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Editor’s note: This is a translation of a story about how the crime-tracking app Citizen has been giving away free subscriptions to elderly Asians in the Bay Area. Find the English language version here.

本文是与普利策中心的人工智能问责网络合作撰写的。

当外面天黑的时候,约瑟芬·赵(Josephine Zhao)哪怕只是走几个街区就能回到旧金山的家,有时也会多叫一双“眼睛”——字面意义的眼睛。

赵打开手机上的Citizen App,通过一个名为“实时监控”的功能,与该平台的一个客服人员建立联系。而该平台也可以通过网络追踪到赵的GPS位置,客服只要点击另一个按钮,就可以得到打开她手机摄像头的授权。这样该平台就可以“看到我所看到的东西”,赵说。通常来说,她甚至不会和客服人员进行对话,但她知道“这时有人和我一起走”,这会让赵感到安心一些。

这是赵最近采取的最新安全措施之一:她也避免乘坐公共交通工具,以及在城市里走路的时候,会在她的钥匙链上挂着一个长长的尖头装置。这个装置是一个浅粉色的塑料制品,必要的时候会变成一个武器。

但在她看来,Citizen这样一个允许用户报告和跟踪附近犯罪通知的超级本地应用程序是她最好的保护手段之一,这种数据驱动的DIY安全措施能够保护一个长期被忽视的群体。

“我们在教育、公共安全、住房、交通方面上的需求,都没有得到满足和关切。就好像我们不重要一样。”赵说,她目前也是多家教育非政府组织的代课教师和社区联络员,“我们的需求没有得到尊重,我们的需求没有得到满足,人们到处都轻视我们。”

“我真的相信Citizen是一个维持社会正义和种族正义的工具。”

“我们必须实施一些行动来保护我们的社群,”她补充道。“Citizen是最完美的工具。”

在当地持续发生基于种族的攻击、以及一系列针对亚裔居民的大规模枪击事件之后,许多亚裔和太平洋岛民(AAPI,Asian-American and Pacific Islander)社群的居民们都告诉《麻省理工科技评论》他们欢迎这款应用程序,认为它可以解决反亚仇恨带给他们的焦虑。

对于这些受到严重创伤的人们来说,Citizen成为了让他们获得安心的一种方式。

Citizen的转型

对于这款应用来说,这种积极的反响似乎有些奇怪。毕竟因放大了人们对犯罪的幻想,并帮助白人居民实行种族门禁,它长期以来一直都在遭受着批评的声音。Citizen最初被命名为“治安警员”,因为它有一段曲折的历史:苹果应用商店在该款应用2016年推出后的一周内就将其下架,因为它违反了苹果的《开发者审查指南》,该指南规定应用程序不得鼓励身体伤害。2021年,该公司的首席执行官要求他的员工悬赏3万美元,寻找一名他误认为在洛杉矶纵火的人,这在当时成为了头条新闻。而且该款应用的客户也经常因发表种族主义言论而受到批评。

正是在这种情况下,这款应用现在正在积极地争取像赵这样的用户。从2022年9月开始,通过社区团体如奥克兰华埠商会(Oakland Chinatown Chamber of Commerce)或者旧金山美国华商总会(Chinese American Association of Commerce in San Francisco)组织的活动,Citizen一直在湾区招募中国裔和其他亚裔居民,其中包括许多老年人,他们加入服务可以免费获得价值240美元的一年高级订阅服务。(虽然该应用程序的免费版本会向用户发送值得注意的事件警报,但要是想获得与Citizen雇员实时连线监控服务,则需要更高级的版本)。目前,赵直接与Citizen合作,帮助将其应用程序界面翻译成中文,并帮助其在她的人际圈中进行宣传。

该应用程序的最终目标,是想从该地区的AAPI社群招募2万名新用户,这可以带来相当于价值约500万美元的一年付费订阅。Citizen组织的产品负责人达雷尔·斯通(Darrell Stone)表示,目前已经有700人注册了他们的应用程序。

