Prisons monitor inmate phone calls using speech-to-text AI • The Register


In short In the United States, prisons are installing AI text-to-speech models to automatically transcribe conversations with inmates during their phone calls.

A series of contracts and emails from eight different states revealed how Verus, an AI application developed by LEO Technologies and based on a text-to-speech system offered by Amazon, was used to listen to the phone calls of prisoners.

In a sales pitch, LEO CEO James Sexton told officials working for a Cook County, Illinois jail that one of his clients in Calhoun County, Alabama, was using the software to protect prisons from prosecution, according to to a Thomson Reuters Foundation investigation.

“(The) sheriff believes (the appeals) will help him evade pending liability through civil action from inmates and activists,” Sexton said. Verus transcribes phone calls and finds certain keywords dealing with issues such as COVID-19 outbreaks or other complaints about detention conditions.

The prisoners, however, said the tool was being used to catch the crime. In one case, he allegedly found an inmate illegally receiving unemployment benefits. But privacy advocates aren’t impressed. “The ability to monitor and listen on a large scale in this rapid manner – it’s incredibly frightening and frightening,” said Julie Mao, deputy director of Just Futures Law, an immigration legal group.

Drug designed by AI to treat lung disease begins clinical trials

Codenamed ISM001-055, the drug was first formulated by Pharma.AI, a software platform described as a “drug discovery engine” developed by startup Insilico Medicine, earlier this year in February.

The molecule was designed to treat idiopathic pulmonary fibrosis (IPF), a lung disease that causes scar tissue to form inside the organ, making it difficult to breathe. After the first tests, ISM001-055 looked so promising that Insilico Medicine decided to start clinical trials.

Healthy volunteers were selected for the trial to test for side effects. “We are very pleased to see Insilico Medicine’s first antifibrosis drug candidate enter the clinic,” noted Feng Ren, Scientific Director of Insilico Medicine. “We believe this is an important milestone in the history of AI-powered drug discovery because to our knowledge, the drug candidate is the very first new molecule discovered by AI-based on a new target discovered by the AI. “

There is currently no cure for IPF. If the AI-designed drug is able to treat the disease, it will show that the technology is capable of developing new drugs at lower costs than traditional methods.

Ex-Googler Ethics Chief Launches Own AI Research Lab

Timnit Gebru, who was controversially fired from her position as co-head of Google’s ethical AI research team a year ago, has set up her own independent lab.

The Distributed AI Research Institute (DAIR) focuses on studying the social harms of AI and how best to mitigate them. It has received total funding of $ 3.7 million from philanthropic groups and nonprofits such as the MacArthur Foundation, Ford Foundation, Kapor Center, Open Society Foundation and Rockefeller Foundation, according to at the Washington Post.

Gebru said she wanted to remain independent and chose to stay away from big investors to avoid being influenced by big tech companies. “Let’s say I oppose one funder – not these, but others,” she said. “There are all these Big Tech billionaires who are also in big philanthropy now.” DAIR’s research will examine and critique these large companies.

Some of the first projects with the institute’s first researcher, Raesetja Sefala, will study the analysis of satellite images to study the effects of segregation in South Africa. ®


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