Tag Archives: technology

Technology controls us, or we control it

By Hannah Kim

Staff Writer

Hello Summit News Readers!

My name is Hannah Kim, and, as a journalist for Summit News, I will focus on writing about an ever-changing field: technology.

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K2 junior Hannah Kim

Technology impacts us on a day-to-day basis. To learn, we utilize Summit’s PLP model (an online learning platform catered to help students learn independently and at their own pace); to keep in touch with friends, we can tap a few things on our phones to send a quick text message; to stay informed, we might turn to Google or a news app for instant notifications; to relax, we might browse on Netflix to binge watch TV shows for hours on end. The list goes on. 

As students who are living in a society where technology is ever-present, my goal is to write articles that will increase our awareness of it: the good, the bad, the known and unknown. Whether this means addressing the ways algorithms can increase our bias in politics, publishing articles about new innovation, or writing articles about the tips and tricks of technology that can be used to help a Summit student, it is vital for us to become technologically informed in order to better navigate the future of society. 

But why exactly is it vital? It seems like Gen Z folk understand how to use Google. It seems as if adjusting to the latest video game console or iOS update is not an arduous task. It would be safe to say that we are the most tech savvy generation of any other. So why is it crucial to be cognizant of technology when it seems as if we already know how to use it? Who can know the benefits and implications of technology better other than the ones who use it the most? 

The answer is simple: because technology is powerful. Technology either controls us, or we control it. I cannot stress the number of times I have seen students at Summit being captivated by the recommended videos suggested by their YouTube account. We become like robots, capable only of keeping our eyes open and clicking the mouse to watch the next video. Occasionally, we might exercise some brainpower to switch a tab when the teacher approaches too close. Is this the state-of-the-art education technology is providing us? Is this the way we learn to become independent, well-informed citizens? 

Technology is merely a tool. How we wield it depends on us. I hope that this column will provide insightful, thought-provoking content that can not only help readers become technologically informed, but also help them truly consider the effects it might have on their lives; the best way to respond; and the best way to stay in control. 

Residents of San Jose affected by Google’s plans to expand

By Polina Runova

Staff Editor

The company Plotter Pros resides in a building that doesn’t look like much from the outside. Its walls are a simple white, periodically coated in murals by graffiti artists. The whole building is located in a small alley off of the main street, Alameda, in downtown San Jose.

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The building home to Plotter Pros looks plain and ordinary from the outside. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Despite its plain appearance, it turns out the building has more to it than meets the eye. Peter Inshaw, president of Plotter Pros explained that the building “was actually a community center. It was built in the 30s as a roller rink. It’s been a bunch of things that involve the city.”

Plotter Pros, a commercial printing company, is only one of the downtown businesses that might be affected by Google’s expansion in the area. Concerns include rent increases, displacement, and possible loss of valuable buildings.

Today, the building in question is not only home to the company Plotter Pros but also a studio that Mr. Inshaw rents out to artists. He believes the building has done enough for the community to be considered of historical value.

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Peter Inshaw, president of Plotter Pros PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

At first Mr. Inshaw had thought that it would be preserved, as “it’s a historical building.” Now he believes this is not the case. “Other historical buildings are being levelled,” he said, mentioning another building that has been around since the 1800s. Today it is a “big hole in the ground.”

Despite his concerns, Mr. Inshaw believes that Google’s expansion might bring benefits as well. “The good part is that it’s revitalizing downtown, which has been stagnant with no plan,” he said. “Actually connecting all the transit has been something a long time coming.”

Referring to both unprotected historical buildings and rent increases, Mr Inshaw said he remains unsure about whether the benefits of the downtown remodel will outweigh the negatives.“I just don’t know the long-term cost of it.”

Although not many people besides Mr. Inshaw expressed a concern for historical buildings, many share a worry about rent. “Those are probably the two biggest concerns,” Mr. Inshaw said. “We lose the building, or can’t afford to be here.”

Google plans to move into downtown San Jose

Nanci Klein is San Jose’s Director of Real Estate and Assistant Director of Economic Development. She explained that Google’s plans for San Jose include “up to 6.5 million square feet of office development,” as well as “a range of housing units.” She added that Google intends to provide amenities, not just office space, in order to make downtown San Jose an area where people can work, live and engage in recreational activities.

Ms. Klein said that “San Jose wants both jobs and housing” and that Google is willing to help provide both. “Many cities have 2.5 to 3 jobs to employed residents. San Jose is approximately 0.76 jobs to employed ratio,” Ms. Klein said. That is an issue that the city hopes to fix through their collaboration with Google.

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The need to commute in order to go to work puts more cars on the road. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Ms. Klein explained that there are several negatives that come with San Jose’s lack of jobs. People need to commute in order to go to work, which “puts a lot of people on the roads, and creates more greenhouse gasses.” Giving people work near the place they live would benefit the environment.

Additionally, Ms. Klein said, “There’s a lot of benefit and quality of life for people working closer to where they live.” She explained, “If you just have office [space] and everyone leaves at 6 or 7 in the evening, it’s pretty quiet. But if you have a mix of uses, which incorporate jobs and residential, it can be very, very lively.”

There are still several things that need to happen before Google can start breaking ground. “There is an entitlement process, which we hope will be completed by the end of 2020. Then there will be the process of design and building permits,” Ms. Klein said. She added that this estimate could change, depending on the economic state of the country. “Things can be approved, but if the community, the United States, or the world is in a down trend, that will potentially limit what time frame is needed for beginning construction.”

Ms. Klein said that, for the past years, it has been difficult for the city to “provide fundamental services to our residents and our businesses.” The city of San Jose is hoping that working with Google will help to “provide as much equitable development and quality mobility, to have the array of jobs, to make them available to San Jose residents,” Ms. Klein explained, adding that, “It’s a really important part of our economy and community.”