旧金山湾区的项目也是对应用程序更广泛改造的测试,它成功地吸引一些可能经常得不到警察保护的弱势群体,从亚特兰大的黑人跨性别社群到芝加哥地区的帮派暴力受害者。“我真的相信Citizen是一个维持社会正义和种族正义的工具,”特雷弗·钱德勒(Trevor Chandler)说,他在去年担任Citizen组织的政府事务和公共政策主管时,领导了该应用程序在旧金山湾区的试点项目。

但是,一些与湾区亚裔社群合作的倡导者,以及专注于弱势人群中的不实信息研究领域的专家,却怀疑这种快速危险预警技术是否真正解决了核心问题,即它是否真的能让人们更安全,而不仅仅是让他们感觉更安全一点。除此之外,他们还怀疑Citizen应用程序是否有时会让事情变得更糟,因为它可能会放大对这个社群的偏见,特别是在全球疫情大流行给地方和全国的亚裔社群带来无尽创伤的时候。

“几乎每天你都可以在任何社交媒体上看到该款应用程序向群众征集的信息,在整个技术生态圈中被疯狂和快速地传播,在我看来这完全是不正常的,”倡导亚裔社群的社会、政治和经济福祉的非营利组织OCA的公共事务副总裁肯德尔·小佐井(Kendall Kosai)说。

他说,他在自己的手机上安装了Citizen,并对一些用户针对某些事件提交的偏见评论而感到吃惊。“这对我们社群居民的心理到底有什么样的影响呢?”他提问道,“很明显,这一切可能很快就会失控。”

获得“正确的信息”

“我很高兴能使用它,”49岁的爱丽丝·金(Alice Kim)说,她和丈夫在旧金山北部的里士满区经营着一家名为Joe’s Ice Cream的冰淇淋店,该区域的大约三分之一人口是亚裔,金表示最近会看到各种破坏事件和汽车盗窃案件的增加。

和许多其他亚裔美国人一样,金氏夫妇觉得,对他们安全的担忧在很长一段时间里都被置若罔闻,基本上被当地政客忽视了。“感觉他们生活在另一个世界,”爱丽丝的丈夫肖恩·金(Sean Kim)说。

在2021年的几个月里,他们的商店发生了三次企图闯入事件,当爱丽丝说她要求人们不要使用卫生间时,人们甚至几次向她扔垃圾,或者开始争吵。

“每天早上我来上班的时候都会有点焦虑,我的商店有没有被盗窃,会不会又看到一扇破损的窗户,”爱丽丝告诉我,“尤其在疫情期间,我感觉非常紧张和不安全。”

2022年秋天,爱丽丝让肖恩在她的手机上安装了Citizen应用程序,他之前一直向爱丽丝说明该款应用程序的各种好处。在该应用程序开始向AAPI社群宣传前,肖恩就一直在使用Citizen应用程序,并且当他的朋友赵给他们一个免费试用的高级版本时,他果断地升级了该款应用程序。

肖恩认为Citizen比其它本地信息应用程序如NextDoor更可靠,因为他感觉到Citizen所提供的消息似乎是得到了验证。(除了依赖各种公共数据来源的紧急情况信息外,Citizen员工表示,他们还会在发布犯罪信息之前对用户报告的犯罪信息进行审查。)

“我们在尝试要求人们仔细检查微信群中所转发的信息,”因为“这些信息有时会造成其他人恐慌。”

“我认为越来越多的人使用Citizen,是因为很多人来核实这些信息。”肖恩继续解释说, “所以至少我知道,哦,那不是一声枪响。如果没有这个应用程序,我听到了一声枪响的时候,我完全不知道发生了什么事。我觉得这是一个有效的工具。我知道正确的信息,这让我感觉很安全。”

