Neutrogena Is Using AI To Launch Personalized, 3D Printed Face Masks

Neutrogena–a household name for beauty products–is launching a new iOS App called MaskiD that will help with problem spots on user’s faces.

MaskiD relies on TrueDepth cameras in the iPhone X, XS, and XR to create 3D printed masks that fit the user’s face measurements. MaskiD can be paired with Neutrogena’s Skin360, one of the company’s other tools that uses artificial intelligence, to help with skin care.

Skin360 tracks skin’s progress over time and analyzes its health and needs. Skin360 comes in two parts: the skin scanner and the app. The scanner is paired with an iPhone to magnify the phone’s camera lens and enhances the magnification with eight high-powered LED lights. The scanner also has a “moisture meter” to determine which areas of the face require more attention.

Skin360 scans different areas of a user’s face and when paired with the MaskiD provides a better skin care suggestion. MaskiD users can select from a variety of ingredients used to improve their skin including stabilized vitamin C, purified hyaluronic acid and N-Acetylglucosamine. Each section of the mask uses the ingredients to target user’s problem areas.

MaskiD and Skin360 are two of Neutrogena’s latest products to use artificial intelligence. The company told the Verge their plan is to roll out even more products using AI.

This Researcher Is Using AI To Generate Tribal Masks

One researcher is using technology to recreate some of the world’s oldest and most beautiful works of art.

Human-computer interaction researcher Victor Dibia is using artificial intelligence to generate African masks based on his custom curated dataset.

The Carnegie Mellon graduate was inspired to explore merging tribal art and AI after attending the Deep Learning Indaba conference in South Africa where Google provided attendees Tensor Processing Units (TPUs)—Google’s custom-developed AI accelerator application.

He trained a generative adversarial network (GAN)—a two-part neural network consisting of generators that produce samples and discriminators that attempt to distinguish between the generated samples and real-world samples—to generate images based on the dataset he built.

Dibia explains in a blog post that he manually created a dataset of over 9000 diverse images depicting African masks in different shapes and textures.

“The goal is not to generate a perfectly realistic mask, but more towards observing any creative or artistic elements encoded in the resulting GAN,” he wrote.

The researcher trained the GAN by using a larger set of non-curated images from a web search with initial results showing the model generating images “distinct from their closest relatives in the dataset.”

“GANs can be useful for artistic exploration,” he wrote of his findings. “In this case, while some of the generated images are not complete masks, they excel at capturing the texture or feel of African art.”

Dibia plans to expand the Africa masks dataset and continue experiments with “conditioned GANs” and its relationship to artistic properties.

Study Shows Twitter Is Toxic For Women—Especially Black Women

Twitter is a toxic place for women.

That’s according to a new report by Amnesty International and Element AI, which analyzed millions of tweets showing women are targeted with hate speech on social platforms.

The Troll Patrol Report found that 7.1 percent of tweets sent to women can be considered “problematic” or “abusive.” That’s one every 30 seconds on average or a total of 1.1 million.

“We have built the world’s largest crowdsourced dataset about online abuse against women,” Milena Marin, Senior Adviser for Tactical Research at Amnesty International, said in a statement. “We have the data to back up what women have long been telling us—that Twitter is a place where racism, misogyny, and homophobia are allowed to flourish basically unchecked.”

Black women are particularly impacted and are 84 percent more likely to be targeted with hate speech online than their white counterparts. Women of color are 34 percent more likely to be targeted in tweets with abusive language.

The report surveyed millions of tweets received by 778 journalists and politicians from the UK and US last year across the political spectrum.

“We found that, although abuse is targeted at women across the political spectrum, women of color were much more likely to be impacted and black women are disproportionately targeted,” said Marin. “Twitter’s failure to crack down on this problem means it is contributing to the silencing of already marginalized voices.”

The human rights group has repeatedly asked Twitter to release data detailing the abuse taking place on their platform and address the hate speech. While Twitter has yet to release a comprehensive breakdown of violence against women on their platform, the social media company did release its latest transparency report last week.

How Google Translate is Reducing Gender Bias With Its New Update

Google announced the revamping of Translate to offer more interpretations. Before the update, only masculine translations existed for gender-neutral words.

