (tags: patents led-stickers uspto prior-art invention crowdfunding)

  • PRDD – Performance-Review Driven Development

    ‘If the way to get promoted is to launch a shiny new product, then your most senior people will be the best at finding shiny new products to launch, even if that’s not the right technical decision to make.’ (from a newsy thread about Twitter’s latest messaging system switch)

    (tags: newsy messaging infrastructure twitter kafka pubsub ops architecture prdd performance-reviews)

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