Federal Study Finds Face-Scanning Tech Stumped by Race, Gender

Federal Study Finds Face-Scanning Tech Stumped by Race, Gender

A study by a U.S. agency has found that facial recognition technology often performs unevenly based on a person’s race, gender or age.

But the nuanced report published Thursday is unlikely to allay the concerns of critics who worry about bias in face-scanning applications that are increasingly being adopted by law enforcement, airports and a variety of businesses.

The National Institute of Standards and Technology has been studying facial recognition for nearly two decades, but this is the first time it has investigated demographic differences in how face-scanning algorithms are able to identify people.

The study was prompted in part by growing concern among lawmakers and privacy advocates that biased results in commercial face recognition software could entrench racial discrimination in the criminal justice system and elsewhere.

The report cautions against “incomplete” previous research alleging biased facial recognition that has alarmed the public, but also confirms similar trends showing higher error rates for women, the youngest and oldest people, and for certain racial groups depending on which image database or software is being used.

“There is a wide range of performance and there’s certainly work to be done,” said Craig Watson, manager of NIST’s research group that studies biometric technology. “The main message is don’t try to generalize the results across all the technology. Know your use case, the algorithm that’s being used.”

NIST, which is a part of the Commerce Department, tested the algorithms of 99 mostly commercial software providers that voluntarily submitted their technology for review. It ran those algorithms on millions of FBI mugshots, visa application photos and other government-held portrait images such as those taken at border crossings.

Microsoft was among the major tech companies that participated in the research, along with dozens of lesser-known video surveillance providers and numerous China-based companies such as SenseTime, Hikvision and Tencent. Amazon, which markets face-scanning software to U.S. police agencies, did not participate.

Watson said that’s because Amazon’s cloud-based software doesn’t work with NIST’s testing procedures, though the agency is in talks with the company about how to test its algorithms in the future.

The agency’s report credits two widely-cited studies of facial recognition bias by Massachusetts Institute of Technology researchers for serving as a “cautionary tale” about uneven results across race and gender boundaries, though it also suggests they sowed public confusion in the way they sought to measure performance.

Joy Buolamwini, who led those studies and has urged a halt to the technology’s proliferation, said in an email Thursday that NIST’s study is “a sobering reminder that facial recognition technology has consequential technical limitations.”

“While some biometric researchers and vendors have attempted to claim algorithmic bias is not an issue or has been overcome, this study provides a comprehensive rebuttal,” she wrote.

She was echoed by the American Civil Liberties Union, which in a statement Thursday said that government agencies like the FBI and U.S. Customs and Border Protection should take heed of the report and halt their deployment of face-scanning software.

“Even government scientists are now confirming that this surveillance technology is flawed and biased,” said ACLU policy analyst Jay Stanley.

Published at Thu, 19 Dec 2019 19:21:34 +0000

The REAL Problem With Ben Simmons In The NBA (Ft. 3 Point Shots & a Tall 76ers Point Guard)

The REAL Problem With Ben Simmons In The NBA (Ft. 3 Point Shots & a Tall 76ers Point Guard)

Ben Simmons has so much NBA potential, but is playing at the same level as his rookie season. So what’s the problem with Ben Simmons? #NBA #Simmons #Jumpshots
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Ben Simmons made his second career 3. Every time he makes a three, it’s actually like the memes. Simmons somehow is averaging a career low in points at 14.8, a career high in assists by 0.3 at 8.5 assists and a career low in rebounds at 6.9 rebounds. Now that this is his third year in the league, you would think that Simmons would be improving, but he seems like the same player if not a little worse than his rookie season, so I wanted to look at what’s going on with Ben Simmons, because his main problem actually isn’t his jumpshot.

I think the reason why Ben Simmons not improving gets frustrating is because we all can see the potential he has. He averaged 16, 8, and 8 in his first year. Then we saw the playoffs and when he had 0 points and wondered what he would do. Brett Brown wants Simmons taking 1 three a game, but Ben Simmons is somehow taking less overall shots per game than last season when Jimmy Butler was on the 76ers. Simmons is only averaging 10.4 field goal attempts a game which is lower than the 12.2 from last year. Jimmy Butler who was averaging 13.6 shots a game in 55 games for the Sixers is gone. Now we know that Ben Simmons shoots only inside the paint.

