Shine some light in black box of algorithms used by government

Shine some light in black box of algorithms used by government

In summary

AB 13 would set criteria to minimize unfair, biased or discriminatory decisions by artificial intelligence systems used by government.

By Ed Chau

Assemblymember Ed Chau, a Democrat from Monterey Park, represents Assembly District 49, Chau introduced Assembly Bill 13 and is chair of the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection.

Debra Gore-Mann, Special to CalMatters

Debra Gore-Mann is president and CEO of The Greenlining Institute, The Greenlining Institute is sponsoring Assembly Bill 13.

You can’t see algorithms, but they can impact huge parts of your life, from seemingly minor things like what video YouTube will queue up next to life-and-death issues such as whether or not you can get a COVID-19 vaccination. It’s time we all had a better idea how algorithms impact us, particularly when the government is using them.

An algorithm is simply a set of rules and instructions used by a computer program to perform a task or solve a problem. While algorithms themselves are coldly mathematical, they are created by humans who, like all of us, can have blind spots, biases or preconceptions. And that can lead to algorithms that make bad decisions or even perpetuate racial and gender bias. 

These algorithms feed into an artificial intelligence framework where machine learning makes decisions and predictions from data about people – decisions previously made by people. According to PwC research, artificial intelligence could contribute $15.7 trillion to the global economy by 2030.

The Greenlining Institute recently released an analysis of the problem, titled Algorithmic Bias Explained: How Automated Decision-Making Becomes Automated Discrimination, which included some startling findings. The report reviews a number of incidents that have made it into the media in which algorithms perpetuated discrimination based on race, gender or income – and those reports represent just the tip of the iceberg, because most algorithms operate in the background, unseen and unknown by those whose lives they impact.

Some of the most disturbing reports have involved government programs, including an Arkansas Medicaid algorithm that wrongly cut off medical and nursing home benefits to hundreds of people. Another, used in Detroit, perpetuated old, discriminatory patterns of redlining by channeling community development funding away from the very neighborhoods that needed it most – literally a case of algorithmic redlining.

In February, the New York Times reported serious issues with an algorithm the federal government uses to manage COVID-19 vaccine allocations: “The Tiberius algorithm calculates state vaccine allotments based on data from the American Community Survey, a household poll from the United States Census Bureau that may undercount certain populations – like undocumented immigrants or tribal communities – at risk for the virus.”

Equally concerning, the New York Times quoted researchers and health officials who are frustrated at how little they know about how the Tiberius algorithm decides how many vaccine doses to send where, describing it as “a black box.”

When government makes decisions that affect our daily lives, our communities and potentially even our very survival, those decisions should not be made in a black box.

That’s why we’ve worked to develop legislation that will begin to bring transparency to the use of algorithms by government agencies in our state. If passed, Assembly Bill 13 would set forth criteria for the procurement of high-risk automated decision systems by government entities in order to minimize the risk of adverse and discriminatory impacts resulting from their design and application. The bill is scheduled to be heard in the Assembly Committee on Privacy and Consumer Protection on April 8.

Specifically, the bill would require a prospective contractor to submit an Automated Decision System Impact Assessment to evaluate the privacy and security risks to personal information and risks that may result in inaccurate, unfair, biased or discriminatory decisions impacting individuals. It would also require the contracting entity to produce an accountability report, after awarding the contract, which includes a detailed mitigation plan for identifying and minimizing the potential for any disparate impacts, and would make both the assessment and report available to the public.

At their best, algorithms can do a tremendous amount of good. They have the potential to make decision-making faster, fairer and more data-driven. But we’ve ignored their dark side for too long.

It’s time to shine some light in that black box. Let’s make sure that when government uses algorithms to make decisions on everything from health care to public benefits, we know what’s happening and that the process is accurate and fair.


Assemblymember Ed Chau has also written about facial recognition regulation and about stopping hateful acts against Asian Americans.

Debra Gore-Mann has also written about California regaining its power to regulate internet service providers.

