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IBM tech to detect AI bias

IBM has introduced technology that gives businesses new transparency into AI, enabling them to more fully harness its power.

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The software service, which automatically detects bias and explains how AI makes decisions – as the decisions are being made – runs on the IBM Cloud to help organizations manage AI systems from a wide variety of industry players. IBM Services will also work with businesses to help them harness the new software service.

In addition, IBM Research will release into the open source community an AI bias detection and mitigation toolkit, bringing forward tools and education to encourage global collaboration around addressing bias in AI.

“IBM led the industry in establishing trust and transparency principles for the development of new AI technologies,” said David Kenny, SVP of Cognitive Solutions at IBM. “It’s time to translate principles into practice. We are giving new transparency and control to the businesses who use AI and face the most potential risk from any flawed decision making.”

These developments come on the back of new research by IBM’s Institute for Business Value, which reveals that while 82 percent of enterprises are considering AI deployments, 60 percent fear liability issues and 63 percent lack the in-house talent to confidently manage the technology.

Visibility into AI decisions
IBM’s new trust and transparency capabilities on the IBM Cloud work with models built from a wide variety of machine learning frameworks and AI-build environments such as Watson, Tensorflow, SparkML, AWS SageMaker, and AzureML. This means organizations can take advantage of these new controls for most of the popular AI frameworks used by enterprises.
The software service can also be programmed to monitor the unique decision factors of any business workflow, enabling it to be customized to the specific organizational use.

The fully automated software service explains decision-making and detects bias in AI models at runtime – as decisions are being made – capturing potentially unfair outcomes as they occur (View demo here). Importantly, it also automatically recommends data to add to the model to help mitigate any bias it has detected.

Explanations are provided in easy to understand terms, showing which factors weighted the decision in one direction vs. another, the confidence in the recommendation, and the factors behind that confidence. Also, the records of the model’s accuracy, performance and fairness, and the lineage of the AI systems, are easily traced and recalled for customer service, regulatory or compliance reasons – such as GDPR compliance.

All of these capabilities are accessed through visual dashboards, giving business users an unparalleled ability to understand, explain and manage AI-led decisions, and reducing dependency on specialized AI skills.

IBM is also making available new consulting services to help companies design business processes and human-AI interfaces to further minimize the impact of bias in decision making.

Empowering the open source community to build fairer AI
In addition, IBM Research is making available to the open source community the AI Fairness 360 toolkit – a library of novel algorithms, code, and tutorials that will give academics, researchers, and data scientists tools and knowledge to integrate bias detection as they build and deploy machine learning models. While other open-source resources have focused solely on checking for bias in training data, the IBM AI Fairness 360 toolkit created by IBM Research will help check for and mitigate bias in AI models. It invites the global open source community to work together to advance the science and make it easier to address bias in AI.

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Get your passwords in shape

New Year’s resolutions should extend to getting password protection sorted out, writes Carey van Vlaanderen, CEO at ESET Southern Africa.

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Many of us have entered the new year with a boat load of New Year’s resolutions.  Doing more exercise, fixing unhealthy eating habits and saving more money are all highly respectable goals, but could it be that they don’t go far enough in an era with countless apps and sites that scream for letting them help you reach your personal goals.

Now, you may want to add a few weightier and yet effortless habits on top of those well-worn choices. Here are a handful of tips for ‘exercises’ that will go good for your cyber-fitness.

I won’t pass up on stubborn passwords

Passwords have a bad rap, and deservedly so: they suffer from weaknesses, both in terms of security and convenience, that make them a less-than-ideal method of authentication.  However, much of what the internet offers is independent on your singing up for this or that online service, and the available form of authentication almost universally happens to the username/password combination.

As the keys that open online accounts (not to speak of many devices), passwords are often rightly thought of as the first – alas, often only – line of defence that protects your virtual and real assets from intruders. However, passwords don’t offer much in the way of protection unless, in the first place, they’re strong and unique to each device and account.

But what constitutes a strong password?  A passphrase! Done right, typical passphrases are generally both more secure and more user-friendly than typical passwords. The longer the passphrase and the more words it packs the better, with seven words providing for a solid start. With each extra character (not to mention words), the number of possible combinations rises exponentially, which makes simple brute-force password-cracking attacks far less likely to succeed, if not well-nigh impossible (assuming, of course, that the service in question does not impose limitations on password input length – something that is, sadly, far too common).

Click here to read about making secure passwords by not using dictionary words, using two-factor authentication, and how biometrics are coming to web browsers.

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Code Week prepares 2.3m young Africans for future

By SUNIL GENESS, Director Government Relations & CSR, Global Digital Government, at SAP Africa.

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On January 6th, 2019, news broke of South African President Cyril Ramaphosa’s plans to announce a new approach to education in his second State of the Nation address, including:

  • A universal roll-out of tablets for all pupils in the country’s 23 700 primary and secondary schools
  • Computer coding and robotics classes for the foundation-phase pupils from grade 1-3 and the
  • Digitisation of the entire curriculum, , including textbooks, workbooks and all teacher support material.

With this, the President has shown South Africa’s response to a global challenge: equipping our youth with the skills they’ll need to survive and thrive in the 21st century digital economy.

Africa’s working-age population will increase to 600 million in 2030 from a base of 370 million in 2010.

In South Africa, unemployment stands at 26.7 percent, but is much more pronounced among youths: 52.2 percent of the country’s 15-24-year-olds are looking for work.

As an organisation deeply invested in South Africa and its future, SAP has developed and implemented a range of initiatives aimed at fostering digital skills development among the country’s youth, including:

AFRICA CODE WEEK

Since its launch in 2015, Africa Code Week has introduced more than 4 million African youth to basic coding.

In 2018, more than 2.3 million youth across 37 countries took part in Africa Code Week.

The digital skills development initiative’s focus on building local capacity for sustainable learning resulted in close to 23 000 teachers being trained in the run-up to the October 2018 events.

Vital to the success of Africa Code Week is the close support it receives from a broad spectrum of public and private sector institutions, including UNESCO YouthMobile, Google, the German Federal Ministry for Economic Cooperation and Development (BMZ), the Cape Town Science Centre, the Camden Education Trust, 28 African governments, over 130 implementing partners and 120 ambassadors across the continent.

SAP’s efforts to drive digital skills development on the African continent forms part of a broader organisational commitment to the UN Sustainable Development Goals, specifically Goal 4 (“Ensure quality and inclusive education for all”)

A core component of Africa Code Week is to encourage female participation in STEM-related skills development activities: in 2018, more than 46% of all Africa Code Week participants were female.

According to Africa Code Week Global Coordinator Sunil Geness, female representation in STEM-related fields among African businesses currently stands at 30%, “requiring powerful public-private partnerships to start turning the tide and creating more equitable opportunities for African youth to contribute to the continent’s economic development and success”.

Click here to read more about the Skills for Africa graduate training programme, and about the LEGO League.

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