Even as the guy handling the ball, he’s not able to create enough shots for himself. And it’s not his shooting that’s the problem. We’ve seen Giannis last season without a jumpshot get to the rim, take shots, and make them. The Bucks didn’t seem to have this issue last year even with Giannis only taking 2.8 3s a game. A lot of that has to do with the Bucks head coach Mike Budenholzer who put in a 5 out system to let Giannis have all the space to drive when he has the ball. There’s so much space for Giannis to take his steps, his long demi-god steps (ahhhhh) If there is help defense, he can make that open pass. Even when Giannis didn’t have the ball, defenders would not leave him completely open because that would give him too much free space to start running into the paint. When Simmons is given that 5 out space, he’s at his most effective. He’s able to drive to the rim and make passes with his great playmaking ability.

Ben Simmons’s only value as an off-ball player is as a cutter. Most defenses will leave Simmons open and double on the person who has the ball like Joel Embiid and Tobias Harris.It’s not the supposed star in Ben Simmons getting doubled. It’s the other players like Tobias Harris who almost became an NBA All-Star and solid role players like Korkmaz, Josh Richardson, Mike Scott who are getting superstar treatment with Ben Simmons on the floor and they aren’t always the best under this double team pressure.

The 76ers don’t run a lot of 5 out with Embiid liking to sit in the post, but even with Embiid popping out to the 3 point line, there’s something missing from Simmons. I know that he’s not as dominant Giannis, he got bullied by Giannis, but there’s more to it than that. It’s his lack of aggression that’s concerning. Ben’s usage rate has dropped from 21.5% last year to 19.6 this year which doesn’t make any sense. A lot of times Simmons will begin to drive, and then stop at the free throw line area and pass, not to an open teammate. Why? Probably best to ask Simmons himself, maybe he wants to avoid the defenders. Whatever the reason, he’s being passive. That’s why his usage rate is down, because he’s choosing not to do more. Simmons actually was averaging more touches in his rookie season than this season from 95 to 90.3.

The 76ers don’t really run a Ben Simmons-Joel Embiid pick and roll. It’s weird when you have two All-Stars that are a point guard center combo. We’re seeing LeBron and AD run pick and rolls and while Simmons is not LeBron and Embiid is not AD, Simmons playmaking, and Embiid’s presence could have a similar effect. I get that defenders would drop underneath the screen, but that would give Ben enough space to bulldoze into the paint and see if the defense helps off Embiid to then pass to him, or if the defense switches for Ben to have a 1 v 1 in the paint. As the Ball handler in a pick and roll, Simmons actually averaged 0.96 points per possession last season which was in the 80th percentile but ran less than 3 pick and rolls a game. Even a pick and pop with Al Horford and Simmons would be pretty good, but these are all options that just don’t get used as they probably should.

I hope the Cavs game was more of what we’re going to see from now on because Ben is special, don’t forget that. But what do you think? Will Ben Simmons play better than last year? How far can the 76ers go?

Lawsuit: Children in state care abused at Chicago hospital

Lawsuit: Children in state care abused at Chicago hospital

CHICAGO — Cook County’s public guardian filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against a Chicago psychiatric facility that treated children in state care, alleging troubling claims of sexual abuse and improper medication at the “hospital of horrors.”

The complaint, filed on behalf of seven children and teenagers who were formerly patients at Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, named several current and former Illinois Department of Children and Family Services officials. State officials knowingly sent children to the hospital, despite its documented problems, because it was one of the few psychiatric facilities that would accept children in its custody, the lawsuit alleged.


Children as young as 7 were subject to or witnessed sexual abuse by staff and peers, according to the lawsuit. When children reported the abuse, they were further victimized, the complaint said. One was allegedly given a powerful sedative when it wasn’t necessary.

‘œInstead of being placed in a safe environment where they could focus on their treatment, each plaintiff found himself or herself in a hospital of horrors where they were subjected to sexual, physical and emotional abuse and otherwise not properly supervised or monitored,’� the lawsuit said.

Staff also attempted to conceal evidence or thwart investigations by destroying video tapes and fabricating paperwork, the lawsuit alleges.

The complaint seeks unspecified monetary damages.

One role of Cook County Public Guardian Charles Golbert, an attorney appointed by the county’s chief judge, includes representing neglected children in legal proceedings.


‘œWhen youth enter the DCFS system, they frequently have already experienced severe trauma and are among our area’s most vulnerable residents,’� Golbert said in a statement. ‘œBut rather than providing these young children the focused care they deserved, DCFS sent them to Chicago Lakeshore Hospital, knowing they would not be safe.”

The state last year stopped admitting children to the troubled hospital, which has been the subject of investigations by ProPublica and The Chicago Tribune. Also, health inspections in recent years found the hospital didn’t have satisfactory policies and procedures to investigate abuse allegations.

