• Tracking friends and strangers using WhatsApp. Hacker News discussion here. It turns out it's fairly easy to monitor anyone's WhatsApp usage, regardless of their privacy settings.

    [...] You start a company that runs a service that takes a phone number and returns WhatsApp usage for that number. You sell this information to health insurers and credit agencies, who are both very suspicious of people who are awake at 4am. [...]

  • China to build giant facial recognition database to identify any citizen within seconds.

    China is building the world’s most powerful facial recognition system with the power to identify any one of its 1.3 billion citizens within three seconds.

    The goal is for the system to able to match someone’s face to their ID photo with about 90 per cent accuracy.

  • [PDF] 'I've Got Nothing to Hide' and Other Misunderstandings of Privacy. This is a bit unrelated to stuff I normally post here, as it doesn't have anything to do with data per se, but it is a must-read.

    In this short essay, written for a symposium in the San Diego Law Review, Professor Daniel Solove examines the nothing to hide argument. When asked about government surveillance and data mining, many people respond by declaring: "I've got nothing to hide." According to the nothing to hide argument, there is no threat to privacy unless the government uncovers unlawful activity, in which case a person has no legitimate justification to claim that it remain private. The nothing to hide argument and its variants are quite prevalent, and thus are worth addressing. In this essay, Solove critiques the nothing to hide argument and exposes its faulty underpinnings.


  • Montreal AI pioneer warns against unethical uses of new tech.

    Yoshua Bengio, the head of the Montreal Institute for Learning Algorithms, is known as the "godfather" of Canadian deep learning. He believes the sector and governments need to address concerns including the building of so-called killer robots and development of facial recognition that can be used by authoritarian regimes to repress their citizens.

    Facebook's director of AI Research, Yann LeCun, adds that large companies involved in the research need to create a partnership to discuss issues such as the potential use of the technology to manipulate democracy and develop guidelines on the appropriate ways to construct, train, test and deploy discoveries.

  • China’s AI Awakening.

    [China] is now embarking on an unprecedented effort to master artificial intelligence. Its government is planning to pour hundreds of billions of yuan (tens of billions of dollars) into the technology in coming years, and companies are investing heavily in nurturing and developing AI talent. If this country-­wide effort succeeds—and there are many signs it will—China could emerge as a leading force in AI, improving the productivity of its industries and helping it become leader in creating new businesses that leverage the technology. And if, as many believe, AI is the key to future growth, China’s prowess in the field will help fortify its position as the dominant economic power in the world.

Data Links is a periodic blog post published on Sundays (specific time may vary) which contains interesting links about data science, machine learning and related topics. You can subscribe to it using the general blog RSS feed or this one, which only contains these articles, if you are not interested in other things I might publish.

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