Applications of AI Potpourri: AI curbs sex trafficking, outs potentially gay men, avoids pedestrians and more!

Today's potpourri shows the diverse applications of AI, from addressing social problems, creating unanticipated ones, and increasing efficiency in transportation.

[TechRepublic] Apple's autonomous car software uses neural networks to improve navigation, object detection

Apple scientists are working on a new software called VoxelNet that can help self-driving cars identify pedestrians and cyclists by improving Light Detection and Ranging, without adding additional cameras/sensors. Driving is such an integral part of everyday living that Apple's foray into this space is certainly not surprising.

This marks Apple’s first official steps in the autonomous vehicle market, joining companies including Google, Tesla, Uber, and Intel.
Online marketplace AHA partnered with drone company Flytrex on the world’s first fully autonomous drone service in Reykjavik, Iceland. The drone delivery service can cut down delivery time from 25 minutes to four minutes, with a 60% reduction per delivery cost.

[The New Yorker] The A.I. “Gaydar” Study and the Real Dangers of Big Data

AI can now determine your sexual orientation by using parameters such as hair combing style, length of hair, shoes, and polo shirts.  As humans, I think that we should not be making assumptions about people's sexual orientation based on their appearances. How does that help us in anyway? So, why are we now having AI to do that for us?

Kosinski and a colleague, Yilun Wang, had reported the results of a study, to be published in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology, suggesting that facial-recognition software could correctly identify an individual’s sexuality with uncanny accuracy...When shown two photos, one of a gay man and one of a straight man, Kosinski and Wang’s model could distinguish between them eighty-one per cent of the time
Researchers have developed a new tool which uses machine learning to identify payment patterns in illicit ads on — a site commonly used to host online ads for sex work.

The new system follows peculiar or repeated bitcoin transactions that are likely used in sex trafficking, and gives authorities a heads up of which chains of payments could be signs of crimes. Every transaction on Backpage uses bitcoin.

[Reuters] Sex robots: perverted or practical in fight against sex trafficking?

The argument here is that sexual robots is a great option for lonely people and that in the future brothels will be staffed with robots.

Sex robots can potentially replace prostitutes, reduce sex trafficking and help lonely people.

Experts say the increasingly life-like robots raise complex issues that should be considered by policymakers and the public - including whether use of such devices should be encouraged to curb prostitution and sex trafficking, for sex offenders, or for people with disabilities.