People of downtown react to Google’s plans to expand

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Denise Luna, manager of Babe’s Mufflers and Brakes PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Denise Luna is a manager of an auto repair business called Babe’s Muffler and Brakes. Ms. Luna is new to the area, and has heard “little” about Google’s plans to expand. “I just heard the rents might go up,” Ms. Luna said. “Around here, they are already expensive as it is.” Although not terribly worried about her business’ displacement, Ms. Luna has noticed that some people were “already moving out.” She added “that right there, could affect our business, because we get a lot of people who live around here to do business with us. They move out – there goes our business.”

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Eric Johnson, owner of Recycle Bookstore PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Others are hoping that, on the contrary, Google’s expansion will bring about more jobs and opportunities for business. Eric Johnson is the owner of a bookshop called Recycle Bookstore. Mr. Johnson is expecting that the expansion will bring more activity to downtown San Jose. “The more density you have, the more activity you have,” Mr. Johnson said. “And that tends to be, on the whole, a good thing.”

Mr. Johnson has also noticed the increase in rents, but he hopes Google will also bring an increase in business, which will allow him and others to cover the increasing rents. “Sometimes a small business can pay a little more rent, it depends on whether or not the area increases the business at all.”

Google’s expansion has already affected other cities

Google first came to Mountain View when it leased office space from SGI’s campus, back in 2003. The campus was purchased a couple years later, and then transformed into Google’s corporate headquarters, Googleplex. When the plans for Google’s expansion in Mountain View were first suggested, people had mixed feelings about this development. Some were hoping for more business, while other feared rising housing prices and displacement. Now, roughly fifteen years later, local businesses confirm that Googleplex came as a mixed package.

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Mountain View is home to Google’s corporate headquarters. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

The Google campus is pristine. The trees are aligned; the hedges are trimmed; and the sidewalks are clean. Everything appears to be taken care of. Nearby, a construction site is fenced off where Google is working on another building. However, just a few streets down, everything looks different.

Smaller businesses, while agreeing that Google has brought some benefits, admit that many people are now struggling to keep up with rising rent prices. Some businesses have trouble finding new employees, as many people have been forced to move because of the rising rent prices.

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Joy McCarthy, manager of The Maids PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

“Finding employees is very difficult,” Joy McCarthy said. “They can’t find housing in the area.” Joy McCarthy runs a cleaning service called The Maids. It is a family business, currently owned by her mother. Ms. McCarthy, in addition to running The Maids, is also a renter. As a result of Google’s expansion, Ms. McCarthy notices that “rents have definitely climbed significantly.”

Concerns with housing seems to exist all around town. A local business owner, who asked to remain anonymous, said that small companies like his family business are less and less likely to be able to “afford to work our family business in the area”. These are people who have been in Mountain View for ages. “I’m born and raised here, so I’ve been here almost 40 years, and I’ve absolutely seen a major change. My father’s been here 65 years, and he can obviously tell you times have changed.”

Although the family business has been in the area for what can seem like forever, it is possible they might have to leave the area because of the rise in rent pricing. “Major developers see more value in retail office space, or commercial office space, vs warehouse space,” the family business owner said. “Small companies like myself, we rely on being able to operate in a warehouse capacity.” This is why the owner foresees that they “will likely be forced to move within the next three or four years.”

Not everything people say about Google is negative, however. “As a matter of fact, we do work for Google. When Google buys some of these buildings here and in the peninsula area, we are hoping that we get contracted to go do some of that flooring work,” the family business owner said. “So there is benefit in providing when they’re building new homes, when they’re building new office space. It is bringing more job opportunities to those local businesses.”

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Omega Printing is a commercial printing company in Mountain View. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Another local business says they got more good out of Google’s expansion than bad. Omega Printing is a commercial printing company, located nearby Googleplex. Jesselyn Hernandez, a graphic designer at Omega Printing said “for us, we’re printers, so it’s actually a positive, because the new starter companies, we start printing for them.” She added that once these startup companies, “start growing bigger and bigger, they go somewhere else because we’re this small little business”.

Google’s expansion in Mountain View has indeed been attracting many beginning companies to the area, and in this way provides business for the local companies. Ms. McCarthy agreed that every now and then there’d be “a little more business from people moving in and out.”

“It depends on who you ask,” Ms. Hernandez said. She explained that, overall, there are both benefits and negatives to Google’s expansion. “For us, like I said, the pros are overcoming the cons. For new people, that are coming into the city, I would gauge more negatives.” 

Google’s plans to expand in San Jose affecting Willow Glen

Although Google’s expansion is going to take place in downtown San Jose, the indirect impact could be felt all the way in Willow Glen.

Mark Larson, a film history teacher at Santa Clara University, lives a 15-minute walk from downtown Willow Glen. He brought up the idea that Google’s expansion will bring about a change in the community’s mindset.

Willow Glen hasn’t been affected by “anything that they’ve done concretely, of course, because no one’s broken any ground or anything,” Mr. Larson said. However, Mr. Larson added, “I think it’s the psychological effect, where this giant company comes into your town and sort of starts taking it over. I think that affects how you think, and the space that you live in, and the idea of community.”

Mr. Larson suggests that whenever a big company such as Google comes to a community, many things change. “You lose the character; you lose the history; you lose the small businesses that can’t keep up; or you lose the employees for your restaurant or for your little shop that you’re trying to run because they can’t afford to live in the community.”

Mr. Larson explained that, once Google moves in, whenever he goes to the Diridon train station in downtown San Jose, he’ll “have to walk through their whole campus, their whole corporate headquarters, just to go to the train.” Mr. Larson feels downtown San Jose will become a completely different place. “I won’t be in San Jose; I’ll be in Google Land.”

