Data Digest #8: Robot Comedians and Tinder Makeovers
August 14, 2023
The cogs of the data world are perpetually turning. Data never sleeps. Brace yourself for an exciting overview into some of the top data news stories that have been gracing our screens over the past month.
Wired: Pornhub under investigation for illegal data collection
Pornhub is no stranger to controversy. In March of this year, Netflix released a documentary called Money Shot: The Pornhub Story, which explored the dark undercurrents of the adult streaming platform. Three years prior, The New York Times published an article entitled The Children of Pornhub, an exposé on the child exploitation that took place in plain sight on the platform.
And earlier this summer, Pornhub experienced a fresh new wave of criticism when Italy launched a legal complaint against the website due to its failure to comply to strict European GDPR data laws. According to activists, Pornhub does not sufficiently warn users about how their data is being stored by the website, even though every video they watch is being logged onto their phone, which the platform uses to assign sexual preferences to users, thus informing the videos that pop up in their recommended feed.
And Pornhub isn’t the only adult website coming under fire for its misuse of user data. An analysis of over 22,000 porn website revealed that over 93% of them leak data to third-parties. But the main problem with Pornhub in particular is its inability to be transparent with users – in layman’s terms – about how their data is being used. Users aren’t given a straightforward way to ‘opt-out’ of cookies, which is proving to be the main issue activists take with the website.
Sky News: AI comedians set to take the stage at Edinburgh Fringe
After watching Mo Gawdat’s episode on the Diary of a CEO podcast, I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to see the funny side to AI. However, the terrifying technological developments taking place under our noses are being confronted head-on by a number of comedians, who consider it the ultimate fodder for dark humour.
One such comedian is LA-based Clown Courtney Pauroso, who invented Vanessa 5000, a robot who is set to perform at this year’s Edinburgh Fringe. Alongside Vanessa, a whole host of human comedians will become mouthpieces through which jokes that have been conjured up by AI are funnelled. Their job will simply be trying to get a laugh out of the audience using AI jokes, despite the fact that robots are notoriously unfunny.
Humour is a fundamentally complex, inherently human skill: From comedic timing to reading audience emotions, there’s so much that comes into play at a stand-up show. Even when you ask ChatGPT to tell you a joke, something about it feels a little…off. I think it’s safe to say that comedians are safe from the clutches of AI…for now.
The Guardian: Will AI replace architects?
It’s no secret that AI is becoming more and more sophisticated as the days and seconds go by. To some, this may be exciting news, but for others choosing to look at the matter more critically, there seems to be an unspoken tension simmering beneath the surface. The more advanced AI becomes, the more many of us feel like we’re suffocating in a stifling atmosphere of uncertainty. And those among us who feel like AI is on the verge of taking their jobs are undoubtedly feeling it the most.
Writers and actors already feel like they’re on the chopping block (thanks to ChatGPT and advanced CGI) but are architects the latest profession on the firing line?
Using image-making AI tools, it’s now possible to create images of buildings that don’t actually exist – think Gaudi-esque high rises covered in algae and swarming with every colour of the rainbow – simply by describing it and letting the software do the hard work of rendering it.
However, many people don’t realise that AI is already having a tangible impact in the real world, too. Many architecture firms are using AI in real projects, often streamlining the design process by employing different tools for functionality purposes: To optimise the placement of plug sockets and electricity units, or predict the amount of daylight a building will get. Meanwhile, other architecture firms are using AI to brainstorm ideas or put forward multiple design options for a client at the click of a finger – AI is able to create many rough sketches of different design options that the architects themselves can then work from.
Understandably, there are concerns about these developments. Firstly, the issue of intellectual property and data laws is a minefield in and of itself that could be cause ethical issues down the line for many architects depending on this technology. Furthermore, with AI already performing many of the mundane, practical tasks that junior architects do, how long is it until the technology replaces the entire industry point blank?
Gov.uk: Every criminal court now part of a single data system
Any true crime buff knows that one of the main reasons it can take so long to bring an offender to justice is the inefficient bureaucracy of a criminal justice system. It’s a tale as old as time: When police officials, lawyers and the courts aren’t united under the common flag of a single system where all case information can be accessed, frustration and chaos inevitably ensues.
A promising new government initiative launched this month promises to resolve this dilemma by gathering all criminal data across England and Wales onto one single digital platform, known as the ‘Common Platform’. Every piece of information relating to a criminal case is now to be stored there, from the beginning of the case – starting with arrest – right up to prison release and probation.
Prior to the launch of this new plan, the criminal justice system still relied on archaic remnants of an outdated system: Namely piles of paperwork and ancient computer systems. This new endeavour looks set to make the criminal justice system more seamless, resulting in a smoother and faster process for all parties involved.
Sky News: AI is judging your Tinder profile
For many people, there’s nothing more daunting than the prospect of putting together a dating profile. Carefully curating a detailed portrait of yourself to present to potential suitors is no small feat – but luckily, AI could be coming to the rescue.
Tinder is currently testing a new AI tool that promises to sift through a whole album of photos in a bid to pluck out the five best snaps that have the highest chance of securing more matches – according to the Chief Executive of Match, the company that owns Tinder as well as other dating apps, such as Hinge and OkCupid.
This is set to be just one new feature in a series of changes being made by the dating app using AI, that is seeking to improve user efficiency. Tinder already uses an algorithm to increase the chances of users finding a match in fewer swipes, but the app is now planning to have a feature that explains the reasoning behind these decisions to the user. It looks like AI is about to make the minefield of online dating a whole lot simpler.
December 19, 2023