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In Hong Kong, this AI reads children’s emotions as they learn

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Find Solution AI facial expression reading software mapping facial muscles to assess emotion
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The software, 4 Little Trees, was created by Hong Kong-based startup Find Solution AI. While the use of emotion recognition AI in schools and other settings has caused concern, founder Viola Lam says it can make the virtual classroom as good as — or better than — the real thing.

Students work on tests and homework on the platform as part of the school curriculum. While they study, the AI measures muscle points on their faces via the camera on their computer or tablet, and identifies emotions including happiness, sadness, anger, surprise and fear.

Facial expression recognition AI can identify emotions with human-level accuracy.

The system also monitors how long students take to answer questions; records their marks and performance history; generates reports on their strengths, weaknesses and motivation levels; and forecasts their grades. The program can adapt to each student, targeting knowledge gaps and offering game-style tests designed to make learning fun. Students perform 10% better in exams if they have learned using 4 Little Trees, says Lam.

Lam, a former teacher, recalls finding out that certain students were struggling only when they got their exam results — by which time “it’s too late.”

She launched 4 Little Trees in 2017 — with $5 million in funding — to give teachers a chance for “earlier intervention.” The number of schools using 4 Little Trees in Hong Kong has grown from 34 to 83, over the last year. Prices range from $10 to $49 per student per course.

Lam says the technology has been especially useful to teachers during the pandemic because it allows them to remotely monitor their students’ emotions as they learn.

Chu believes the technology’s benefits will outlast the pandemic, because it reduces his admin load by creating and marking personalized classwork and tests. And, unlike teachers, the expression-reading AI can pay close attention to the emotions of every student, even in a large class.

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But technology that monitors children’s faces raises concerns about privacy.

In China, AI that analyzes biometric data for surveillance purposes in schools and other places has sparked controversy.

Lam says 4 Little Trees records facial muscle data, which is how the AI interprets emotional expressions, but it does not video students’ faces.

The AI tracks the movement of muscles on a student's face to assess emotion. For example, if the corners of their mouth are raised, the machine detects happiness.

Pascale Fung, director of the Center for AI Research at Hong Kong University of Science and Technology, says “transparency” is key to maintaining students’ privacy. She says developers must get consent from parents to collect students’ data, and then “explain where the data is going to go.”

Racial bias is also a serious issue for AI. Research shows that some emotional analysis technology has trouble identifying the emotions of darker skinned faces, in part because the algorithm is shaped by human bias and learns how to identify emotions from mostly White faces.
Lam says she trains the AI with facial data that matches the demographics of the students. So far, it has worked well in Hong Kong’s predominantly Chinese society, but she is aware that more ethnically-mixed communities could be a bigger challenge for the software.

Experts say emotional expression can vary between cultures and ethnicities.

Lam says Find Solution AI’s emotion recognition works with 85% accuracy in Hong Kong. Fung says algorithms with “very good settings” can correctly identify primary emotions, such as happiness and sadness, up to 90% of the time.

However, more complex emotions, like irritation, enthusiasm or anxiety, can be harder to read.

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“We can hope for 60% [or] 70% accuracy,” says Fung, adding that most people can’t identify complex emotions with a greater level of accuracy. “Human beings are not good at reading facial expressions” she says. “We would like to train machines to be … better than the average human.”

As the AI improves, Lam hopes to develop applications for businesses, as well as schools, to better understand participants’ needs and increase engagement in online meetings and webinars.

Where human communication is concerned, AI “can help to facilitate a better interaction,” she says.

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Shamima Begum: UK teen who joined ISIS not allowed to return home to fight for citizenship, court rules

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Shamima Begum: UK teen who joined ISIS not allowed to return home to fight for citizenship, court rules
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The President of the Supreme Court, Lord Robert Reed, said that the UK Court of Appeal made four errors last year when it ruled that Begum should be allowed to return to the UK to carry out her appeal.

Begum was 15 years old when in 2015 she left the UK with two school friends to join ISIS in Syria. She was stripped of her British citizenship by then-Home Secretary Sajid Javid on February 19, 2019 upon being discovered in a northern Syrian refugee camp.

According to Reed, the Court of Appeal was mistaken in ruling that Begum’s right to a fair hearing should prevail over other competing rights.

“The right to a fair hearing does not trump all other considerations such as the safety of the public,” Reed said.

The UK Court of Appeal last year ruled that Begum should be granted leave to enter the UK for her appeal because otherwise it would not be “a fair and effective hearing.”

Reed added that the Court of Appeal did not give the Home Secretary’s assessment of the requirements to enter the UK “the respect it deserved,” adding that the court made their “own assessment of the requirements” despite an “absence of relevant evidence.”

The Supreme Court also ruled that Begum’s appeal against the revocation of her UK citizenship should be “postponed” until she can participate without “public safety being compromised.”

In his judgment Reed said Begum is currently being held at a camp in Syria. This is “not a perfect solution as it is not known how long it may be before that is possible,” he said.

“There is no perfect solution to a dilemma of the present kind,” Reed added.