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A sign with the words ‘Google Glen’ was put up in Willow Glen. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Larson

It appears downtown San Jose isn’t the only place where Google is making its presence known. “Here in Willow Glen, where we live, we’re famous for our nice little downtown, Lincoln Avenue, where all the shops are,” Mr. Larson said. Recently, however, there’s been a change.“We saw this sign that went up, put up by Google, saying ‘Google Glen’,” Mr. Larson said. He feels that Google is “putting their imprint on our little community here, our little neighborhood. And that’s upsetting because you want to have your own identity, whatever we decided we wanted to be.”

Mr. Larson added that although the mental effect is the most prominent one, there are other concerns in the Willow Glen area as well. “We do rent our home, and we’re absolutely scared out of our wits that our landlords will sell the house because of the Google effect,” Mr. Larson said. If that were to happen, he fears he and his family would “ have to move somewhere.” Mr. Larson explained, “That’s happened to so many people that we know; you hear about it on the news. We’re very scared of that, and we’ve never had to worry about that before.”

Local news stories support Mr. Larson’s story. For example, the Mercury News reported that about a year ago, Decron Properties, a real estate investment firm, bought an apartment complex in Willow Glen. Mercury News wrote, that because of increasing prices in the housing market, “apartments are becoming increasingly attractive alternatives.”

The apartment complex is only “a short rail ride from Google’s proposed transit village in the downtown area.” Mercury News reported that David Nagel, president of Decron Properties, said “The proposed Google campus was a compelling reason for us and our investors to acquire this well-located property.” It appears Google’s expansion is affecting the decisions of other large companies, even those located away from downtown San Jose.

“I really don’t have a solution to it,” Mr. Larson admitted. However, he did say, “I think one thing that would help, though, is if people had more of an awareness for their community, about the impact it might have, for their own sense of identity.” Mr. Larson believes it’s important to keep the people informed. Sometimes communities “get very excited about stuff like this,” Mr. Larson said. “I think they rush too quickly into accepting it.”

Changes await Downtown San Jose

“There are going to be so many changes that come,” Ms. Klein said. She anticipates new amenities and resources to come into the area “in terms of retail, in terms of BART, in terms of additional streetscape, additional places for people to gather,” as well as “jobs, housing, and affordable housing.”

“It might pretty much upscale the area,” Mr. Johnson, owner of the Recycle Bookstore said. “The fear would be that smaller businesses that survive on slightly lower rents might be priced out of the area.”

Mr. Johnson also said, ”You have development and it tends to uplift America sometimes as well.” He can imagine both positive and negative outcomes from Google’s expansions. “It’s kind of up to the city to kind of balance and see what the effect on the community is going to be,” he said.

Ms. Klein agrees, that the city has “the opportunity and the responsibility to do it in a way that is positive for the community.” She added that the city hopes “to mitigate and minimize any potential negative impacts from the project.”

For example, Ms. Klein brought up that “there is very much a concern that bringing 20 to 25 thousand additional people down to San Jose can cause pressure.” Many people are expected to come into the area Google plans to move into. “It’s an interesting statistic that was shared with me recently, “Ms. Klein said. “The number of people that are projected to go through Diridon [in one day] by, say, 2040 will be the same number that go to the San Francisco Airport in a day.”

The general increase of activity in San Jose means there are going to be “more people who want to be in the area, who are willing to pay more for houses and/or rental apartments in the area,” Klein said. “City of San Jose is paying a lot of attention to issues relating to any potential displacement.”

Ms. Klein adds that there is a big difference between Google’s Mountain View expansion and Google’s San Jose expansion. “In Mountain View they are very much a campus,” Klein said. “In San Jose we are working with them to be integrated into the city and that will make a tremendous amount of difference into what is created.”

Ms. Klein explains that the city is trying to protect both the people, and the culture of the city. This includes buildings in the area. “In San Jose, like many other places, there are buildings which are landmarks which will absolutely be retained,” she said.

She also added that some buildings, might be “adapted” into the developing area. For example, “there are buildings where only what is retained are the facades, so that the building can be redone to make it much more efficient,” while “in some instances there is development over those buildings, so you have what’s referred to as air rights,” Ms. Klein said.

Ms. Klein explained that this is “not because of the Google project, but just part of regular development considerations,” and that similar remodeling is happening “in many, many cities throughout the country”.

There might be many changes coming to San Jose, but Ms. Klein believes the city will keep it’s own cultural personality throughout the development. “San Jose is blessed with a wide ranging diversity, and that’s the kind of city that we want to continue to be,” she said.

“I am personally not terribly worried about this.” Mr. Johnson said. “Cautiously optimistic, let’s put it that way.”

“People will adjust and figure it out,” Mr. Inshaw, president of Plotter Pros, added. The community of downtown San Jose is “just kind of waiting to see,” he said. “It’s years away, but it’s already having an effect.”

Feature Image (at the top of this post): A street going through the Google Campus in Mountain View is labeled Google. PHOTO CREDIT: Polina Runova

Students put skills to the test in the new Robot Games

By Kamal Lakisic and Saad Qazi

Staff Writers

As the school year comes to a close, a new style of learning is just beginning. The robotics program at Summit Public Schools is seeing a new development under Sherri Taylor, the Robotics course instructor across four Summit campuses.

Throughout the past year, students have been experiencing an in-depth program meant to develop skills in fluently combining programs — EV3 and Python — with machines made out of Legos in order to complete set tasks. This ability is developed over the course, and, by the end of the year, most students will have developed an aptitude for robotics.

“I think it’s really important that students have the opportunity to use their whole self when they learn something,” Ms. Taylor said.

