The FBI is Trying Amazon’s Facial-Recognition Software

The FBI is piloting Amazon’s facial matching software—Amazon Rekognition—as a means to sift through mountains of video surveillance footage the agency routinely collects during investigations.

The pilot kicked off in early 2018 following a string of high-profile counterterrorism investigations that tested the limits of the FBI’s technological capabilities, according to FBI officials.

For example, in the 2017 mass shooting in Las Vegas carried out by Stephen Paddock, the law enforcement agency collected a petabyte worth of data, much of it video from cellphones and surveillance cameras.

“We had agents and analysts, eight per shift, working 24/7 for three weeks going through the video footage of everywhere Stephen Paddock was the month leading up to him coming and doing the shooting,” said FBI Deputy Assistant Director for Counterterrorism Christine Halvorsen.

Halvorsen made those remarks in November at the Amazon Web Services re:Invent conference in Las Vegas, where she described how the FBI is using Amazon’s cloud platforms to carry out counterterrorism investigations. She said Amazon Rekognition could have gone through the same trove of data from the Las Vegas shooting “in 24 hours”—or three weeks faster than it took human FBI agents to find every instance of Paddock’s face in the mountain of video.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.nextgov.com/emerging-tech/2019/01/fbi-trying-amazons-facial-recognition-software/153888/

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“Kill Your Foster Parents”: Amazon’s Alexa Talks Murder, Sex

Amazon’s Alexa is shocking its owners with conversations about sex acts, dog defecation, with one device telling a customer to “kill your foster parents.”

These outbursts are allegedly “episodes” that are meant to make the device a better communicator, according to Reuters:

The episodes, previously unreported, arise from Amazon.com Inc’s strategy to make Alexa a better communicator. New research is helping Alexa mimic human banter and talk about almost anything she finds on the internet. However, ensuring she does not offend users has been a challenge for the world’s largest online retailer.

…Amazon customers can participate by saying “let’s chat” to their devices. Alexa then tells users that one of the bots will take over, unshackling the voice aide’s normal constraints. From August to November alone, three bots that made it to this year’s finals had 1.7 million conversations, Amazon said.

The project has been important to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who signed off on using the company’s customers as guinea pigs, one of the people said. Amazon has been willing to accept the risk of public blunders to stress-test the technology in real life and move Alexa faster up the learning curve, the person said.

Amazon’s virtual assistant made news earlier this week after the device sent over 1,000 private recordings to a completely random person.

A spokesperson for the commerce giant said the incident was an “isolated” error, Fox reports:

The unidentified user had asked the voice assistant to play back recordings of his own activities made by Alexa, and in doing so, he was able to get 1,700 audio files from a complete stranger after Amazon sent him a link, the German computer magazine c’t reported.

An Amazon spokesman said Thursday: “This unfortunate case was the result of a human error and an isolated single case.”

The person who received the stranger’s recordings claimed he initially got no reply from Amazon when the user informed the company that he was given the wrong files.

Infowars.com has long reported on Big Tech’s “smart” devices having the capabilities to record people that are willingly bringing them into their homes.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.infowars.com/kill-your-foster-parents-amazons-alexa-talks-murder-sex/

Defense Agency To Begin Moving Classified Data to Amazon’s Secret Cloud After Protest

For the first time, the Defense Department will begin moving classified data and applications to Amazon Web Services’ Secret Region—the same cloud environment developed for the CIA and intelligence community several years ago.

U.S. Transportation Command—the part of the department responsible for moving troops and equipment around the globe—announced its intentto make use of AWS’ Classified Secret Commercial Cloud Services in December after the company expanded its capabilities and availability to non-intelligence agencies.

The Defense Department’s sole-source decision—a contract awarded without a full and open competition—was protested by Microsoft, which itself offers a variety of cloud services to the federal government. The company withdrew itsprotest March 8, allowing TRANSCOM to begin migrating data to the AWS Secret Region. In a statement to Nextgov, Microsoft said it withdrew its protest “because the issues involved were resolved” to the company’s satisfaction.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

http://www.nextgov.com/it-modernization/2018/03/defense-agency-begin-moving-classified-data-amazons-secret-cloud-after-protest/146619/

Inside Amazon’s Giant Spheres, Where Workers Chill in a Mini Rainforest

Three years ago, Amazon.com Inc.‘s horticulturalist was giving Jeff Bezos a preview of what the company’s three plant-filled spheres—the centerpiece of its $4 billion downtown Seattle office project—would look like on opening day.

FOLLOW THE LINK FOR THE FULL REPORT – JR

https://www.bloomberg.com/news/features/2018-01-26/inside-amazon-s-giant-spheres-where-workers-chill-in-a-mini-rainforest