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U.S. and EU to launch first-of-its-kind AI agreement

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The U.S. and European Union on Friday announced an agreement to speed up and enhance the use of artificial intelligence to improve agriculture, healthcare, emergency response, climate forecasting and the electric grid.

A senior U.S. administration official, discussing the initiative shortly before the official announcement, called it the first sweeping AI agreement between the U.S. and Europe. Previously, agreements on the issue had been limited to specific areas such as enhancing privacy, the official said.

AI modeling, which refers to machine-learning algorithms that use data to make logical decisions, could be used to improve the speed and efficiency of government operations and services.

“The magic here is in building joint models (while) leaving data where it is,” the senior administration official said. “The U.S. data stays in the U.S. and European data stays there, but we can build a model that talks to the European and the U.S. data because the more data and the more diverse data, the better the model.”

The initiative will give governments greater access to more detailed and data-rich AI models, leading to more efficient emergency responses and electric grid management, and other benefits, the administration official said.

Pointing to the electric grid, the official said the U.S. collects data on how electricity is being used, where it is generated, and how to balance the grid’s load so that weather changes do not knock it offline.

Many European countries have similar data points they gather relating to their own grids, the official said. Under the new partnership all of that data would be harnessed into a common AI model that would produce better results for emergency managers, grid operators and others relying on AI to improve systems.

The partnership is currently between just the White House and the European Commission, the executive arm of the 27-member European Union. The senior administration official said other countries will be invited to join in the coming months.

Source(s): CGTN

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Chinese team perform world-first robotic surgery from Rome in Beijing

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In a world first, a Chinese surgeon performed a remote transcontinental telesurgery from Rome on a prostate cancer patient in Beijing, over 8,000 kilometers away.

Professor Zhang Xu performed the live surgery at a conference in Italy, guiding robotic arms remotely via a surgical console to complete the delicate work of removing a lesion from the patient’s prostate.

A Chinese team of medics, including a back-up surgeon, watched the operation closely at the Third Medical Center of the People’s Liberation Army General Hospital.

The delay, or latency, was only 135 milliseconds, below the 200 milliseconds standard suggested by various medical studies for telesurgery.

“The biggest problem with a remote surgery is communication – whether there is any delay,” said Zhang, who is also the the director of the Urology Department at the Third Medical Center of PLA General Hospital.

“During today’s surgery, there was almost no delay, and it was almost the same as an on-site surgery,” he added.

The chairman of the conference on Challenges in Laparoscopy, Robotics and AI, Vito Pansadoro, said the achievement was a historical moment.

“The fact that he was able to do it in Rome makes us very, very happy,” he said.

After the success of the operation, the team says it will experiment with using the technology to direct surgical treatments for the military.

Source(s): CGTN

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Google trial wraps up as judge weighs landmark U.S. antitrust claims

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Google and the U.S. Justice Department wrapped up closing arguments on Friday over claims that the Alphabet unit has unlawfully dominated web search and related advertising, in a case the government contends could shape the “future of the internet.”

U.S. District Judge Amit Mehta in Washington for hours grilled both sides with questions, probing whether competitive platforms such as ByteDance’s TikTok and Meta’s Facebook and Instagram are competitive substitutes for search advertising dollars.

Mehta said a central issue was platform “substitute-ability” for advertisers, which the court must resolve. He will now begin preparing to render a major decision on whether Google’s conduct broke civil antitrust law. He did not indicate when he would rule, but experts say he could potentially order changes to Google’s business practices.

Mehta also questioned whether Google assesses competitors’ pricing while considering its own adjustments. Google’s advertising business is responsible for about three-quarters of its revenue.

U.S. government lawyer David Dahlquist argued that “advertising revenue is what drives Google’s monopoly power today.”

Google has boasted it feels no real market pressures, Dahlquist said, arguing that the company does not fear increasing its pricing or not improving its products.

“Only a monopolist can make a product worse and still make more money,” Dahlquist argued.