Denali freshman Ibrahim Ayub said students have learned how to program robots using EV3 software, as well as learning other important programming concepts. “We also learned to never give up,” he added.

Beyond individual skills, students also developed abilities critical to their end goals, such as teamwork. “I like how the students have learned to collaborate better and resolve conflicts … and develop empathy and patience for students … they really want to engineer robots,” Ms. Taylor said.

These students don’t just take these skills home. The Robot Games, an inter-school event created by Ms. Taylor, will test the designing, programming and teamwork abilities of each school. Classes will be grouped into teams and put their robots to the test. “It’s kind of like a take-off of the Olympics … students provide a game that other robots could play … another school could actually recreate their game,” she said.

Demos will measure their robots’ efficiency and effectiveness. Points will be gained based off the success of the robot in a certain game and its ability to be emulated by other schools. “Then the original inventors get points, and the students that do it in the second school also get points,” Ms. Taylor said. Exemplifying the idea of teamwork, this new method hopes to accelerate the robotics program and students’ progress.

Students themselves have also weighed their development, a point made clear by Ayub who discussed the benefits of learning through collaboration. “All of our projects involve teamwork … at first me and my partner didn’t work together, but we learned to share work … When one person builds, and the other programs … that helps,” he said.

The Robot Games competition will build over each successive run, allowing schools to improve on their prior years and effectively compete with other schools’ teams. Signifying a major shift in Expeditions’ impact on students, the establishment and development of Robot Games over the next few years will foster a new perspective on learning through collaboration — a method that could better develop interest in engineering and programming in students throughout coming years.

See below for a video on the Robotics course and the Robot Games:

AI can both catch and create fake news

By Avi Mehra

Staff Writer, Founder and President of AI Club at Summit Tahoma

In the past few years, a new scam on Instagram has taken off in popularity. Accounts act as if they are affiliated with major—often fashion—companies and claim to be recruiting a small amount of young people, offering to give them free clothes, photo shoots and compensation in exchange for their actions. They are asked to share a post by the account, which is later sold to businesses due to the high amount of followers that the recruit has accrued. These accounts often have highly apparent mistakes or discrepancies that reveal that they are not authentic; yet, within a short period of time, these posts can become so popular and the accounts so high in followers that the companies being imitated take note and call out the scams.

kenleigh muller @KenleighM 13 Dec 2018: Ik I’m only supposed to post this on insta but like omgggg @lululemon I love you and it would truly be an honor lululemon Verified account @lululemon Replying to @KenleighM 13 Dec 2018: While we're not associated with this account, we're always stoked to meet driven athletes and inspirational people who harness their passion to elevate their communities. Pop by your local store to learn what opportunities are available.

@lululemon responds to a screenshot of an account impersonating them. GRAPHIC CREDIT: Twitter

 

The enormous volume and extensive reach of these fake accounts highlights an ever-growing issue in today’s highly connected digital world: fake news.

Fake news and misinformation have led to death threats toward innocent citizens and have even influenced political decisions. Often times, internet users don’t have the time or capacity to determine whether or not content is authentic.

Summit Tahoma sophomore Isaiah Kemp explained how he defends himself from misinformation: “There’s a lot of sources that are saying that it’s like … it’s like it’s fake and then you can expose that it’s fake.” He said that we can trust the sources that are claiming that the other is fake “because there’s a lot of them; plus the ones that I have mostly checked for like sports and stuff, like they’re all reliable.”

 

Julian Medellin, a sophomore at Summit Tahoma, also explained the methods he uses to detect and counter fake news. “I check to see if there is an author, the date, and then make sure that it’s not on Wikipedia or anything,” he responded. “A lot of times those sources aren’t really reliable. A lot of times there’s people’s opinions.”

 

Medellin has a different strategy to ensure that content on social media platforms is fair and authentic: “I mean, I’m pretty sure you can tell when something’s been made up or something has been made up. So, you know, you just use your own judgment.”

The inadequate ability of students to verify the authenticity of information has given rise to tools and utilities that make predictions about digital content. Web of Trust is an extension for multiple major browsers. It has an icon that is displayed in the browser and on results from major search engines. The icon has 4 possible colors: green, yellow, red and grey. The color of the icon depends on how secure the extension predicts the site to be, where green represents high confidence in security and grey represents there not being enough data to determine a rating. Information is received from both users of the extension and many trusted databases, such as PhishTank (which is operated by cybersecurity company Cisco). Implicit in how Web of Trust predicts security is how confident it is in the information. However, Web of Trust was not designed to combat fake news, but there are other tools that were specifically designed to solve that problem.

NewsGuard is a similar extension that attempts to verify the credibility of a website. The rating process for NewsGuard is entirely determined by their employees. This brings about issues of bias. Most of the reviews on the Chrome Web Store listing are negative and cite extreme political bias and misrepresentations of credibility. It is also not well-executed from a technical design perspective, as websites can have many subdomains and even pages with different levels of authenticity. Also, the fact that this is all done by employees limits the amount of detail that the extension can provide.

So here’s the question: if people don’t take the time to thoroughly fact-check the content that they see, and common tools don’t help, how can fake news and misinformation be prevented? A common thought is that fake or misleading content can get filtered out. Due to the sheer scale of the amount of information posted to websites on the internet, this task could not be done entirely by human moderators. A possible solution: AI.

Can AI solve the fake news epidemic?

AI, or artificial intelligence, is a general term encompassing all situations where machines exhibit some sort of intelligence or intelligent properties. The uses of artificial intelligence are wide-ranging and comprehensive; AIs can be used in playing chess or predicting stock market trends. In combating fake news, artificial intelligences usually need to “read” a text and understand it. This falls under a subfield of AI called natural language processing—understanding human language.