对爱丽丝来说,能够通过Citizen的高级功能与客服建立联系,可以解决一些可能没有达到真正犯罪门槛、但却让她感觉很不安全问题的一种方式。在应用程序的地图上,红点表示严重事件的报告,比如有人被车撞了或被武器袭击了;黄点表示较温和的一些预警信息,比如报告有武装人员或检测到气体气味,灰点表示值得注意但没有威胁性的问题,比如丢失的宠物。

和金一家人一样,湾区的许多亚裔居民们都积极接受监控,因为他们觉得长期以来都被忽视了。AAPI社群的居民已经在旧金山和奥克兰的华埠组织了各种自发的巡逻活动(尽管金氏夫妇还没有参与其中)。这对夫妇支持一项有争议的法案,该法案允许警方在业主允许的情况下,在24小时内调取私人监控录像。肖恩和爱丽丝还和其他小企业主谈到了安装私人监控设备的问题,附近奥克兰的华埠企业主们也采取了这一措施。对他们来说,Citizen只不过是另一个密切关注他们周围发生的事情的工具。

钱德勒认为,围绕Citizen的许多负面言论都忽略了这一观点,而且像金氏夫妇这样的一些核心用户,之所以依赖这一工具,是因为他们生活的家门口就面临着犯罪。

“Citizen和它的付费版本并不是一款万灵药,它不会解决世界上所有的问题,也不会阻止世界各地的犯罪的发生。它不是为了这些,”钱德勒说,“但这款应用程序成为了让边缘化社群表达他们的声音的一种非常强大的方式。”

“可惜的是,他们的助手里没有人会说中文”

“虽然Citizen的想法很棒。但因为我们社群的独特性,我确实带着一种善意的怀疑态度来看待这个问题,”OCA的小佐井说。“我一直在想的一件事是,它对最脆弱的成员的可及性到底是怎样的?”

他指出,美国的亚裔社群包括“50个不同的种族和100种不同的语言”,而且“不同的社区围绕这些公共安全问题,与当地执法部门进行着不同的互动。”

目前,Citizen只支持英语操作界面。奥克兰华埠商会的执行主任陈巧伦(Jessica Chen)说,要想真正有效,它必须使用中文或其他亚洲语言提供服务。(Citizen的斯通在一封电子邮件中表示,它正在“积极投资”自然语言处理技术,“将使我们能够实时地将应用程序翻译成不同的语言”,但他没有提供这些举措的细节或时间表。)

在实践层面上,当一个群体的成员对使用科技和获取信息有不同程度的熟悉度时,很难帮助他们采用同一种技术,当英语还不是他们的第一语言时就更难了。特别是对于英语非母语的老年人,从注册这个平台、到理解平台所发布的消息都是非常困难的。

“我有时间教他们吗?以及我是合适的教他们的人吗?”陈问。

75岁的约瑟芬·惠(Josephine Hui)已经在奥克兰生活了40年,她是一名金融教育工作者,经常通勤到华埠工作。最近,她和其他几位老人在一次由Citizen主办的活动上了解到这款应用程序,该活动由关注奥克兰安全问题的非营利组织亚裔犯罪委员会(Asian Committee on Crime)和奥克兰华埠商会联合举办。她在应用程序中看到了奥克兰警察局的公共安全介绍。

Read More

————

By: Lam Thuy Vo
Title: Citizen如何通过招募亚裔老年人来重塑自己
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2023/03/16/1069873/citizen-crime-tracking-app-bay-area-asian-community-chinese/
Published Date: Thu, 16 Mar 2023 21:58:56 +0000

Did you miss our previous article…
https://mansbrand.com/the-download-advertising-on-junk-ai-websites-and-forest-bathing-in-vr/

Tech

Balloons will surf wind currents to track wildfires

240717 microballoon embed1 scaled

This August, strange balloons will drift high above Colorado. These airy aircraft, launched from the back of a pickup truck, will be equipped with sensors that can measure heat on the ground, pinpointing new wildfire outbreaks from above.