The decision to revoke Begum’s citizenship has come under fire from human rights campaigners and legal experts alike who argue that the revocation rendered her stateless and compromised her right to a fair appeal.

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GameStop stock is surging again: Shares close up more than 100%

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GameStop stock is surging again: Shares close up more than 100%
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Shares were halted once around 3:40pm ET after climbing nearly 74%, and again just over 10 minutes later after gaining 104%. GameStop’s trading volume was roughly three times higher the five-day average for the stock, according to data provider Refinitiv.

Less than an hour after the closing bell, the stock was on the move again — gaining nearly 90% in after-hours trading.

Having déjà vu yet? The surge comes about a month after a wild GameStop (GME) trading frenzy caused its stock to jump around 1,600% in a matter of days, though it quickly fell from highs around $350. The late January surge was fueled by individual retail investors, many from the Reddit page WallStreetBets, some of whom believed the GameStop was undervalued and others who wanted to squeeze hedge funds that had shorted the stock.
The jump in GameStop also comes a day after the company announced its chief financial officer would resign next month to help “accelerate GameStop’s transformation,” which could fuel investors who believe in the long-term value of the retailer and its ability to shift from relying on physical stores to an e-commerce sales model.
AMC (AMC), another “meme stock” involved in the trading frenzy last month, also jumped around 18% on Wednesday.

Redditors on WallStreetBets cheered as GameStop soared. Posts on the subreddit included diamond emojis (a reference to holding a stock long term) and titles like “NEXT STOP IS THE MOON BABY” with rocket emojis, representing a belief that the stock will continue its upward trajectory.

Some GameStop investors have talked publicly about not selling their positions in the company during last month’s trading frenzy because they believe in its long-term potential.

Around 4pm, the entire Reddit site was down for many users, though the company did not identify the cause of the outage. Within about half an hour, Reddit said it had identified the underlying issue and “systems are beginning to recover.”

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His rescue at a London protest inspired Michelle Obama and Prince Harry. Now, Patrick Hutchinson is turning his moment into a movement

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His rescue at a London protest inspired Michelle Obama and Prince Harry. Now, Patrick Hutchinson is turning his moment into a movement
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Last summer, when he rescued a man at a London protest that had turned violent, Hutchinson unwittingly stepped onto the world stage. It wasn’t something Hutchinson, now 50, had planned — but now he is using the newfound fame for good.

“I didn’t see color,” Hutchinson said. “I just saw somebody who needed help.”

It was June 13 and Hutchinson was at home, babysitting his grandchildren, when a friend called him. Fearful that a demonstration involving a far-right group and Black Lives Matter protesters could turn violent, the friend, Pierre Noah, asked him for help.

“Pierre twisted my arm,” Hutchinson said. “The idea was to stop any of these young protesters from doing anything that they’re going to regret later on. When you’re Black, especially, and you end up in front of the criminal justice system, you don’t always get a fair shout.”

Noah, Hutchinson and three other friends went to the demonstration not as protesters, Hutchinson said, but as unofficial overseers. The men saw themselves as “more experienced individuals of the community,” he said — men with one common goal: to keep the peace.

Hutchinson said there was tension from the get-go — “a lot of unrest (and) frustration.” The men defused several incidents that were not caught on camera before they spotted some BLM protesters and “some of the far-right guys,” he said, in an altercation. They made their way to the scene, where they found a White man, Bryn Male, lying in the fetal position, injured.

Hutchinson, a personal trainer and athletic coach, picked Male up, put him over his shoulder and carried him through the crowd to safety. Soon after, the violence subsided and crowds began to disperse. And before Hutchinson and his friends even made it back home, images of the rescue started going viral.

“It was during the lockdown, so we were all outside having something to eat … sort of talking over the events of the day,” Hutchinson said. “And then I had a message ping up on my phone from my sister, saying, ‘Is this you?'”

Overnight, Hutchinson’s image went viral and interview requests flooded in. In the days and weeks to come, he appeared on many major news outlets as well as in Vogue magazine and on the cover of Men’s Health.

His story was also viewers’ choice for last year’s Most Inspiring Moment, revealed at the 14th annual “CNN Heroes: An All-Star Tribute.”

“It’s been an amazing, amazing journey,” Hutchinson said. “I’ve spoken to the likes of Rev. Al Sharpton, Prince Harry. I’ve been nominated a GQ Hero and received a humanitarian award. I’ve had Michelle Obama write a message on her Instagram. It hasn’t stopped, and it’s still going.”

Hutchinson has also written and published a book called “Everyone Versus Racism: A Letter To My Children,” and recently, he and three of the men who were with him last June — Jamaine Facey, Chris Otokito and Lee Russell — started a group called UTCAI, which stands for United to Change and Inspire.

“We want to use our platform and make a change in our community for the young people especially that really need our support and help at this moment in time,” Hutchinson said.

“We’re inspiring other people to be the change in the world that you want to see. Go out there and do what’s right. Don’t stand by and watch certain things unfold when you know that you have the ability to do something about it.”

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