“Google Translate learns from hundreds of millions of already-translated examples from the web,” Google Translate Product Manager James Kuczmarski said in a blog post.  “Historically, it has provided only one translation for a query, even if the translation could have either a feminine or masculine form.”

Photo: Google Translate

Google Translate plans to extend gender-specific translations to more languages.

Google Translate will launch the update on its iOS and Andriod apps later in the year. It is also set to address gender bias in features like query auto-complete.

Tech companies have struggled with identifying and fixing gender bias in machine learning and artificial intelligence technologies. Last year, Wired reported on a Virginia computer science professor finding gender bias in some of the machine-learning software that he was helping to build. The software amplified gender-bias by continuously associating activities like shopping and cooking with women and sports and coaching to men.

More recently, Amazon nixed its AI hiring tool after finding that the technology was bias against women, according to reporting from Reuters. 

Google’s move represents an effort to make things right. Kuczmarski said his team is currently developing ways to address non-binary gender in translations, although those changes will not be part of the initial updates.

Microsoft Calls for New AI Laws to Prevent Bias

Microsoft announced it’s adopting a set of facial recognition principles and is calling for new laws that regulate artificial intelligence software to prevent bias.

In a company blog post, Microsoft’s president Brad Smith outlined risks and potential for abuse associated with facial recognition technology. This included citing issues relating to privacy, democratic freedoms, and discrimination.

“Governments and the tech sector both play a vital role in ensuring that facial recognition technology creates broad societal benefits while curbing the risk of abuse,” said Smith.

As the issues with young technology become clearer, “we need to tackle the initial questions now and learn as we go,” he added.

Microsoft believes legislation can better influence the outcomes of facial recognition testing for accuracy and unfair bias. The company calls for laws requiring testing services to provide documentation clearly explaining the limitations of the software and for companies to start third-party testing.

“We readily recognize that we don’t yet have all the answers. Given the early stage of facial recognition technology, we don’t even know all the questions,” said Smith. “But we believe that taking a principled approach will provide valuable experience that will enable us to learn faster.”

Mazzuma Wants To Use Blockchain To Fix Mobile Banking

A Ghanaian based company is on a mission to make sure cryptocurrency can be adopted by many, not just a few.

Mazzuma is using blockchain and artificial intelligence to innovate mobile payments. The platform makes use of the distributed ledger system and its own cryptocurrency to allow for secure online transactions.

Founders Kofi Genfi and Nii Osae Osae Dade launched the platform in 2015 as the flagship product for their software innovation company CYST. The two were recognized this year by Forbes Africa 30 under 30 for their contribution to Africa’s tech ecosystem.
“The most unique feature about Mazzuma is its sheer simplicity in its usage,” said Genfi in an email to AfroTech. “Mazzuma’s unique multichannel approach allows consumers to use financial services in ways you hadn’t imagined before.”

The team launched the third phase of its initial coin offering (ICO) with digital token MAZ created to allow for instant and free global mobile payments. The Ghanaian-based company is driven by the desire to ensure cryptocurrency can be adopted by underserved consumers to take advantage of the true decentralized nature of the digital currency.

“The Internet made the world a global village, blockchain and cryptocurrency are making the world a global economy,” said Dade on creating the MAZ token in a statement. “People should be able to send money from one economy to another without it losing its value.” 

 According to Business Insider, two billion people around the world are unbanked or do not have banking access through a mobile phone. About half of those unbanked (55 percent) are women. Data from the World Bank demonstrates the worldwide unbanked population fell 20 percent from 2.5 billion between 2011 and 2014.

The platform is currently hosting 26,000 accounts and has processed over 7.5 million GH₵ (roughly $1.5 million) in transactions. reports Mazzuma is registering over 100 new accounts each day making it one of the largest mobile payment platforms in the country.

World Bank data shows the majority of unbanked populations reside in developing nations. Only 54 percent of people in developing countries are banked while 94 percent of adults from high-income countries reported having bank accounts in 2014.

The Mazzuma team recognizes the opportunity in the mobile market with nearly 700 million current active mobile payment users across the world and roughly 10 million consumers in Ghana, one of Africa’s biggest mobile money markets.

The company hopes to bridge the gap in terms of access to banking institutions writing, “Mazzuma is well poised to bridge this gap with our background in leading innovations in the mobile money space.”

