AI Talk: Consumer Protection, middle schoolers, speedy run-away star and tennis

September 20th, 2019 / By V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD

This week’s AI Talk…

California Consumer Protection Act (CCPA)

Last week, Fortune had an in-depth article on a new piece of consumer protection legislation that will become law January 1, 2020—just a few short months away! This law protecting consumers in California has withstood aggressive lobbying by the tech industry. What protection does this law provide? It will force large companies to divulge exactly what data they are collecting on consumers and make it easy for consumers to delete their personal data or forbid the company from selling their data. Now, why is this a big deal? It is only applicable in one state out of fifty, but California would be the fifth largest economy in the world if it were a country! Tech giants will probably implement the same solution for all consumers, opines the article, thereby making the protection afforded to Californians national. I was naturally curious to see what the impact of this law is on healthcare data. Turns out, there is a carve out exception for entities covered by HIPAA. If an organization is covered by HIPAA or a Business Associate Agreement, the Protected Health Information (PHI) is covered by HIPAA and not CCPA. However, the law has some quirky side effects. A supplier of a health app, say a smart watch app, is governed by CCPA, as it is not a healthcare provider and not covered by HIPAA. However, if a health system were to provide the same app for its patients, it would be covered by HIPAA and not CCPA. In any case, the California effort aims to bring our privacy laws more in line with the Europe’s General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR), though according to this article, it does not go as far as the European standard. We won’t know the full ramifications of this law until it goes into effect and is in place for a period of time.

Teaching middle schoolers about AI

I saw a fascinating article in MIT Technology Review about how to teach middle schoolers about AI. Why middle schoolers? Their brains are in a formative stage, surrounded by all kinds of AI devices (Alexa and Siri are ubiquitous), and these factors prime them for a world filled with AI. Blakely Payne of MIT Media Lab has developed a complete open-sourced curriculum, which was used to teach a pilot group of middle schoolers. Take a peek at this curriculum: It’s fascinating! Teaching kids how the machine learning algorithm works, the ethics of AI, bias in learning and much more.  Perhaps, adults can learn a few things from this curriculum too!

Speedy Gonzales

We are not talking about the animated cartoon character—but an honest to goodness real star! According to the latest theory on this front, this star was sling-shot out of the galaxy by coming near a mid-mass black hole! What in the world is a mid-mass black hole? It’s a black hole large enough to swallow hundreds of thousands of times the mass of our sun. If that is mid-mass, what’s bigger? A super-massive black hole, of course, which can be millions or billions of times larger than the sun’s mass(astronomical scales are totally humbling)! It underscores how insignificant we are in the overall scheme of things. As for that speedy Gonzales of a star—wishing it well on its travels throughout the Universe.

Tennis and AI

It’s been a couple of weeks since U.S. Open Tennis concluded with some spectacular results! Nadal won his 19th major, beating a Russian 10-years his junior, who almost beat him. And a  Canadian teenager, Bianca Andreescu, won the women’s title. If you watched any of the matches, there was one constant: highlights by Watson AI, lots of data points comparing how one player did vs. the other. In short, according to this Wall Street Journal article, AI has taken over the tennis world in a big way! U.S. Open Tennis made use of AI for its cybersecurity efforts, as well as for a variety of data analytics tasks. Sloan Stevens is one of the players participating in a program that provides detailed analysis of her performance. Such data will be valuable to the coaches working with these athletes. The U.S. Open organization plans to release these tools to coaches across the board. If you think the games are super-competitive now, it’s shaping up to become even more so!

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V. “Juggy” Jagannathan, PhD, is an AI Evangelist with four decades of experience in AI and Computer Science research.