Google’s lawyer John Schmidtlein countered that Google’s share of U.S. digital advertising revenue has steadily decreased. He touted the advertising power of rival platforms ByteDance’s TikTok, Meta’s Facebook and Instagram, and Amazon.

That’s because it’s not made from plastic, but wheat straw and has seeds nestled inside.

Schmidtlein argued that Google is “constrained” by rival platforms “where the eyeballs are,” because advertisers know there are overlapping audiences and can spend their dollars elsewhere.

He also asserted that Google was continually moving to innovate its search advertising products. “If Google is a monopolist, why improve anything? Why not just jack the price up?” he told the court. He later argued that “Google has won with a superior product.”

The Justice Department has hammered away at Google in a trial that started on September 12, contending the search engine giant is a monopolist that illegally abused its power to boost profits.

Witnesses from Verizon, Android maker Samsung Electronics and Google itself testified about the company’s annual payments, $26.3 billion in 2021, to ensure that its search is the default on smartphones and browsers, and to keep its dominant market share.

Mehta also took up the government’s claim that Google intentionally destroyed internal documents that were relevant to the issues in the lawsuit.

The government asked Mehta to presume that Google deleted chats that were unfavorable to the company.

Mehta repeatedly questioned Google’s prior policies, which he said left document retention decisions to its employees.

“They should have been preserved. Should there be some consequence for what at a minimum was far from best practices?” the judge asked.

A lawyer for Google, Colette Connor, defended its data preservation practices, calling them reasonable, and urged the court not to sanction the company.

The case, filed by former U.S. President Donald Trump’s administration, was the first of several aimed at reining in the market power of tech leaders.

Another case, against Facebook parent Meta, was also filed during the Trump administration. U.S. President Joe Biden’s antitrust enforcers have followed with a second case against Google and cases against Amazon.com and Apple Inc.

Source(s): CGTN

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UN adopts first global artificial intelligence resolution to ensure AI is safe

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The United Nations General Assembly unanimously adopted the first global resolution on artificial intelligence on Thursday, encouraging countries to safeguard human rights, protect personal data, and monitor AI for risks.

The nonbinding resolution, proposed by the United States and co-sponsored by China along with over 120 other nations, also advocates for the strengthening of privacy policies.

“Today, all 193 members of the United Nations General Assembly have spoken in one voice, and together, chosen to govern artificial intelligence rather than let it govern us,” U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations Linda Thomas-Greenfield said.

The resolution is the latest in a series of initiatives – few of which carry significant enforceability – by governments around the world to shape AI’s development amid fears it could disrupt democratic processes, turbocharge fraud, or lead to dramatic job losses, among other harms.

“The improper or malicious design, development, deployment and use of artificial intelligence systems … pose risks that could … undercut the protection, promotion and enjoyment of human rights and fundamental freedoms,” the measure states.

In November, the U.S., Britain and more than a dozen other countries unveiled the first detailed international agreement on how to keep artificial intelligence safe from rogue actors, pushing for companies to create AI systems that are “secure by design.”

Europe is ahead of the United States, with EU lawmakers adopting a provisional agreement this month to oversee the technology. The Biden administration has been pressing lawmakers for AI regulation, but a polarized U.S. Congress has made little headway. In the meantime, the White House sought to reduce AI risks to consumers, workers, and minorities while also bolstering national security with a new executive order in October.

The resolution aims to close the digital divide between rich developed countries and poorer developing countries to ensure that all are included in discussions on AI. It also aims to ensure that developing countries have the technology and capabilities to take advantage of AI’s benefits, including detecting diseases, predicting floods, helping farmers, and training the next generation of workers.

The resolution recognizes the rapid acceleration of AI development and use and stresses “the urgency of achieving global consensus on safe, secure and trustworthy artificial intelligence systems.”

It also acknowledges that “the governance of artificial intelligence systems is an evolving area” that requires further discussions on possible governance approaches and emphasizes that innovation and regulation are mutually reinforcing – not mutually exclusive.

Source(s): CGTN

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