Published at Wed, 07 Apr 2021 12:22:30 +0000

Evolv Technology Honored with 2021 Artificial Intelligence Product Excellence Award

WALTHAM, Mass., April 07, 2021 (GLOBE NEWSWIRE) — Evolv Technology, the leader in AI touchless security screening, today announced that Evolv Express® has been named a winner in this year’s Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards program.

In its inaugural year, the Business Intelligence Group organized the Artificial Intelligence Excellence Awards to recognize organizations, products and people who bring artificial intelligence (AI) to the market and apply it to solve real problems. The role of AI was already transforming many aspects of our lives and culture before the COVID-19 pandemic, and now companies are escalating their reliance on AI to build new processes, launch new services or deploy the AI of strategic vendors.

As the world’s only AI-enabled touchless screening system on the market, Evolv Express uses advanced sensors and machine learning to screen for concealed weapons, differentiating weapons from personal items. Earning the top spot in the award program’s ‘automatic targeted recognition’ category, the system transforms security screening as we know it. Traditional, decades-old metal detector technology was not built to accommodate for technical advances in personal items, such as cell phones or titanium implants, or today’s increasing threats to crowds in public spaces, which are considered soft targets. Evolv Express screens ten times faster than legacy metal detectors with an unparalleled 3,600 people per hour per system at a 70% reduction in cost. Built on its Evolv Cortex AI software platform, Evolv is continually improving the security posture for customers through machine learning and analytical insights on-demand.

“Our system reflects a fundamental rethinking of physical security in order to identify threats more effectively while improving the experience of sports fans, patrons, visitors, employees, students and staff, and others,” said Evolv Technology Co-founder and Head of Advanced Technology Michael Ellenbogen. “With Evolv’s AI-enabled software, we’re able to respond to changing customer requirements swiftly and efficiently. It’s an honor for our system to be recognized for this AI Excellence Award.”

“We’re especially proud of Evolv Chief Scientist Dr. Alec Rose and his team for driving such innovative advancements in the area of physical security,” Ellenbogen continued. “By doing so, we believe they are rewriting the standards for what’s required in providing best-in-class human security around the world.”

As the pandemic has unfolded, organizations have had to reevaluate their safety operations when it comes to addressing threats from weapons violence and health risks. In reviewing security processes, antiquated screening products and methods like metal detectors, pat downs and hand wands have become potential risk factors for re-opening ticketed venues, companies, schools and other venues. These organizations can benefit from security that provides a seamless and touchless experience. Express uses artificial intelligence software and advanced digital sensors that are highly accurate, discreet and deliver significantly more throughput than outdated, analog technologies. Importantly, the AI-enabled system allows for rapid integration of new capabilities such as analytics and thermal scanning.

The world’s most iconic venues and companies place their trust in Evolv to protect their employees and visitors including Uber, Lincoln Center, L.L. Bean, Six Flags, and hundreds of others. Evolv’s systems have been used to screen more than 50 million people, second only to the Department of Homeland Security’s Transportation Security Administration in screening people in the U.S.

About Evolv Technology
Evolv Technology is the world’s leading provider of AI touchless security screening systems that enhance safety without sacrificing the visitor, student and employee experience. Built on top of its Evolv Cortex AI™ software platform, the company provides an array of AI touchless screening technologies for weapons detection, identity verification and health-related threats.

Led by a team of security industry leaders with a track record for delivering first-to-market products, Evolv’s investors include Bill Gates, Florida Governor Jeb Bush’s firm, Finback Investment Partners, DCVC, General Catalyst Partners, Lux Capital, SineWave Ventures, Motorola Solutions and STANLEY Ventures. The company’s partners include Motorola Solutions, STANLEY Security and Johnson Controls. Evolv Express® has earned industry accolades such as the 2020 Edison Awards™, two Campus Safety 2020 BEST Awards, Campus Security & Life Safety magazine’s Secure Campus 2020 Awards and Best Places to Work by Inc. Magazine and Built in Boston.

