More on "embracing the suck," from Wired, on Thursday…

Facebook’s ‘Deep Learning’ Guru Reveals the Future of AI
By Cade Metz
12.12.13   6:30 AM

New York University professor Yann LeCun has spent the last 30 years exploring artificial intelligence, designing “deep learning” computing systems that process information in ways not unlike the human brain. And now he’s bringing this work to Facebook.

Earlier this week, the social networking giant told the world it had hired the French-born scientist to head its new artificial intelligence lab, which will span operations in California, London, and New York. From Facebook’s new offices on Manhattan’s Astor Place, LeCun will oversee the development of deep-learning tools that can help Facebook analyze data and behavior on its massively popular social networking service — and ultimately revamp the way the thing operates.

With deep learning, Facebook could automatically identify faces in the photographs you upload, automatically tag them with the right names, and instantly share them with friends and family who might enjoy them too. Using similar techniques to analyze your daily activity on the site, it could automatically show you more stuff you wanna see.

In some ways, Facebook and AI is a rather creepy combination. Deep learning provides a more effective means of analyzing your most personal of habits. “What Facebook can do with deep learning is unlimited,” says Abdel-rahman Mohamed, who worked on similar AI research at the University of Toronto. “Every day, Facebook is collecting the network of relationships between people. It’s getting your activity over the course of the day. It knows how you vote — Democrat or Republican. It knows what products you buy.”

But at the same time, if you assume the company can balance its AI efforts with your need for privacy…

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UPDATE: 12/17/13, 3:00AM EST...

As we learn from a piece from June at thewire.com (see link in blockquote, below), “About a year after Facebook reportedly joined the NSA's PRISM, Max Kelly, the social network's chief security officer left for a job at the National Security Agency, either a curious career move or one that makes complete sense.”

The Wire then informs us that, “The Chief Security Officer at a tech company is primarily concerned with keeping its information inside the company.”

In and of itself, this is somewhat of an eye-opener (some might even refer to it as a key Facebook employee doing a "round trip" through the infamous U.S. government "revolving door"); however, the following three paragraphs in the article are…well…how should I say this? Hmm…I think “alarming” might be a good word. But, judge for yourself…

Facebook's Former Security Chief Now Works for the NSA
Rebecca Greenfield
Jun 20, 2013 9:40AM ET

…Facebook, among other tech companies, has distanced itself from the government, claiming it only cooperates when it is legally required to. But, "current and former industry officials say the companies sometimes secretly put together teams of in-house experts to find ways to cooperate more completely with the NSA and to make their customers' information more accessible to the agency," report the New York Times's James Risen and Nick Wingfield.

Before Kelly — who once worked at the FBI — took the job at the NSA, he indicated a coziness with the government. Three weeks after leaving the network in 2010, he made a speech at the Defcon hacking conference that argued greater cooperation between places like Facebook and military defense. "Commercial entities and the military are dealing with the same problem,"  he said. "They should both understand their roles in the larger picture. There isn’t enough information shared." There he was more specifically addressing cyber-attacks from places like China, which as he predicted has turned into a national security issue. But, his speech also indicates that he thinks these two, at times opposed, industries should work together.

It's unclear what Kelly exactly does at the NSA — he might have a job that has nothing to do with PRISM. Though, the Times report suggests the feds recruited him because of his Silicon Valley ties…


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As noted in a similar story in the Daily Mail, over the weekend…

Facebook wants to become your new best friend by knowing everything about you - and it's going to happen whether you like it not…

…LeCun said the new artificial intelligence lab would be the largest research facility of its kind in the world, though he declined to provide numbers.

…The lab will be based in three locations -- New York, London and Facebook's headquarters in Menlo Park, California…

Let’s stop right there.

No! Hell, no!

As the Electronic Privacy Information Center (E.P.I.C.) notes, and as excerpted farther down, below, we most definitely cannot assume that Facebook “can balance its AI efforts with your need for privacy.”

As Wired reporter Cade Metz noted in a related article, a week ago…

…Facebook has not said where, specifically, it intends to take its deep learning research. But the company clearly sees this work is a big part of its future…
What could possibly go wrong? Ummm...pretty much, everything.

And, here’s just about everything you need to know about Facebook and privacy, from E.P.I.C. (Readers, please note, I’m excerpting just the first three items on an E.P.I.C. web page that contains scores, if not hundreds, of related stories about Facebook and their privacy policies. I highly recommend a read of their web page.)

…Latest News/Events
•    Facebook Removes Crucial Privacy Setting for Users’ Names : Facebook has begun removing a privacy setting that allowed users to opt-out from their name being included in its “Graph Search” feature. All users, even those who had previously decided to remove their name from searches, will now be included in Graph Search results. Facebook is currently under a 20 year consent decree from the FTC that requires express affirmative consent from users before disclosing personal information which exceeds the restrictions imposed by users' privacy settings. Facebook announced the change last year, at which point EPIC warned about the consequences of Facebook removing privacy settings for its users. In 2012, EPIC sent a letter to Facebook requesting a reversal of policy changes that automatically shared users’ private information. For more information, see EPIC: Facebook and EPIC: In re Facebook. (Oct. 11, 2013)

•    Pressure Mounts on Facebook to Withdraw Proposed Changes, New Scrutiny of "Faceprints": Facebook is under increasing pressure to withdraw proposed changes that would allow the company to use the names, images, and content of Facebook users for advertising without consent. After EPIC and several privacy groups wrote to the Federal Trade Commission that the changes would violate a 2011 Consent Order, the Commission has opened an investigation. Senator Ed Markey also wrote to the FTC, stating that Facebook's changes "raise a number of questions about whether Facebook is improperly altering its privacy policy without proper user consent and, if the changes go into effect, the degree to which Facebook users will lose control over their personal information." Senator Al Franken has called on Facebook to reconsider expansion of its facial recognition activity. In a letter to Mark Zuckerberg, Senator Franken asked "How many face prints does Facebook have?" For more information, see EPIC: Federal Trade Commission and EPIC: Facebook Privacy. (Sep. 13, 2013)

•    EPIC, Privacy Groups, Urge FTC to Block Facebook Policy Changes: EPIC, joined by several leading privacy and consumer protection organizations, has called on the Federal Trade Commission to enforce the terms of a 2011 settlement with Facebook. Facebook recently announced changes that would allow the company to routinely use the names, images, and content of Facebook users for commercial advertising without consent. The changes arise from a flawed class action settlement over Facebook’s Sponsored Stories program. In the letter, the privacy groups explain that Facebook’s changes violate the terms of a 2011 settlement with the FTC. For more information, see EPIC: Federal Trade Commission and EPIC: Facebook Privacy. (Sep. 5, 2013)

•    EPIC Pursues Public Release of Facebook and MySpace Privacy Reports…

Yes, let’s see what happens as so-called Democrats double down on Facebook’s political censorship, their record-breaking invasion of personal privacy and their blatant disruption of free thought. That's been working out so well for us, of late....

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