So can AI filter fake news? Yes, it can. Through tools such as machine learning, a subfield of AI where machines are trained and progressively learn to perform tasks, artificial intelligences can recognize patterns in news content that humans would not even be able to notice. In fact, Facebook is already using an AI to prevent the spread of fake news, but they have also hired and contracted fact-checkers. Limiting the spread of fake news is not the only solution that prevents fake news; misinformation can also be prevented by automatically flagging content as fake or by blocking it from being publicly posted.

The detection of fake news is a process akin to detecting email spam: a task that has already proven solvable with many effective methods from the likes of Google. Google software can also detect spam in text messages and even spam phone calls (without even hearing the call). However, as of now, the fake news detection technology is not nearly as effective as that of spam prediction and detection.

In 2017, the Fake News Challenge held a competition to create the best AI that can determine whether or not an article’s content agreed with its title. Participants were only allowed 48 hours to construct their whole artificial intelligence and publish their results. They were also restricted to only training their models using data provided by the FNC. The results of the competition show that the technology still needs development; although given the restrictions and limitations that would not be present in the real world, the technology looks promising.

In addition to companies like Facebook that are trying to develop AIs for their own use, other companies are looking to design and implement fake news detection and prevention AIs. One such example is London-based startup Fabula AI. They have “developed (and patented) Geometric Deep Learning – the first AI technology able to learn from social networks.”

However, using AI will not solve the fake news epidemic. Although they might limit the amount of naive and amateur misinformation, AI fake news detectors will almost certainly cause more problems than they solve.

Why might AI be ineffective against fake news?

AI almost entirely falls into two general categories: learning and non-learning. Non-learning AIs are still intelligent, but their procedures are programmed by the developers. When they make predictions, they need to run through that algorithm for each prediction made. Learning AIs, called machine learning models, get trained on data, and the AI learns its patterns. Then, when making predictions, the AI works extremely efficiently and delivers an answer in almost real time.

Machine learning models allow artificial intelligences to come up with generalizations and methods that humans could never generate. Non-learning AIs, however, require the human programmers to know exactly the best way to do a certain task. Obviously, due to the nuances, intricacies, and depth of language, fake news detectors must be machine learning models.

As such, the models need a lot of training data. The researchers and developers who make the models need to have hundreds of thousands or more examples of both fake news and real news, in addition to (for most models) a label for each (a label is a value specifying the accuracy of the text).

Often times, this data is difficult to obtain. It can be obtained from known credible and fake news sources. However, since it is copyrighted content, the developers would need permission from all of the sources. Especially for the fake news sources, it seems unlikely that they would consent to having their content used in training the AI.

Using known data is also very limiting. It restricts the model to only learning the patterns of modern fake news and not new styles of fake news that might develop. Also, since the models are not training on the best fake news, only the sources that they know are fake and have permission to use, it would assume all well-written articles are credible. This method also assumes that sources are always true or always fake, which is not accurate.

Another solution is using data created by the general public from sources such as social media posts. These seem like very good supplements to the published news sources. In fact, social media posts will be one of the most prominent uses of this AI.

What are the data validity and security concerns?

Using social media sources has a different issue: ownership rights. Some people would certainly protest against their data being used for training an AI that limits content that they like. If their data is not included, fake news becomes underrepresented in the training data, leading to the model detecting fake news less than it should (this is called a lack of the IID condition).

People might even claim that their data (sometimes private, even if posted publicly) gets memorized by the AI and can theoretically get extracted through its predictions. This is an possible issue that can occur when certain pieces of training data are very specific during machine learning; the model cannot generalize certain patterns and rather ends up memorizing confidential information. This is what led Google to create TensorFlow Privacy. TensorFlow is a machine learning platform that was created and used internally by Google (one of the companies with the most advanced AI software) and made public on Nov. 9, 2015. On March 6, 2019, Google released TensorFlow 2.0, which includes TensorFlow Privacy. TensorFlow Privacy uses a statistical technique known as differential privacy to ensure  that specific details are not memorized. Differential privacy was already being used by companies working with sensitive data; now it is very easy for even the average developer to implement.

In addition to the privacy concerns in training the model, there are even more concerns with using the model. One issue is whether or not data is stored after running the model on it. This should not be a concern, though, because the data is clearly being stored anyway. The concern is with the general data storage and the platform, not the AI. This could, theoretically, be a concern if used to determine fake news in text messages, but not only is this a limited use case, there are very simple ways to audit the providers that are offering such predictive services.

Why is AI so controversial?

People say that using AI to block fake news is censorship that infringes on their right to free speech. In a limited scope, this is true. However, there will always be a market for platforms without fake news censorship. That is the very nature of capitalist economies. The government is not engaging in the censorship, certain platforms are. Platforms are not mandated to engage in misinformation prevention, just as platforms are not mandated to make their content free with advertisements; companies have choice in their business model. Also, any attempt at blocking fake news can be seen and interpreted as censorship. To a limited degree, censorship is necessary.

A clear counterargument to the argument of censorship is the right to the truth. Per the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, people have a right to knowing the truth. Not limiting fake news is a violation of this right. Allowing fake news means allowing propaganda: corporate, personal and political. It can be said that it is the duty of corporations and those with advanced technologies to provide systems where people can converse and communicate, sharing information without a significant risk of falsified statements.

What are the implications of using AI systems?

However, this is definitely not possible. There will always be some fake content that won’t get filtered. There will always be a risk of inaccurate information.

Once a good AI system is implemented, most of the fake content will get filtered. This will lead to people having even more trust in the content that is shown to them, and people will fact check even less than they currently do. People will develop overconfidence in the authenticity of the information. Some content will slip through the filters. A huge market will be created around making fake content that passes through the system. This content is much more likely to be believed than fake news is now. The implications of this would be huge.

