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OASI, the first search engine to find the algorithms that governments and companies use on citizens

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  • Created by Eticas Foundation, the Observatory of Algorithms with Social Impact, OASI, collects information from dozens of algorithms used by Public Administrations and companies around the world to learn more about their social impact.
  • The objective is to give public access to information on both governments and company algorithms, and to know who uses them, who develops them, what threats they represent and if they have been audited, among other characteristics.
  • Algorithm bias and discrimination usually occurs based on age, gender, race or disability, among other values, but due to the general lack of transparency, it is still not possible to know all its consequences on the affected groups.

Eticas Foundation, a non-profit organization that promotes the responsible use of algorithms and Artificial Intelligence (AI) systems, has created the Observatory of Algorithms with Social Impact (OASI). This Observatory introduces a search engine to know more about the tools that make important automated decisions on citizens, consumers and users around the world.

Currently, both companies and Public Administrations automate decisions thanks to algorithms. However, its development and commissioning does not follow external quality controls, neither it is as transparent as it should be, which leaves the population unprotected. With this search engine, anyone can find out more about these algorithms: who has developed them, who uses them, their scope of application, whether they have been audited, their objectives or their social impact and the threats they represent.

At the moment, OASI collects 57 algorithms, but expects to reach the 100 in the following months. Among them, 24 are being already applied in the USA by the Government and Big Tech companies. For example, ShotSpotter, an algorithm tool deployed by the Oakland Police Department to fight and reduce gun violence through sound-monitoring microphones, and an algorithm to predict potential child abuse and neglect used by Allegheny County, Pennsylvania. Another example from a corporate is Rekognition, Amazon’s facial recognition system, which was audited by the MIT Media Lab in early 2019, and found to perform substantially worse when identifying an individual’s gender if they were female or darker-skinned.

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The most common discrimination is on grounds of age, gender, race or disability, produced unintentionally by developers who lack of socioeconomic skills to understand the impact of this technology. In this sense, these engineers design the algorithms based only on technical skills, and since there is no external controls and it seems to be working as expected, the algorithm keep learning from deficient data.

Given the lack of transparency about the functioning of some of these algorithms, Eticas Foundation, apart from the launch of OASI, is developing a project of external audits. The first is VioGén, the algorithm used by the Spanish Interior Ministry to assign risk to women who seek protection after suffering cases of domestic violence. Eticas will conduct an external audit through reverse engineering and administrative data, interviews, reports or design scripts, to collect results at scale. All this with the objective of detecting opportunities for improvement in the protection of these women.

“Despite the existence of algorithmic control and audit methods to ensure that technology respects current regulations and fundamental rights, the Administration and many companies continue to turn a deaf ear to requests for transparency from citizens and institutions,” declared Gemma Galdon, founder of Eticas Foundation. “In addition to OASI, after several years in which we have developed more than a dozen audits for companies such as Alpha Telefónica, the United Nations, Koa Health or the Inter-American Development Bank, we have also published an Guide to Algorithmic Audit so that anyone can perform them. The objective is always to raise awareness, provide transparency and restore confidence in technology, which in itself does not have to be harmful.”

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In this sense, algorithms that are trained with machine learning tecnhiques using a large amount of historical data to "teach" them to choose based on past decisions. Usually these data are not representative of the socioeconomic and cultural reality on which they are applied, but on many occasions they reflect an unfair situation which is not intended to be perpetuated. In this way, the algorithm would be technically making "correct" decisions according to its training, even though the reality is that its recommendations or predictions are biased or discriminate.

About Eticas Foundation

Eticas Foundation works to translate into technical specifications the principles that guide society, such as equal opportunities, transparency and non-discrimination which are in the technologies that make automated decisions about our lives. It seeks a balance between changing social values, the technical possibilities of the latest advances and the legal framework. To this end, it audits algorithms, verifies that legal guarantees are applied to the digital world, especially to Artificial Intelligence, and carries out intense work to raise awareness and disseminate the need for responsible, quality technology.

Computer technology

Artel to strengthen position as a leading innovator in Central Asia

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Artel Electronics LLC (Artel), Central Asia’s leading home appliance and electronics manufacturer and one of Uzbekistan’s largest companies, continues to strengthen its Research and Development (R&D) position to bring new, innovative products to its customers.

Artel’s custom R&D centre in Tashkent is one of the most extensive manufacturing research facilities in Central Asia. The centre’s designers, engineers and technicians develop new technologies to advance the next generation of contemporary products for the modern home.

The expansion of Artel’s R&D centre is at the heart of the company’s forward-looking strategy. In the near future, the company will strengthen its in-house expertise through employing over 100 additional specialists and by attracting leading international talent. The centre will also establish a number of departments dedicated to research priorities, including in automation and robotics. Moreover, to capitalize on international trends, Artel is exploring establishing branches of the R&D centre overseas, including in Turkey and China, and partnership opportunities with technical universities worldwide.