Children in state care who remained at the hospital after 2018 have been monitored by someone from the state around the clock, according to DCFS.

Agency spokesman Jassen Strokosch said DCFS takes abuse allegations seriously and said previous administrations ‘œhollowed out’� the agency’s funding. He said Gov. J.B. Pritzker’s administration has reversed course and the 300 additional staff hired since April had already made ‘œdramatic improvements to overcome the challenges that have plagued the department for decades.’�

Chicago Lakeshore Hospital CEO Patricia McClure-Chessier defended the hospital Wednesday over “the egregious distortion that has been portrayed.”

She said the hospital has served the state as an anchor of mental health care that puts the health and safety of children first.

‘œIt is tragic that the Cook County Public Guardian chooses to malign health care providers instead of addressing the root of this statewide crisis: a lack of state funding which prevents children from getting appropriate care at the right time and in the right place,” she said in a statement.

Published at Wed, 18 Dec 2019 22:36:00 +0000

Imposter Scams Employ New Tech to Target Retirees’ Savings

Imposter Scams Employ New Tech to Target Retirees’ Savings

Across the nation, crimes of fraud targeting senior citizens are on the rise, and many of the attempts have become more advanced through the use of new technologies. In 2019, the Federal Trade Commission reported that imposter scams, which involve impersonating a person or an entity, were the most common type of fraud in the United States. Reports have almost doubled since 2016, according to the FTC, reaching a new high this year of more than 512,000.

Older citizens and retirees are particularly at risk — they’re often explicitly targeted and tend to be swindled out of much higher amounts than other age groups. Almost $149 million was reported in imposter scam losses by those over the age of 60 this year, FTC data shows.

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Published at Sun, 15 Dec 2019 16:14:37 +0000

Hackers Terrorize Children Through Ring Camera in Texas

Hackers Terrorize Children Through Ring Camera in Texas

A family from Kaufman County, Texas, said someone hacked into their Ring security camera and terrorized their children on Wednesday.

Lue Mayora was stuck in traffic on Highway 80 when her Ring camera was hacked. Her children were home alone, waiting for Mayora to come home.

Mayora said that someone set off her home alarm around 5:30 p.m., and her daughter went downstairs to see what caused the noise. A voice coming from the Ring camera told the children that they had five minutes to get out of the house or they would be killed, Mayora said.

According to Mayora, the hacker continued to taunt the children after they ran out of the house.

The hacker also taunted neighbors and deputy constables who arrived to help the children.

According to Kaufman County Constable Jason Johnson, law enforcement will be investigating this incident, regardless of whether it was a prank or not.

Published at Mon, 16 Dec 2019 00:56:04 +0000

Controversial Streaming Megastar PewDiePie Announces He Will Take a Break From YouTube, Says ‘I’m Tired’

Controversial Streaming Megastar PewDiePie Announces He Will Take a Break From YouTube, Says ‘I’m Tired’

What to Know

  • The 30-year-old Swedish vlogger, whose legal name is Felix Kjellberg, rose to prominence with his commentary on gaming culture, amassing a following of more than 100 million subscribers on the platform.
  • In recent years, Kjellberg has found himself at the center of controversy as some of his racist remarks have been embraced by far-right groups.
  • Kjellberg has made millions on advertising and other deals thanks to his massive YouTube following, but his offensive antics have caused some partners to reconsider their associations with the YouTube star.

Mired by allegations of racism and anti-Semitism, one of YouTube’s biggest stars, PewDiePie, announced he will take a break from the platform in 2020.

The 30-year-old Swedish vlogger, whose legal name is Felix Kjellberg, rose to prominence with his commentary on gaming culture, amassing a following of more than 100 million subscribers on the platform. In recent years, though, Kjellberg has found himself at the center of controversy as some of his racist remarks have been embraced by far-right groups. Kjellberg has repeatedly refuted allegations of racism and anti-Semitism.

Amid growing blowback for his remarks, Kjellberg took to YouTube this weekend to announce his departure from the platform.

“I am taking [a] break from YouTube next year,” he said in a video. “I wanted to say it in advance because I made up my mind. I’m tired. I’m feeling very tired. I don’t know if you can tell … early next year I’ll be away for a little while. I’ll explain that later but I wanted to give a heads up.”

In the video, Kjellberg criticizes YouTube for its new harassment policy, in which the company says it will no longer allow anyone on its platform to post content that “maliciously insults” others based on protected traits including race, gender expression and sexual orientation.