Encounter AI Wants To Streamline How We Order Food

Artificial intelligence is looking to provide better service to customers, restaurants and fast food chains by making their ordering process faster than ever. Encounter AI is doing so through the use of voice-recognition technology and artificial intelligence.

Founded by CEO Derrick Johnson and Kabah Conda, Encounter AI is marketed toward businesses who use headset and intercom systems to shorten ordering time. For example, while the automated system is handling orders, cashiers are able to focus on monetary transactions.

Johnson said the biggest benefit to using Encounter AI for consumers is the customization and personalization.

“You can say what diet you’re on and the system will show you menu items that are there,” Johnson said. Consumers with allergies and other restricted diets are easily able to identify with menu items that fit their needs within seconds using Encounter AI.

Encounter AI’s ordering system also helps eliminate waste — cashiers do not have to worry about logging the wrong orders and risking customers throwing food away.

Johnson said other technological changes in the food and restaurant industries such as the use of mobile ordering and kiosks have had contrasting impacts. Panera Bread, Wendy’s and McDonald’s currently have ordering kiosks in their restaurants, but the equipment is not making significant changes in ordering times because customers are not using them.

Alternatively, mobile ordering with Seamless, Grubhub, Postmates, UberEats, and in-house apps has made it easier for customers to get their food without going to an actual store.

Johnson said customers use kiosks as a backup plan and usually “choose humans first.” He also said customers aren’t going to use an app once they have already committed time to a store.

Encounter AI is not only for restaurants, but the platform can also be used to streamline inventory management.

Encounter AI is currently being tested in Milwaukee, Chicago, and Atlanta with plans to release in early 2019.

Derrick Johnson and Kabah Conda will be participating in the AfroTech Cup Pitch Competition. Check out the live stream starting at 2 o’clock to see them and other founders pitch their ideas.

Amazon Had To Ditch An AI Experiment After The Tool Showed Bias Against Women

Amazon is getting rid of a project that was trying to incorporate artificial intelligence with hiring. The tool was supposed to streamline the hiring process, but the technology showed bias against women, according to Reuters.

Amazon’s program penalized applicants who included the word “women’s” and who attended all-women’s colleges. Although it was only being tested internally, it’s still unclear, as The Verge points out, whether or not the program was actually used to make personnel decisions.

One of the biggest arguments against the use of artificial intelligence is how it perpetuates biases from data.

In September, seven members of Congress wrote letters to the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission highlighting the risks of facial recognition technology, another form of AI.

“While they can offer many benefits, we are concerned by the mounting evidence that these technologies can perpetuate gender, racial, age, and other biases,” said the senators in their letter to the FTC.

Although companies are using AI and facial recognition to avoid bias in the hiring process, flaws in the technology are making companies question how to move forward.


Several Members of Congress Are Raising Questions About Facial Recognition Technology

Facial recognition technology is now being used to unlock smartphones, automatically tag friends on Facebook and certain sectors of law enforcement are even finding uses for it. While it is a major advancement in the way we live our everyday lives, some senators believe this form of artificial intelligence poses a threat to civil rights.

Seven members of Congress sent letters to the Federal Trade Commission, the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission highlighting the risks of facial recognition technology.

“While they can offer many benefits, we are concerned by the mounting evidence that these technologies can perpetuate gender, racial, age, and other biases,” said the senators in their letter to the FTC.

In the letter to the EEOC, senators — including Kamala Harris and Elizabeth Warren — questioned if the technologies could violate the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Equal Pay Act of 1963, or the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990.

In the letter to the FTC, senators said that facial recognition technology could lead to discrimination, saying people could be misidentified for crimes and charged for them.  The letter to the FBI mainly asked for updates on the recommendations made by the Government Accountability Office to address concerns about facial recognition technology.

Concerns over facial recognition are not new and have come up in national headlines several times over the past couple of years.

In July, the American Civil Liberties Union tested Amazon’s face surveillance technology on members of Congress against 25,000 mugshots, which resulted in 28 false matches.

In January, Google said it “fixed” a flaw in its facial recognition algorithm that misidentified black people as gorillas by blocking the terms “gorilla,” “chimp,” “chimpanzee,” and “monkey.”

And in February, a study by Joy Buolamwini at MIT showed that many major facial recognition technologies have issues accurately identifying the genders of darker skinned women.

Each letter requests that the agencies respond by the end of September.