The company behind the balloons, called Urban Sky, also plans to use them to understand conditions on the ground before fires start. Approximately 237,500 acres burn in Colorado annually, according to 2011–2020 data from the Rocky Mountain Area Coordination Center. The hope is that this new high-altitude tool might allow humans to manage—or at least understand—those blazes better.

“Wildfire is a natural part of ecosystems,” says Michael Falkowski, manager of the wildland fire programs at NASA. But climate change has proved to be an accelerant, rendering fires bigger, more intense, and more frequent. At the same time, more people are living closer to wild spaces, and the US’s history of fire suppression, which has crowded forests and left old and dead vegetation sitting around, is fanning the flames.

To deal with modern fires, Falkowski says, researchers and fire agencies have to gather data before those fires start and after they’re done smoldering, not just as they’re burning. That makes it possible to understand the risks ahead of time and try to mitigate them, track ongoing blazes, and understand the threats fires pose to communities and the environment.

Before a fire takes hold, researchers can map vegetation and estimate how wet or dry it is. During a fire, they can map where and how hot the activity is. When it’s all over, they can assess the severity of the burn and track air quality.

Pass Fire (New Mexico) 3.5m Infrared Sample from Urban Sky Microballoon.
An infrared image of the 2023 Pass Fire in New Mexico, taken by an Urban Sky balloon.COURTESY URBAN SKY

Still, the most acute phase is obviously the one when the fire is actually burning. In the heat of that moment, it can be hard to get a handle on when and where, exactly, the fire is taking hold. Satellites do some of that work, surveying large areas all at once. But the primary governmental satellites produce pictures with pixels around 300 meters across, and they can’t always get a super timely look at a given spot, since their view is limited by their orbit.

Airplanes and helicopters can map a fire’s extent in more detail, but they’re expensive to operate and dangerous to fly. They have to coordinate with other aircraft and have smaller views, being closer to the ground. They’re also a limited resource. 

Urban Sky aims to combine the advantages of satellites and aircraft by using relatively inexpensive high-altitude balloons that can fly above the fray—out of the way of airspace restrictions, other aircraft, and the fire itself. The system doesn’t put a human pilot at risk and has an infraredsensor system called HotSpot that provides a sharp, real-time picture, with pixels 3.5 meters across. “We targeted that resolution with the goal of being able to see a single burning tree,” says Jared Leidich, chief technology officer at Urban Sky. “And so that would show up essentially as one pixel—one hot pixel.” The company has some competition: Others, like Aerostar and LUX Aerobot, also make balloons that can monitor wildfires.

The Urban Sky team has launched balloons in previous tests, but in August, the technology will monitor potential fires for an actual (unspecified) customer. Sending the balloon-lofted HotSpot up will be a surprisingly simple affair, thanks to the balloon’s relatively small size: While the company makes several sizes, the original is about as big as a van at launch, inflating to the size of a small garage once it’s aloft and surrounded by lower-pressure air. The Urban Sky team uses weather software to calculate where to launch a balloon so that it will drift over the fire at the right elevation. Then the team packs one up, along with compressed helium or hydrogen gas, and drives a truck out to that location. The balloon is hooked onto a mast jutting from the vehicle, filled up with the lighter-than-air molecules,

Read More

————

By: Sarah Scoles
Title: Balloons will surf wind currents to track wildfires
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/07/19/1095125/balloons-will-surf-wind-currents-to-track-wildfires/
Published Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2024 09:00:00 +0000

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Tech

The Download: Windows’ CrowdStrike outage, and wildfire-tracking balloons

This is today’s edition of The Download our weekday newsletter that provides a daily dose of what’s going on in the world of technology.

A widespread Windows outage is affecting airlines, banks, and TV broadcasters

What’s happening? Windows PCs have crashed around the world, bringing airlines, major banks, TV broadcasters, healthcare providers and other businesses to a standstill. Airlines including United Airlines, Delta, and American Airlines have been forced to ground and delay flights, stranding passengers in airports, while UK broadcaster Sky News was temporarily pulled off air.