“We have this anarchy system. Don’t come and ruin it for us, YouTube,” he said. “The rule is if you do dumb sh*t on YouTube you will get called out on it. We need that. It’s the only thing keeping us sane, YouTube.”

The vlogger also posts videos to Amazon-owned Twitch as well as DLive. It’s unclear if he will also take a break from these platforms.

Kjellberg has made millions on advertising and other deals thanks to his massive YouTube following, but his offensive antics have caused some partners to reconsider their associations with the YouTube star.

In 2017, Disney cut ties with Kjellberg after he paid two men to hold a sign that read “Death to all Jews” in one video. YouTube also severed a partnership with Kjellberg at the time, though the platform didn’t remove his account.

Also in 2017, the YouTuber apologized for racist comments he made in a video. More recently, a gunman who live-streamed the mass shooting of 51 people at the Christchurch mosque shootings in New Zealand earlier this year announced, “Remember lads, Subscribe to PewDiePie.”

Kjellberg condemned the shooter.

Amid public criticism of his comments this year, Kjellberg promised to donate $50,000 to the Anti-Defamation League, a non-profit that fights anti-Semitism. He then cancelled the donation after some of his fans spread a theory that he had been forced to make the donation.

At the time, the vlogger said he wanted to support a charity he was “actually passionate to donate to.”

This story first appeared on CNBC.com. More from CNBC:

Published at Mon, 16 Dec 2019 17:06:06 +0000

Child refugees celebrate Christmas early in Waukegan, some for first time in U.S.

Child refugees celebrate Christmas early in Waukegan, some for first time in U.S.

WAUKEGAN (WLS) — About 45 child refugees were able to celebrate Christmas Sunday in Waukegan, thanks to some generous members of the community.

The League of United Latin American Citizens organized the event, in which dozens of children received donated gifts and visited with Santa Claus. For some, it was their first time celebrating Christmas in the United States.

The LULAC National Immigration Committee and Our Lady of Suyapa Sanctuary, a satellite of Lincoln United Methodist church, wanted to make sure local child refugees had a Christmas celebration because many of these children have had horrific experiences and very difficult journeys to arrive and to live safely in the US with their families, a news release from event organizers said.

“This is a time for everyone to come together,” said Julie Contreras, pastor of Our Lady of Suyapa and chair of the LULAC National Immigration Committee. “Today, in the true meaning of the birth of Jesus Christ, who was also a refugee, we will celebrate together as one family and bring joy to these innocent children who only want to live free and safe in the USA.”

The church members are hoping to improve their community by leading by example, the release said. Generous community members donated all the gifts for the children, according to organizers.

Copyright © 2019 WLS-TV. All Rights Reserved.

Published at Mon, 16 Dec 2019 01:18:03 +0000

Streamwood man who died in Guatemala left final gift for son

Streamwood man who died in Guatemala left final gift for son

On the day that Rafal “Ralph” Kamysz fell to his death while hiking near a waterfall in Guatemala, he’d bought a special bracelet to take back for his 8-year-old son Sebastian.

His brother Jerry Kamysz and sister Joanna Krause flew to Guatemala to bring home the body of the 40-year-old Streamwood man, a frequent traveler who had journeyed to more than 30 countries.


They wanted to make sure Sebastian would get his dad’s final gift.

The bracelet depicts a volcano. It was handcrafted by Guatemalans trying to earn money after a volcanic eruption displaced them from their homes, according to Ralph Kamysz’s partner Danielle Green. She was with him when he slipped and fell from a scenic spot on a coffee plantation outside Guatemala City.

“He thought it would be special to bring his son, and he picked the color red for the band because it’s his son’s favorite color,” Green said. “It was in his pocket later on, the day when he passed away.”

Sebastian was at his dad’s visitation on Dec. 6 at Countryside Funeral Home & Crematory in Roselle.

“We gave it to him at the wake,” his brother said.

“I asked if he wanted to wear it, and he said yes,” Green said. “To be able to come back and say, ‘We don’t have your dad, but we have this thing he wanted you to have, he was thinking about you.’ “

Mr. Kamysz was an internet sales manager for Woodfield Lexus.

For the complete story, visit chicago.suntimes.com.

Published at Sun, 15 Dec 2019 13:04:20 +0000

EXCHANGE: Program addressing youth incarceration may grow

EXCHANGE: Program addressing youth incarceration may grow

CARBONDALE, Ill. — A program that provides an alternative to incarceration for court-involved youth in Southern Illinois has reached a critical milestone.