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The R&D centre also plays a central role in the identification and training of the next generation of Uzbek technicians, designers and engineers. The R&D centre has had long lasting cooperation with the Department of Mechatronics and Robotics at the Islam Karimov Tashkent State Technical University, and a branch of the centre focusing on automation and robotization of production operates on site. Since establishment, the centre has provided state-of-the-art training to over 250 young specialists who now work throughout Artel’s operations. By investing in and nurturing homegrown talent, Artel channels expertise, ideas and creativity into its operations.

Rustem Lenurovich, director of the R&D Center, said: “At Artel, we know that the constant development of new, sophisticated products and processes is fundamental to our business and growth. Through our hard work and innovation, and by investing in energetic young talent, we will continue to deliver the most advanced appliances and electronics to our customers. We look forward to strengthening our R&D position even further in the coming years.”

Artel’s R&D facility was established in 2016, and the main center was opened in 2017. The centre’s team of specialists develop technologies to continuously refresh the company’s product portfolio and optimize production processes. The onsite VR laboratory and pilot production facilities are used to create and test prototypes. In the first half of 2021 alone, the centre initiated over 30 projects. The centre has also recently partnered with Gree company on the development of washing machine and air conditioner technologies.

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Artel Electronics LLC manufactures a wide range of household appliances and electronics, and operates in all regions of Uzbekistan. The company currently exports its products to over 20 countries throughout the CIS and the Middle East, and is also the regional partner of Samsung and Viessmann.

For further information, please click here.

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Bulgaria

Eastern Europe’s most powerful supercomputer will be hosted by Bulgaria. What’s it good for?

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The IT giant Atos said that is has fully delivered to Bulgaria’s Sofia Tech Park a super computer that is expected to be Eastern Europe’s most powerful such device, writes Cristian Gherasim, Bucharest correspondent.

The petascale computing system will help greatly with Bulgaria’s tech ambitions in the years to come.

The supercomputers will serve in the development of scientific, public and industrial applications in various fields, including bioinformatics, pharmacy, molecular and mechanical dynamics, quantum chemistry and biochemistry, artificial intelligence, personalized medicine, bioengineering, meteorology and the fight against climate change.

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Atos, the company delivering the supercomputer, said in a press release that the computer is expected to be fully operational in July 2021.

“This will be the most powerful supercomputer in Eastern Europe and will help to leverage Bulgaria’s high-tech ambitions. Atos’ Czech Republic project teams have already started the configuration tests and the supercomputer is expected to start working operationally in July 2021,” the company said in a press release.

But this is not just a Bulgarian accomplishment but also a European one, benefiting European scientific research, bolstering innovation, and providing the wider scientific community with state of the art research and development tools.

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The supercomputer is co-financed by the Republic of Bulgaria and European Union EuroHPC JU program. The total investment amounts to 11.5 million euros.

The petascale computing system in Bulgaria will be similar to other supercomputing systems in university and research centers across Europe, such as CINECA in Italia, IZUM in Slovenia, LuxProvide in Luxemburg și Minho Advanced Computing Center from Portugal.

The computing system present in Bulgaria will thus consolidate EU’s network of research capabilities and strengthened its endeavors to develop new tech and research hubs in its member states.

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Computer technology

Inauguration of the European High Performance Computing Joint Undertaking Headquarters in Luxembourg

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Internal Market Commissioner Thierry Breton, together with Luxembourg's Foreign and European Affair Minister Jean Asselborn, and Economy Minister Franz Fayot, inaugurated the headquarters of the European High Performance Computing (EuroHPC) Joint Undertaking in Luxembourg. Commissioner Breton said: “I am delighted to inaugurate the new home for European HPC. Supercomputing is key for the digital sovereignty of the EU. High Performance Computers are crucial to harness the full potential of data — notably for AI applications, health research and industry 4.0. We are massively investing in this cutting-edge technology for Europe to remain ahead of the global tech race.” The mission of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking is to pool European and national resources to procure and deploy world-class supercomputers and technologies.

Supercomputers will help European researchers and industry to make significant advances in areas such as bio-engineering, personalised medicine, fighting against climate change, weather forecasting, as well as in the discovery of drugs and of new materials that will benefit all EU citizens. The Commission is committed to supporting research and innovation for new supercomputing technologies, systems and products, as well as fostering the necessary skills to use the infrastructure and build a world-class ecosystem in Europe. A Commission proposal for a new EuroHPC JU Regulation, presented in September 2020, aims to enable a further investment of €8 billion to help drive and expand the work of the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking in order to provide the next generation of supercomputers and to support an ambitious HPC research and innovation agenda in the EU. More information will be available in this press release by the EuroHPC Joint Undertaking.

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