Banking customers in Europe, Australia and India have been unable to access their online accounts, and traders have been unable to operate as normal.

What caused it? The issue originates from a faulty update from cybersecurity provider CrowdStrike, which has knocked affected servers and PCs offline and caused Windows workstations to display ‘blue screens of death’ when users attempt to boot them. Mac and Linux hosts are not affected.

When will it be fixed?

George Kurtz, CEO of Crowdstrike, said that the company was actively working with customers impacted by the defect, found in a single content update for Windows hosts.

“This is not a security incident or cyberattack,” he said in a statement on X. “The issue has been identified, isolated and a fix has been deployed. We refer customers to the support portal for the latest updates and will continue to provide complete and continuous updates on our website.”

However, that doesn’t appear to help computers that are already affected, meaning that companies’ IT teams may have to follow a manual workaround that CrowdStrike sent to its customers earlier this morning, Reuters reports.

—Rhiannon Williams

Balloons will surf wind currents to track wildfires

This August, strange balloons will drift high above Colorado. These airy aircraft will be equipped with sensors that can measure heat on the ground, pinpointing new wildfire outbreaks from above.

The company behind the balloons, called Urban Sky, also plans to use them to understand conditions on the ground before fires start. The hope is that this new high-altitude tool might allow us to better manage—or at least understand—these worsening wildfires better. Read the full story.

—Sarah Scoles

Why we need safeguards against genetic discrimination

Tens of millions of people have shipped their DNA off to companies offering to reveal clues about their customers’ health or ancestry, or had genetic tests as part of their clinical care.

It isn’t always clear how secure this data is, or who might end up getting their hands on it—and how that information might affect people’s lives. Scientists, ethicists and legal scholars aren’t clear on the matter either. They are still getting to grips with what genetic discrimination entails—and how we can defend against it. Read the full story.

—Jessica Hamzelou

This story is from The Checkup, our weekly health and biotech newsletter. Sign up to receive it in your inbox every Thursday.

The must-reads

I’ve combed the internet to find you today’s most fun/important/scary/fascinating stories about technology.

1 The US has created satellite-jamming devices to combat Russia and China 
Its Space Force has developed 24 ground-based jammers to deploy. (Bloomberg $)

2 OpenAI is considering making a new AI chip
Which is unlikely to please its biggest chip supplier, Nvidia. (The Information $)
Demand for AI chips is still outstripping supply, according to TSMC. (The Register)
What’s next in chips. (MIT Technology Review)

3 You have the right to opt out of airport facial recognition
The next time you’re traveling, remember you don’t have to consent. (Vox)
The movement to limit face recognition tech might finally get a win. (MIT Technology Review)

4 We’re running out of data to train AI models
We’re staring down the barrel of a ‘crisis in content.’ (NYT $)
We’ve been aware of the problem for years. (MIT Technology Review)

5 Meta is betting big on smart glasses
It’s considering a stake in the luxury sunglasses firm EssilorLuxottica. (FT $)

6 Scientists have uncovered a surprising source of nitrogen
Microbes at sea work together to produce the vital nutrient. (Quanta Magazine)

7 Jailbreaking AI models could be legalized
It’s something the US government is weighing up to make models safer. (404 Media)

8 Small drugmakers are snapping up biotech companies
Normally, it’s only big pharma that can afford to wade in. (WSJ $)

9 You should check your Venmo privacy settings
The payment platform can reveal a surprising amount of data. (WP $)
J.D Vance’s public Venmo transactions are pretty revealing, for example. (Wired $)

10 This robot dog

Read More

————

By: Rhiannon Williams
Title: The Download: Windows’ CrowdStrike outage, and wildfire-tracking balloons
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/07/19/1095149/the-download-windows-crowdstrike-outage-and-wildfire-tracking-balloons/
Published Date: Fri, 19 Jul 2024 12:10:00 +0000

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Tech

Companies need to stop taking the easy way out on climate goals

This article is from The Spark, MIT Technology Review’s weekly climate newsletter. To receive it in your inbox every Wednesday, sign up here

Corporate climate claims can be confusing—and sometimes entirely unintuitive.

