Your 90-second guide to the day in tech

- March 17, 2021 3 MIN READ
The eyes have it: an image from the recent deepfake Tom Cruise clip

Welcome to Wednesday all. Here’s some news that caught our eye.

Don’t forget to tune in for the Startup Daily show on Ausbiz.com.au  every weekday, 2-2.45pm. Watch online, download the ausbiz app or via 7Plus.


Deepfake test

University of Buffalo researchers think they’ve found a way to tell in a video clip is a “deepfake” (think: those recent Tom Cruise fakes).

The Next Web found the paper the published on the project.

“Sophisticated generative adversary network (GAN) models are now able to synthesize highly realistic human faces that are difficult to discern from real ones visually. In this work, we show that GAN synthesized faces can be exposed with the inconsistent corneal specular highlights between two eyes. The inconsistency is caused by the lack of physical/physiological constraints in the GAN models,” the abstract says.

Read more here.


California bans dark arts

California has taken aim of those BS tricks companies use – dubbed “dark patterns” to trick you into giving away data privacy or slow your ability unsubscribe.

State attorney-general Xavier Becerra announced strengthened privacy laws that ban dark patterns

“These protections ensure that consumers will not be confused or misled when seeking to exercise their data privacy rights. The regulations include an eye-catching Privacy Options icon that guides consumers to where they can opt-out of the sale of their personal information,” he said

CCPA grants California consumers the right to know, the right to delete, and the right to opt-out of the sale of the personal information collected by businesses. It also affords additional protections for minors. The initial regulations came into effect in August 2020.

The newly-approved regulations ban so-called “dark patterns” that delay or obscure the process for opting out of the sale of personal information, prohibiting companies from burdening consumers with confusing language or unnecessary steps such as forcing them to click through multiple screens or listen to reasons why they shouldn’t opt out.


Tesla ninjas

When we heard about this yesterday, we didn’t mention it because it sounded like something written by The Betoota Advocate, but Tesla’s billionaire dude of doge has changed his job title to “Technoking of Tesla”, while CFO Zach Kirkhorn will now officially – yes, they put this in corporate filings – as the company’s “Master of Coin”.

Given Musk’s governance increasingly looks like something from a Kevin Smith movie, we’re just going to call the duo Jay & Silent Bob.


VC US politics run

Billionaire part-time Kiwi and startup investor Peter Thiel is backing a former Mithril Capital (his VC firm) principal JD Vance, author of Hillbilly Elegy (there’s a film of it on Netflix) to run as a Republican senate candidate in Ohio in 2022.

It’s not the first time the outspokenly conservative Thiel has backed GOP candidates (and Trump), but the reported $10 million he’s giving Vance is a figure most startups would dream of. Vox has more on the “Silicon Valley iconclast” and his plans here.

NSW AI advice

The NSW government has appointed 11 AI experts as the inaugural members of the state’s Artificial Intelligence Advisory Committee to provide ongoing strategic advice on the use of AI in government services.

NSW Chief Data Scientist, Dr Ian Oppermann, will chair the committee. The other members are: Theresa Anderson, Data & AI Ethicist, Research fellow at the School of Illinois; Fang Chen, Executive Director Data Science/Distinguished Professor at UTS; Lee Hickin, National Technology Officer at Microsoft Australia; Aurelie Jacquet, Chief Legal and Data Ethics Officer at Innovations Accelerated; Peter Leonard, Principal at Data Synergies, Professor of Practice at UNSW Business School; Maria Milosavljevic, Inaugural Chief Data Officer for Services Australia; Edward Santow, Human Rights Commissioner; Bill Simpson Young, co-founder and CEO of Gradient Institute; Neil Soderlund, CEO of Quantium Health & Government; and Martin Stewart-Weeks, Principal, Public Purpose Pty Ltd.

Current uses of AI in NSW Government include:

  • NSW Dept of Planning, Industry & Environment use drones and AI to identify and protect threatened plants and animals.
  • NSW Health’s use of algorithms from de-identified medical records, to assist with the early detection and treatment of sepsis in emergency department waiting rooms.
  • Transport for NSW’s use of AI and machine learning to anticipate required maintenance and proactively schedule downtime for maintenance.

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