The AI might also be accidentally or intentionally biased towards certain types of fake content (ex. if left-wing propaganda is okay in moderation, but right-wing — even true content — gets blocked).

How is fake news technology advancing?

New technologies are entering the market which can create hyper-realistic fake news works. We have had “fake news generators” for a while now. Users can enter a headline, and the generator creates an image that looks like the coverage of a television news show. These are very easy to prove as fake, as they all look very similar, and one can just search the headline. These are not often used for malicious purposes, rather they are used for internet memes, yet they still fool millions.

Break Your Own News is one of many “fake news generators.” GRAPHIC CREDIT: https://breakyourownnews.com/

In addition to these generic image modifiers, we have sophisticated technologies with huge potential of being used maliciously. There is a breaking AI that generates actual, good quality articles with completely false information, and people cannot tell it apart from real news.

 

OpenAI, an AI research company backed by Elon Musk, has developed an artificial intelligence that generates fake or artificial text from a short prompting text. The model, called GPT-2, can generate fake articles that are virtually indistinguishable in style and structure from professionally-written and even accredited news articles.

To prove how effective GPT-2 is, OpenAI released a few outputs of the AI to the public. When prompted with the two sentences:

A train carriage containing controlled nuclear materials was stolen in Cincinnati today. Its whereabouts are unknown.

the model wrote:

The incident occurred on the downtown train line, which runs from Covington and Ashland stations.

In an email to Ohio news outlets, the U.S. Department of Energy said it is working with the Federal Railroad Administration to find the thief.

“The theft of this nuclear material will have significant negative consequences on public and environmental health, our workforce and the economy of our nation,” said Tom Hicks, the U.S. Energy Secretary, in a statement. “Our top priority is to secure the theft and ensure it doesn’t happen again.”

The stolen material was taken from the University of Cincinnati’s Research Triangle Park nuclear research site, according to a news release from Department officials.

The Nuclear Regulatory Commission did not immediately release any information.

According to the release, the U.S. Department of Energy’s Office of Nuclear Material Safety and Security is leading that team’s investigation.

“The safety of people, the environment and the nation’s nuclear stockpile is our highest priority,” Hicks said. “We will get to the bottom of this and make no excuses.”

In addition to news and articles, the OpenAI model can also generate stories, essays and speeches. When given the prompt:

Recycling is good for the world.

NO! YOU COULD NOT BE MORE WRONG!!

the model generated the text:

Recycling is NOT good for the world. It is bad for the environment, it is bad for our health, and it is bad for our economy. I’m not kidding. Recycling is not good for the environment. It is destructive to the earth and it is a major contributor to global warming. Recycling is not good for our health. It contributes to obesity and diseases like heart disease and cancer. Recycling is bad for our economy. It increases the cost of a product, and in turn, the price of everything that is made with that product. Recycling is not good for our nation. We pay a tremendous price for the privilege of having the world’s most advanced and efficient recycling system. Recycling is a huge, colossal waste of time, energy, money, and resources. And THAT is why we need to get back to basics and get back to basics in our recycling efforts. One of the best ways to start is to look at the process of creating a paper product. When you make a paper product, it is basically a long chain of materials. Everything from the raw materials (wood, cardboard, paper, etc.), to the reagents (dyes, solvents, etc.) to the printing equipment (chemicals, glue, paper, ink, etc.), to the packaging, to the packaging materials (mercury, chemicals, etc.) to the processing equipment (heating, cooling, etc.), to the packaging materials, to the packaging materials that are shipped overseas and to the packaging materials that are used in the United States. Each step along the way creates tons of waste that we constantly have to clean up. The process of making a paper product is a very wasteful one. But the end result is something that all of us need to consume. And if we want to keep the recycling process running efficiently, then we really need to think about each and every step that goes into making a paper product.

The model is so effective, and its implications in misinformation are so extreme, that OpenAI has refused to make the model public. OpenAI’s concerns, though, go deeper than fake news. GPT-2, if made public, could be used for impersonations, spam and even obscure uses like overly-realistic satire. However, it might not be all bad for GPT-2. OpenAI has taught it to summarize, answer comprehension questions on, and resolve ambiguous pronouns in passages. It has even been trained to translate texts. OpenAI’s GPT-2 might be an AI that can assist in detecting fake news, though no AI should be relied on entirely for tasks like that.

Fake text and prose generators are not the only technologies that can add to the fake news crisis. Deep video portraits are a technology that allows a user to emulate their facial expression on the face of some other person. Jordan Peele, together with Buzzfeed, used this technology to make it appear that former President Barack Obama was making comments on “Black Panther” and sitting President Donald Trump. Although the video component generated itself, Peele still had to write and voice the audio component. However, he didn’t need to.

Given just a few minutes worth of audio from a certain person, the free and public software Lyrebird can generate an audio clip of the person saying the contents of a text. This script could be generated from other AIs such as GPT-2, and an entirely fake (and quite believable) video of any person could be generated just from a seed sentence.

Charlie Warzel from Buzzfeed trained Lyrebird on his own voice, allowing Lyrebird to generate audio similar in sound to his speech. Warzel then called his mom, and attempted to fool her into believing that the audio was truly himself. When his mom was finally informed that the audio was not him, she expressed how realistic the generated audio sounded: “I never doubted for a second that it was you.”

How can fake news target specific users?

There is also a risk of targeted fake news to individuals. People can be intentionally exposed to fake content and misinformation that they are determined to be more susceptible to.