Evolv Technology, Evolv Express®, and Evolv Cortex AI are registered trademarks or trademarks of Evolv Technologies, Inc. in the United States and other jurisdictions.
For more information, visit

Forward-Looking Statements

This document contains certain forward-looking statements within the meaning of the federal securities laws with respect to the proposed transaction between NewHold Investment Corp. (“NewHold”) and Evolv Technologies, Inc. (“Evolv”). These forward-looking statements generally are identified by the words “believe,” “project,” “expect,” “anticipate,” “estimate,” “intend,” “strategy,” “future,” “opportunity,” “plan,” “may,” “should,” “will,” “would,” “will be,” “will continue,” “will likely result,” and similar expressions. Forward-looking statements are predictions, projections and other statements about future events that are based on current expectations and assumptions and, as a result, are subject to risks and uncertainties. Many factors could cause actual future events to differ materially from the forward-looking statements in this document, including but not limited to: (i) the risk that the transaction may not be completed in a timely manner or at all, which may adversely affect the price of NewHold’s securities, (iii) the failure to satisfy the conditions to the consummation of the transaction, including the adoption of the Agreement and Plan of Merger, dated as of March 5, 2021 (the “Merger Agreement”), by and among NewHold, Evolv and NHIC Merger Sub Inc., a Delaware corporation and a direct wholly owned subsidiary of NewHold, by the stockholders of NewHold, the satisfaction of the minimum trust account amount following redemptions by NewHold’s public stockholders and the receipt of certain governmental and regulatory approvals, (iv) the lack of a third party valuation in determining whether or not to pursue the transaction, (v) the inability to complete the PIPE investment in connection with the transaction, (vi) the occurrence of any event, change or other circumstance that could give rise to the termination of the Merger Agreement, (vii) the effect of the announcement or pendency of the transaction on Evolv Aviation’s business relationships, operating results and business generally, (viii) risks that the proposed transaction disrupts current plans and operations of Evolv and potential difficulties in Evolv employee retention as a result of the transaction, (ix) the outcome of any legal proceedings that may be instituted against Evolv or against NewHold related to the Merger Agreement or the transaction, (x) the ability to maintain the listing of NewHold’s securities on a national securities exchange, (xi) the price of NewHold’s securities may be volatile due to a variety of factors, including changes in the competitive and highly regulated industries in which NewHold plans to operate or Evolv operates, variations in operating performance across competitors, changes in laws and regulations affecting NewHold’s or Evolv’s business and changes in the combined capital structure, (xii) the ability to implement business plans, forecasts, and other expectations after the completion of the transaction, and identify and realize additional opportunities, and (xiii) the risk of downturns and a changing regulatory landscape in Evolv’s highly competitive industry. The foregoing list of factors is not exhaustive. You should carefully consider the foregoing factors and the other risks and uncertainties described in the “Risk Factors” section of NewHold’s registration on Form S-1 (File No. 333-239822), the registration statement on Form S-4 discussed above and other documents filed by NewHold from time to time with the SEC. These filings identify and address other important risks and uncertainties that could cause actual events and results to differ materially from those contained in the forward-looking statements. Forward-looking statements speak only as of the date they are made. Readers are cautioned not to put undue reliance on forward-looking statements, and except as required by law NewHold and Evolv assume no obligation and do not intend to update or revise these forward-looking statements, whether as a result of new information, future events, or otherwise. Neither NewHold nor Evolv gives any assurance that either NewHold or Evolv or the combined company will achieve its expectations.

Any financial projections in this communication are forward-looking statements that are based on assumptions that are inherently subject to significant uncertainties and contingencies, many of which are beyond NewHold’s and Evolv’s control. While all projections are necessarily speculative, NewHold and Evolv believe that the preparation of prospective financial information involves increasingly higher levels of uncertainty the further out the projection extends from the date of preparation. The assumptions and estimates underlying the projected results are inherently uncertain and are subject to a wide variety of significant business, economic and competitive risks and uncertainties that could cause actual results to differ materially from those contained in the projections. The inclusion of projections in this communication should not be regarded as an indication that NewHold and Evolv, or their representatives, considered or consider the projections to be a reliable prediction of future events.

Media Contacts:
Jennifer Torode

Published at Wed, 07 Apr 2021 12:00:00 +0000

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