Tech giants Amazon and Google both recently released news about their efforts to clean up their climate impact. Both were a mixed bag, but one bit of news in particular made me prick up my ears. Google’s emissions have gone up, and the company stopped claiming to be “net zero” (we’ll dig into this term more in a moment). Sounds bad, right? But in fact, one might argue that Google’s apparent backslide might actually represent progress for climate action.

My colleague James Temple dug into this news, along with the recent Amazon announcement, for a story this week. Let’s take a sneak peek at what he found and untangle why corporate climate efforts can be so tricky to wrap your head around. 

To make sense of these recent announcements, the most important phrase to understand is “net-zero emissions.”

Companies produce greenhouse-gas emissions by making products, transporting them around, or just using electricity. Some corporate leaders may want to reduce those emissions so they can be a smaller part of the climate-change problem (or brag about their progress). Net-zero emissions refers to the point at which the emissions a company produces are canceled out by those it eliminates. But very different paths can all lead to that point.

One way to get rid of emissions is to take actions to reduce them in your operations. Imagine, for example, Amazon replacing its delivery trucks with EVs or building solar panels on warehouses.

This sort of direct action tends to be hard and expensive, and it’s probably impossible for any company to totally wipe out all its emissions right now, given that so much of our economy still relies on fossil fuels. So to reach net zero, many companies choose to disappear their emissions with math instead.

A company might buy carbon credits or renewable-energy credits, essentially paying someone to make up for its own climate impact. That might mean giving a nonprofit money to plant some trees, which suck up and store carbon, or funneling funds to developers and claiming that more renewables projects will get built as a result.

Not all credits are all bad—but often, carbon offsets and renewable-energy credits reflect big claims with little to back them up. And if companies are going after a net-zero label for their business, they may be incentivized to buy cheap credits, even if they don’t actually deliver on claims. 

As James puts it in his story, “Corporate sustainability officers often end up pursuing the quickest, cheapest ways of cleaning up a company’s pollution on paper, rather than the most reliable ways of reducing its emissions in the real world.”

This sort of issue is why I tend to be suspicious of companies that claim to have already achieved net-zero emissions or 100% renewable energy. Cleaning up emissions is hard, and if you’ve already claimed victory, I’d say the odds are good that you’re taking an easy way out.

Which brings us to Google’s news. Google has claimed that its operations have operated with net-zero emissions since 2007. Now it’s not claiming that anymore—not really because it suddenly decided to take huge steps back in how it operates, but because it’s stopped buying carbon offsets on a massive scale. Instead, it’s focusing on investing in other ways to tackle emissions.

So what’s the next step for big companies looking to have a material impact on climate action? James has us covered again: In a 2022 story, he laid out six potential ways to rethink corporate climate goals. 

Instead of buying up credits, companies can instead put that money toward investing in permanent carbon removal. Developing more reliable methods of pulling climate pollution out of the atmosphere and locking it away might be more expensive, but investing in those efforts will help the market mature and support companies that need commitments. 

Companies can also contribute money to research and development for areas that are difficult to decarbonize—think aviation, shipping, steel, and cement. Those sectors touch basically every industry, so helping them make progress could be a worthy use of dollars. 

If there’s one takeaway in this tangle of news, I’d say that we could all ask more questions and dig a little deeper into claims from big corporations. Remember, if something sounds too good to be true, it probably is.  

Now read the rest of The Spark

Related reading

Read more about Big Tech climate action, including why Amazon’s renewable-energy claims might be more complicated than they appear at first glance, in James’s latest story.

And here’s his piece on six

Read More

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By: Casey Crownhart
Title: Companies need to stop taking the easy way out on climate goals
Sourced From: www.technologyreview.com/2024/07/18/1095086/corporate-net-zero-goals/
Published Date: Thu, 18 Jul 2024 10:00:00 +0000

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