Certain apps, without apparent affiliation with Facebook, have been sending user data (including app usage data) to Facebook, without user permission (or knowledge). Once the app is opened, the user tracking and data sending has begun. This happens even if the user is not signed in to Facebook and even if the user does not have a Facebook account. All of this data is personalized; Facebook knows from which person each packet of data arrived. Also, even without a Facebook account, Facebook knows who a person is by their unique ID (possibly a Google advertising ID) and can connect users between apps. Facebook knows exactly what you, personally, are doing at any point in time, and there is no reason any other app or company cannot do this. Then, the company that receives the data (in this case Facebook) can make their app extremely targeted and show you fake news that you are more prone to believe. In fact, Facebook is already doing this.

What can we do?

There exists no perfect solution that allows content consumers to have no risk of being exposed to misinformation. Our fake news problems aren’t going anywhere. We all need to remain vigilant on the Internet as misinformation technology progresses. Although it’s not practical for everybody to extensively fact check every single fact that they come across, if there is a statutory or shared-fate risk from misinformation, users should ensure that the data is fair, factual and accurate.

The Discord community is unique and diverse

By Charles Cassel, Mark Haiko and Soren Ryan-Jensen

Staff Writers

Louis Parks’ first experience with Discord was a few years ago in the summer of 2016, around one year after Discord’s release, when a few of his friends on Skype were urging him to make a Discord account. At first, he didn’t switch, but a few days later the peer pressure from everybody else switching had convinced him to try it out. After a few days of usage, he had adjusted to Discord and preferred the cleaner application over Skype. At this time, the only chats he was in were with friends who played Minecraft with him. At first, he didn’t really use it, but now he uses daily.

Discord is a chatting platform developed by Discord Inc that fills in for many roles. Other platforms that are similar are Skype, Teamspeak, and, most similar, Slack. Discord was made and is primarily for gamers and by gamers. Unlike Slack, Discord has voice chat and programmable bots that can do everything from moderating to playing music.

In Discord, you can call people personally or start group calls, but its main feature is the servers. Anyone can get up and host a Discord server where they can invite their friends. In these servers you can have multiple text and voice channels, as well as roles and bots. In the channels you can chat with people with either speech, text, or images.

This is a small list of text channels.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko
This shows two people having a conversation in General Banter. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Our server is called the “Cereal Bowl.” We are comprised of around 80 people from various places and backgrounds. We were formed on July 3, 2017, after Steam chat didn’t work for us. It started with only two people, and it has since risen up to 80 people actively playing and talking to each other.

This shows the layout of Discord. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

An example is a group of around 10 people running a clan for the game known as Rust. They used the Discord server to organize in-game raids and events, and they would use the server’s voice chat to communicate important information like player location and amount of materials needed. Discord was an integral part of this.

This is a chat used for Rust. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Another instance of Discord’s use is for Counter-Strike Global Offensive, abbreviated CSGO. People on the server used Discord to help them organize games and used it for callouts and formulating tactics. CSGO is a highly competitive game, where being able to speak to your team in really important; but, even though the game has an in-game chat, Discord was used to a greater extent and to greater efficiency.

Discord is highly used by gamers for its great versatility and easy accessibility. Unlike Teamspeak, you don’t have to do anything at all to host a server in which to chat, except for starting up the server (unlike most Discord-like apps, where you either host a server from your computer or you pay a company to host for you). But Discord’s ease of access and the servers being free were the main reasons people jumped ship for Discord.

This shows a small group of people who inhabit the server.
PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

People also use Discord for general chatting and banter. Since you can join a call at any time and people can see you in the call, they might also join in and start chatting. A lot of people in the “Cereal Bowl” usually join in a voice chat and talk about anything they feel about it. Sometimes they talk about school, what they did over the week, or just talk about things that seem relevant at the time.

This is an example of a person using images to communicate. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Our Discord server is quite diverse. We have people from the United States, to the Middle East, and even Japan. Almost everyone on the server speaks more than one language, usually having English as their main language. Out of the people we surveyed, only one out of the nine people didn’t speak a second language.

An example of diversity is Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth. He is a German-American living in Tennessee, who speaks both German and English. Another example is Jens Berg, who is a German-Chinese-American; he speaks English to others, but to his parents he speaks either German or Chinese, depending on which parent he is speaking to, and he is also learning Spanish.

When surveying the people on the server, we also noticed that everyone knew English, and when looking even deeper and looking at everyone in the Discord, all of them speak English, even if they live in Belarus or Japan. People in countries where English isn’t really common still spoke English.

Many different people had many different starts in Discord. There was Louis Parks, who was mentioned at the start of the article, who started using Discord after all of his friends started moving to it instead of using the more popular app at the time, Skype. A similar situation happened to Vadim Fedorov, who moved to Discord after having a large amount of his friends move to Discord.

This shows Bageldorf sharing memes in Meme Hub 2, the reason he made the Cereal Bowl. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

A few other examples are when Steven Johnson’s friends “introduced it to me, and we spent the day just sending memes to each other because we had nothing better to do” or Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth, who joined a Discord server with his clan called “LOST.”

There are also a few other instances, but most people started doing Discord after their friends decided to stop using another app for voicechat at the time and switch to Discord; therefore, the person would feel uneasy not using Discord when everyone else was using it, so they would also start using Discord instead. With this process, a large amount of people started using Discord because their friends have them make the switch, and, with that, most of the voicechatting community started using Discord.

Using Discord allows people to communicate to groups that in other cases they couldn’t reach before. For example, our source Charles Derrick  William Bailey the Fourth stated, “I had a hard time with learning the genitive der, die, das, den, and Discord helped me by allowing me to join German servers and talk to people. Also I can talk to friends that are learning German and help them.”

Another example comes from Steven Johnson, who also echoed this statement, saying, “It is difficult to learn Spanish because it’s a lot of memorizing conjunctions and words, Discord helped me because some of my friends speak only Spanish or mainly Spanish at their homes so I was able to learn Spanish better from them.”

