💊 A new antibiotic drug discovered with AI and monitoring Chinese nationals in Moscow with face rec tech

📚You get some ethics! And you get some ethics!

The Good

Last week, researchers pubbed a study in Cell (which means it is extra fancy) documenting how AI discovered a new antibiotics drug.

This tech can’t be developed fast enough. In November, the CDC warned that we’re now entering a post-antibiotic era. Antibiotics, after decades of being overprescribed to people as well as being pumped into livestock to make them grow faster, have become less useful. According to the CDC, in the U.S. alone almost 3 million people are infected with antibiotic-resistant bacteria every year, and more than 35,000 people die as a result.

But antibiotics are costly to develop without the payout that a heart medicine comes with so big pharma has pretty much checked out of the development process. Which, as Engadget points out, is reasonable from a business point of view

According to a 2019 study by the Tufts Center for the Study of Drug Development, developing a single drug treatment costs $2.6 billion on average -- more than double what it cost in 2003 -- with only around 12 percent entering clinical development ever gaining FDA approval.

And as one of the researchers points out, what is happening isn’t cutting edge enough.

But over the past few decades, the discovery and regulatory approval of new antibiotics has slowed. “People keep finding the same molecules over and over,” says Collins. “We need novel chemistries with novel mechanisms of action.”

AI, as proven in this study and with all the money going into pharma startups, has the ability to make connections from vast amounts of data in new ways that could save lives for a fraction of the cost.

The Bad

Russia partially closed its border with China over coronavirus fears, but there are still thousands of Chinese nationals within Russia that have been ordered to self-quarantine. To make sure they are following these orders, Moscow turned to face rec tech to monitor them.

Already, Gizmodo documents a weird case where a woman tested positive for the virus (which ended up being wrong) and how Moscow officials used face rec tech to track her down and then monitor her neighbors. Nothing like a little incompetence in a quasi-dictatorship with dystopian tech to make confronting a global pandemic run smoothly.

That’s not the only race-based measures Moscow has put in place. According to EuroNews, Russian bus drivers have reportedly been ordered to report any Chinese nationals to the police, but the head of a Russian transportation union pointed out they can’t tell where someone is from by looking at them (smart man).

I wonder if there is any soul searching from the Chinese Communist Party, which has turned to face rec tech to surveil minority groups in China, especially the Uighur. Having the tech turned against your own people by outside parties could be a wake-up call (but probably won’t be).

More News

The Pentagon has some rules and guidelines it’s going to follow for ethical AI.

The Vatican also has some ideas about ethical AI!

London’s top cop thinks the public misunderstands face rec tech being rolled out across the city.

The EU wants a big ol’ biometric database, which would likely connect with the U.S. many, many databases.

China is rejiggering AI-powered software that usually reads CT scans to look for signs of pneumonia caused by coronavirus.

Airbnb wants you to be a narc and put up noise surveillance tech in your rental to deter partying and will give you a discount on the hardware to sweeten the deal.

Thanks to a leak, we know Clearview AI’s 2,200-long client list, which includes police depts (duh), individuals (!), and universities(?).

Google Translate now supports 108 languages, including five new languages—Kinyarwanda, Odia, Tatar, Turkmen, and Uyghur.


Until we all have our own robot Chidis to teach us about moral philosophy,