In October, the Illinois Department of Human Services awarded an ‘œestablished site’� designation to the Union County-based Redeploy Illinois site, which serves most of the First Judicial Circuit.


That’s significant because it brings more certainty to annual state funding allocations and allows the community-based program to serve more youth than it has in the past, said Keri Clark, Union County’s director of juvenile services.

‘œBecoming an established site benefits all of us,’� Clark said. ‘œFor the youth, we can begin to effect change with earlier intervention. For the judiciary, we can equip decision makers with options for their high'”risk clients before they become felony offenders.’�

This is the fifth year that the program has been operational in the First Judicial Circuit, which comprises the counties of Alexander, Jackson, Johnson, Massac, Pope, Pulaski, Saline, Union and Williamson (Williamson, however, doesn’t participate because it has its own program).

But from the start, the Redeploy program serving these counties has suffered numerous setbacks, leading to a significant drop off in referrals from judges, state’s attorneys and probation officers, Clark said. The most significant problem, Clark said, was that only one type of therapy, provided by a single service provider was offered, and it didn’t fit the needs of the diverse problems facing juveniles that become part of the system.


Clark was hired about a year and a half ago, and under her direction, she has negotiated arrangements with additional providers that allow the program to offer a much broader menu of service options for the stakeholders to choose from when referring their juvenile clients. The state recognized that effort and provided the established site designation, she said. That means that it no longer has to compete for grant funding and will receive continuing appropriations upon submission of an annual plan.

Before the site designation, the program was also restricted to serving youth whose involvements with law enforcement or the judicial system were due to a few specific felony crimes. Now, almost every child will be a potential candidate for Redeploy Illinois, with only limited exceptions.

With these changes in place, Clark has embarked on a ‘œroad show’� traveling to various counties that make up the circuit to highlight the program’s improvements, answer questions and to encourage more referrals.

On Tuesday, for instance, she met with Joe Howerton, Jackson County probation supervisor.

Howerton was involved in helping guide some of the changes, based on his extensive experience working with youth in Jackson County. ‘œWith Redeploy, the idea is to find out whatever it is the kid needs and try to address that need.’� The limited offerings available before the more recent changes made it difficult to refer children, he said. For one thing, he said the only option previously available required family involvement. Howerton said he always prefers and encourages family involvement, but sometimes families can’t – or won’t – participate. ‘œAnd then we’re stuck with nothing. We had to have something else to work with,” he said.


New providers for the program include Centerstone Illinois, Vienna-based Family Counseling Center Inc., and the Stress and Trauma Treatment Center in Eldorado and Murphysboro, which is headed by licensed clinical psychologist Matt Buckman. What a child needs in therapy is case specific, Buckman said, but almost always involves addressing traumatic events they have experienced or witnessed and working on better coping mechanisms. He said that for many court-involved youth, they are living in a stressed, near-constant ‘œfight-or-flight’� state of mind because of this unaddressed trauma. He likened it to a person under stress lashing out at a spouse or colleague and later regretting it. The crimes committed by children living with unaddressed trauma are not typically premeditated, he said.

‘œUnfortunately, a lot of the youth in the judicial system, they’ve experienced abuse and neglect as children. Not all, but a lot of them have,’� Buckman said. ‘œThey’ve witnessed domestic violence or other types of community violence ‘» We’re trying to stop that cycle of violence where one generation after another just continues to follow the same path.’�

During his many years on the bench, George Timberlake, who retired in 2006 as chief judge of the Second Judicial Circuit, said he saw numerous individuals in the same families cycle through his courtroom related to various legal and personal troubles in their lives. It was frustrating, he said, watching people continue the same poor behaviors they had learned from those who had raised them. ‘œThat made me say, ‘˜Let’s do something else.”� He was particularly troubled by the youth he met in his courtroom, knowing that incarceration wouldn’t give them any better shot at a stable and productive life.

‘œUsing a prison for young people produces no positive results. In fact, it creates a higher likelihood that the young person would be involved in criminal activities in the future,’� said Timberlake, who is a member of the Redeploy Illinois Oversight Board and chair of the Illinois Juvenile Justice Commission.

But this program, he said, has worked. When it started, the goal was to reduce the number of children incarcerated by 25%. ‘œIn fact, the multiple sites have reduced incarceration by over 50%,’� he said.


Source: The (Carbondale) Southern Illinoisan, https://bit.ly/34jLVTX


Information from: Southern Illinoisan, http://www.southernillinoisan.com

Published at Wed, 11 Dec 2019 17:02:00 +0000