Links and Thinks: AI, EU and you

A blog by Ben Creet, posted on 13 June 2018.

Firstly, apologies for a messy few weeks without a links and thinks. We try to get one of these out most weeks, but I know it's been a few so humble apology on that one.

Now with that out of the way, let's talk AI, even more EU regulations and the sad state of patching in Drupal.


AI: the good, the bad, the ethical?

AI, it's so hot right now even Hansel doesn't stand a chance. There's been plenty of media about Google's recent decision to end an AI contract with the US DoD and here in NZ the Government is doing a stocktake of all the ways the States Services are using AI. Oh and Rod Oram's take on the AI Forum, and NZTech's recent report on AI in New Zealand, shows that we're not getting ready for AI fast enough.

It's really easy to get down and think that AI will be the end of us all so here's two links and resources for you to ponder. Google has recently published its AI Principles to guide their R&D and implementation of AI. The Principles are well worth a read but if you are interested in thinking about ethical AI, but don't have all that Youtube money that Google has, then you should check out the Toronto Declaration: Protecting the rights to equality and non-discrimination in machine learning systems. The Toronto Declaration was launched at RightsCon last month and sets out a series of commitments about AI and machine learning for States and organisations to sign up to.

EU's regulators mount up

Just as we're all still trying to figure out exactly how the GDPR is going to play out and what it means for NZ, the EU's legislators are working on two pieces of regulation of note: ePrivacy and new, tighter copyright rules that could kill memes (and much more).

ePrivacy is a set of rules focussed on email and online communications (e.g. video-conference and Voice-over-IP providers) that will mean they have to get consent to collect metadata, place tracking cookies and the like. Oh and if users do not consent, they still have to be offered the same services as those who say yes. It goes without saying, but there is a huge lobbying effort going on across Europe from the tech sector, and in particular the large online advertising platforms to fight this (no tracking or cookies reduces the ability to target ads).

Meanwhile, the EU's proposed Copyright Directive is facing a lot of opposition from digital rights groups due to what looks like a lack of flexible exceptions to enable remix and satire. With New Zealand's long awaited copyright review coming up later this year you can bet we're watching this one closely. 


Drupalgeddon2 still unpatched across the web


In March and April the maintainers of Drupal released some patches for some pretty nasty bugs - one even got the title Drupalgeddon2.

So now, some 10 weeks after the later of these two patches, some researchers have found that there are some 115,000 drupal sites that are not patched. That's… not good.

ArsTechnica have written a story about this research and while the Drupal maintainers have challenged the methodology used, this highlights the fact that fast, good patching is important. This is also a great opportunity to point out that patching is one of CERT NZ's Critical Controls, so don't take my word for it - patching is REALLY important.

So, if you use drupal for your website, best go check what version you use - you should be using either 7.59 or 8.5.4. If you aren't, talk to your IT team or website provider to get updated asap.

There you have it - plenty of links, a few thinks and hopefully, some things for you to ponder and read over a cup of warming tea.

Take care and have a great week!