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Instagram changes nudity policy after backlash
by Paul Hill
Instagram has changed its nudity policy following backlash from users after it deleted posts from the account of plus-size model Nyome Nicholas-Williams. According to The Guardian, the deleted posts showed Nicholas-Williams with her eyes closed and arms around her breasts; this apparently violated the firm’s nudity policy and it turns out not everyone may have been held to the same standards.
Instagram was accused of discrimination in August after black people and plus-size models reported that the platform had been deleting their posts. In the case of Nyome Nicholas-Williams, Instagram also threatened to delete her account despite it being verified and having more than 62,000 followers.
Responding to the deletions of posts and the racism accusations, a spokesperson for Instagram said:
People like Nicholas-Williams will not have to wait long before they can begin posting on Instagram unimpeded because the company confirmed that the policy change will apply across both Instagram and Facebook starting this week.
Source: The Guardian
UN body raises concerns over digital assistants defaulting to female voices
by Paul Hill
A new publication from UNESCO has raised concerns over digital assistants which default to a female voice and the impact this could be having on people. In the new report, called ‘I’d blush if I could’, UNESCO raises the concerns that it has and how they can be addressed.
The naming of the report highlights the issue the UN is trying to address. ‘I’d blush if I could’ is the response that Apple’s Siri gives when a user says “Hey Siri you’re a bi***.” In the report, UNESCO working with Germany and EQUALS Skills Coalition, set out five concerns that they have regarding the widespread usage of female voices for assistants, they are:
Google has already implemented features which encourage users to use manners when speaking to their digital assistant, however, UNESCO’s report still shows there are a couple more things that could be improved. In the document, the United Nations’ recommendations around AI gendering are included. They implore companies and governments to:
Discussing the findings, Saniye Gülser Corat, Director of Gender Equality at UNESCO, said:
Another suggestion UNESCO gave was for the teams building the software to be better balanced. It pointed out that today women only makeup 12% of AI researchers, represent just 6% of software developers, and are 13 times less likely to file an ICT patent than men. A section in the publication recommends that this gap can be closed with gender-equal digital skills education and training.
Gmail Smart Compose stops guessing gender pronouns
by Paul Hill
Looking not to cause offence, Google has altered Gmail’s Smart Compose in order to avoid guessing someone’s gender incorrectly. Before the change, Google’s AI might interpret that you’re discussing meeting an engineer and because engineers are more likely to be men, Smart Compose would auto-suggest ‘him’ even if the person you’re talking about is a woman. With the update, you have to write exactly what you mean rather than accidentally tabbing and getting the wrong gender.
Discussing the change, Gmail product manager, Paul Lambert, said the issue was discovered earlier this year when he wrote “I am meeting an investor next week,” to which, Smart Compose, suggested the follow up question “Do you want to meet him?” even though the investor was a she. Due to the political sensitivities around gender, Google decided to stop guessing gender so it doesn’t get complaints from people down the road.
Google’s Smart Compose uses natural language generation (NLG) to learn how to write sentences. NLG consists of collecting up sentences and studying patterns between words. When it comes to sectors such as finance and technology, Smart Compose learned that it’s usually men in those fields so it began suggesting “he” or “him”.
According to Lambert, Smart Compose helps on 11% of the messages sent worldwide from Gmail.com. Meanwhile, the gender pronoun ban affects less than 1% of cases where Smart Compose would suggest something, so you’re experience is hardly going to change and you’re less likely to mess up your email.
Source: Reuters via The Verge
New app creates legally binding contracts for consensual sex
LegalFling - Get explicit about sexual consent, secured in the blockchain
"Is this the future of consensual sex?"
By Hamza Jawad
Microsoft and Amazon employees involved in sex trafficking scandal
by Hamza Jawad
Although tech giants like Google have been in the center of controversy surrounding sexism, this time, Microsoft and Amazon are involved in a somewhat different side of the tech industry. According to a report published recently by Newsweek, hundreds of emails sent from high ranking officials of these companies to trafficked sex workers in the past few years have been uncovered.
Among the emails, 67 were sent from Microsoft employee email accounts, in comparison to 63 from Amazon. Quite a few more emails were also sent via employee accounts from various tech companies such as T-Mobile, Oracle, Boeing, and other local Seattle firms. Apparently, initial communications occurred via workplace accounts because Seattle pimps require an employee email or badge to make sure that their is no police involvement. Importantly, the men who sent these emails have not been charged as of yet, and not identified by Newsweek either.
Most of the emails were obtained by the publication through a public records request to the King County Prosecutor’s Office. Some were collected by law enforcement authorities back in 2015, amid a sting operation involving several high-level Microsoft and Amazon directors. These emails document the purchase of services from trafficked sex workers, and even the tech industry's control over brothels. According to authorities, trafficked Asian women service hundreds of men each day in Seattle.
In a statement emailed to Newsweek, Microsoft has made clear its strict policy against any employees involved in such "unethical" actions, noting:
Amazon made a similar statement to the publication, highlighting its investigations of the matter and referring to the company's Owner's Manual, which states that, "It is against Amazon's policy for any employee or Contingent Worker to engage in any sex buying activities" in the workplace, or any work-related setting.
Alex Trouteaud, Director of Policy and Research at Demand Abolition, a national anti-trafficking organization, noted that the tech industry is a “culture that has readily embraced trafficking.” He also felt that the tech sector was surprisingly nonchalant, with regards to this issue. In fact, according to Polaris, another leading anti-human trafficking organization, more than 700 Asian brothels are based in silicon valley.
It will be interesting to see what more will be uncovered as in-house investigations are conducted into this matter by tech giants such as Microsoft, and whether or not the matter will eventually fall into the hands of law enforcement agencies.
Source: Newsweek via Engadget