As we can see from these statements, Discord can help people learn more languages because it makes it easier to reach people who know those languages. People also use Discord for other things; our source Taehui uses Discord to “communicate with majority of friends (both IRL and online).”

In addition, almost all people interviewed used the word “communicate” or “chat.” This supports the idea that Discord is not just for gamers.

In an article posted by Psychology Today, one reason people hate others is due to a sense of something being alien or “other.” However, one interviewee, Louis Park, reported: “I always see people getting along, and it is rare to see any arguments of genuine hate. There is no hate speech, and the most intense arguments I have ever got into personally is over Minecraft.”

A person passes on information to his server mates. PHOTO CREDIT: Mark Haiko

Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth also echoed this opinion, saying: “It depends on who you hang out with, but almost everyone I have met has been very kind, and I enjoy talking to them.” Steven Johnson also agreed, saying: “I view people on Discord as friends.”

Many people from many different backgrounds come to Discord to connect under one cause: to have fun with each other, regardless of race, religion, language and barriers. In Discord communities people respect and care about one another, as shown by Louis Park and Charles Derrick William Bailey the Fourth, who claim that they “always see people getting along” and that “almost everyone I have met has been very kind.” Discord is also a place where people can strengthen their relationships and academic skills by practicing skills with each other through calls. For example, Steven Johnson used Discord to help him practice Spanish with others: “It is difficult to learn Spanish because it’s a lot of memorizing conjunctions and words; Discord helped me because some of my friends speak only Spanish.”

In conclusion, Discord is a very positive and diverse place that can be used to expand knowledge and friendship. It is also very unique compared to many other ones.

Technology affects education and social lives

By Avi Mehra

Staff Writer

Faris Khetto, a sophomore at Summit Tahoma, has been greatly affected greatly by technology. His father often gave him death and suicide threats. “He used to be really aggressive towards me, and he threatened to kill me a couple times,” he told Summit News. One day, Faris felt that he would have really died. “I felt that he was actually going to really hurt me,” he said, “like I would be dead.”

Khetto had a deactivated phone, given by his father, with him. His father gave the phone because he believed that deactivating it would stop all calls from going through. “I was able to call 911 and stuff like that, like emergency services.”

“Technology has really changed my life.”

He called the police, not mentioning the death threats, and only saying that he “felt unsafe.” Custody of Khetto was taken away from his father. “I feel like that really saved my life, because if I didn’t have my phone, I would have been most likely dead … I really felt like there was a threat.”

Communications technology clearly has positive effects. In addition to life-and-death situations such as Khetto’s, these technologies can connect friends and family over long distances. Without such technologies, these connections would not be feasible.

Students at Tahoma also use communications technology for fun or entertainment. Many of Tahoma’s teenagers use social media on a daily basis. There are growing concerns on a national level that excessive social media use has significant detrimental effects on the social lives and physical and mental health of users. Tahoma students shared their viewpoints.

In a survey sent out to the Tahoma student body, only 8 percent of people responded that the effects of technology on social lives are more negative than positive. Of the students, 20 percent responded that technology affects their social lives very positively, and 66 percent responded that the effects are positive. 

One Tahoma senior expressed serious concern with regards to technology use at home: “There are many negative things about technology that impact me socially and mentally. Some days I tend to feel lonely, sad, nervous, and full of self-hatred. I find that because of my anxiety and depression symptoms that I would tend to look to my phone to pull me away from life through pointless, draining YouTube videos, online games that are designed to addict and make money, and random memes. Because of this, I tend to forget about schoolwork during breaks and weekends. This got fairly bad when I didn’t do a lot of work over Thanksgiving break and I fell behind. This was the first time I had an overdue project in [three] years.”

Most students claimed technology use at home does not negatively affect schoolwork and personal health. 

For sophomore Jasen Pardilla, technology is a great influence on his life: “Technology is part of my everyday life,” he said, “It’s all positive benefits.” He pursues working with technology in the future.

Sophomore Janelle Langarica, an aspiring video game designer, agrees. She is part of the programming classes at Tahoma. “[Programming] would definitely help me in the future because we live in the Silicon Valley; if you’re living here you might as well take advantage of what you have around you.” Langarica has expressed that using and working with technology has positive benefits on mental capacity: “Definitely – it helps with logical thinking. Creativity too – you have to be creative in how you put stuff, the design.”

Regarding the effects of technology on education, Tahoma students said that the positive effects were notably more significant than the negative; they reported similar results regarding the impact on their social lives. See below for survey results:

Forms response chart. Question title: How significant are the effects of technology on your social life?. Number of responses: .

This is expected, as a majority of Summit’s curriculum is online, on the Summit Learning Platform. Students at Tahoma are able to see how technology can be used for legitimate and positive purposes and can see past negative effects that are sometimes focused on in the media.

The same student with the negative concerns wrote about how useful other, non-Summit-specific, technology has been for her.

“I don’t think I could have made it as well without the internet, document cameras, magnifiers, and my computer. This allows us to think more about the world around us and learn about things we couldn’t before … Especially for students with disabilities, like myself, technology is important to allowing us to participate in class better than without it.”

See below for a video regarding tech use and the Tahoma community:

Students master the fundamentals of programming

By Sam Gurdus

Staff Writer

In Matt Hesby’s Intro to Programming course, students gain fundamental skills used to complete their projects for the class. Students create computer-generated artwork, an artificial intelligence, and everything in-between.

Most recently, students created AIs to compete against each other in a game. Mr. Hesby explained the importance of learning programming: “In the future, more and more jobs are going to require people to know how to program.” He believes these skills are valuable, especially so because of our location in Silicon Valley.

See below for a video on the course:

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