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Amazon reportedly scraps internal AI recruiting tool that was biased against women

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Bias in machine learning can be a problem even for companies with plenty of experience with AI, like Amazon. According to a report from Reuters, the e-commerce giant had to scrap an internal project that was trying to use AI to vet job applications after the software consistently downgraded female candidates.

Because AI systems learn to make decisions by looking at historical data they often perpetuate existing biases. In this case, that bias was the male-dominated working environment of the tech world. According to Reuters, Amazon’s program penalized applicants who attended all-women’s colleges, as well as any resumes that contained the word “women’s” (as might appear in the phrase “women’s chess club”).

The team behind the project...

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Associated Artists show examines “The End”

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“It is about the end of the world, the end of a relationship, all the different ways we come to terms with things closing every day.”

Aaron Regal’s “Clearances: Documenting Gentrification in Pittsburgh’s East End” is part of Associated Artists “The End.”

October 4 marked the beginning of “The End,” a new art exhibit at FrameHouse & Jask Gallery. The show was organized by Associated Artists of Pittsburgh (AAP) and features 15 Pittsburgh-based artists.

AAP is the oldest continually exhibiting visual arts organization in the country. Founded in 1910, with the goal of providing a platform for artists to exhibit new work, AAP continues to organize art exhibitions throughout the greater Pittsburgh area, open to any of AAP’s 550 members. Former members include renowned artists Mary Cassatt and Andy Warhol.

Fred Blauth, the curator of “The End,” also created the show’s concept, which he submitted to AAP when they put out a call for proposals in January.

“At the time, I was really noticing a lot of things that were ending around me. My grandmother and grandfather died that year,” Blauth says. “But little things too, I was moving, I’m constantly trying to quit smoking, and it all made me think of this show.”

The exhibit focuses on the concept of “the end,” and the way the artists featured interpret that concept differently.

“It is about the end of the world, the end of a relationship, all the different ways we come to terms with things closing every day,” Blauth says.

“The End” will run until October 27 at FrameHouse & Jask Gallery, 100 43rd St. The exhibit is free and open to the public.

Blauth had the work of more than 100 artists to select from when curating the exhibit. He wanted to ensure a diversity of viewpoints, since many artists took a darker approach to the exhibit’s theme.

“There were a lot of works that were specifically talking about death, or using a very dark color palette,” Blauth says. “I really wanted to show a number of perspectives. It’s not all one color or about one thing.”

This isn’t to say death doesn’t have a place in this exhibit. Two featured artists, Tyler Gaston and Zach Brown, both focus on ideas of mortality, but approach it in very different ways.

Gaston, a graduate student at Indiana University of Pennsylvania, examines death through the medium of woodworking.

“I’m doing my thesis research on the idea of mortality, and I’m currently working with logs. I’m exploring that idea through the living material of a tree,” Gaston says.

For “The End,” Gaston created a wall-mounted sculpture of wood and concrete, featuring a log split in two, but held together by a curved rod of concrete. The sculpture is meant to play with the idea of repairing something broken.

“Wood as a material has this living presence, and I’m interested in using that as my main material to examine the idea of mortality,” Gaston says.

In contrast, Zach Brown took a more representational approach to the concept. His large diptych, titled “As Above, So Below,” features a stark representation of life and death that plays with the scale of a burial.

“There’s a female figure resting above, then a nice six feet of space, and a skeleton below. Fairly simple, but playing with some more esoteric concepts,” Brown says.

Brown took inspiration from Hermeticism, a religious tradition from the Middle Ages. The work’s title, “As Above, So Below,” is borrowed from that tradition, referring to their belief that what happens at one level of existence happens at all other levels.

But death does not dominate “The End.” A different interpretation of the concept is offered by Aaron Regal, who focused on the neighborhoods of Pittsburgh’s East End. His photo essay showcases the area’s 200 year history, particularly its history of gentrification and corporate capitalism. Further, it asks what it means when a neighborhood ceases to be what it once was.

“My objective is to offer an alternative narrative to the story of East Liberty’s recently acclaimed economic and cultural upheaval,” Regal says. He wants his work to draw attention to Pittsburgh’s history of inequality through urban planning, in hope of preventing future examples.

Regal, Brown, and Gaston’s work will share the walls with 12 fellow artists’ visions of “The End,” showcasing just how differently those two simple words can be interpreted.

Nick Eustis is a Pittsburgh Current Contributing Writer. Contact him at info@pittsburghcurrent.com.

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Carnegie International Returns for 57th Iteration

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Combining local and international artists with Pittsburgh history, the 57th international asks what it means for a local museum to be a part of a global contemporary institution.

Carnegie International curator Ingrid Schaffner. (Current Photo by Jake Mysliwczyk)

When Carnegie International curator Ingrid Schaffner began her research for the 57th iteration of the exhibition, the United Kingdom was still a part of the European Union, the United States Supreme Court affirmed same-sex marriage and 195 countries endorsed the Paris Climate Accord, coming together to combat the effects of climate change.

Three years later, all that has changed: the United Kingdom is set to withdraw fully from the Union in 2019; bakers are refusing to bake cakes for same-sex couples, citing protections by the First Amendment; and, in 2017, the United States withdrew from the Paris Climate Accord, with President Donald Trump stating, “I was elected to represent the citizens of Pittsburgh, not Paris.”

According to Schaffner, these global changes and connections inspire the art featured in the 2018 Carnegie International, which begins Oct. 13 through March 25. Combining local and international artists with Pittsburgh history, the 57th international asks what it means for a local museum to be a part of a global contemporary institution.

“We are part of an international” she says. “The International is a very pervasive term in a way that it wasn’t when I began working on the exhibition in 2015.”

The Carnegie Museum of Art has presented the International since 1896 — one year before the Venice Biennale — and was the brainchild of museum founder Andrew Carnegie. Occuring every four to five years, the International helps expand the museum’s collection and shows Pittsburgh’s ability to be at the center of both art and industry, according to the International website.

2018 Carnegie International. Through March 25. $11.95-19.95 (free for members). 4400 Forbes Ave., Oakland. 412-622-3131 or www.cmoa.org

Schaffner was invited by former Carnegie Museum of Art museum director Lynn Zelevansky in 2014 to curate the project, and began work on the International in summer 2015. According to the International website, she is approaching the exhibition as “an encompassing research project.”

For Schaffner, that means an emphasis on community events, like Tam O’Shanter Drawing Sessions — where museum-goers can explore contemporary art by drawing with artists and organizers of the 2018 Carnegie International — teaming up with Carnegie Mellon University’s School of Art for an artist lecture series, a Cinematheque (French for “small film house or a film library”) for children that will be screening films that address a theme in the International and FEAST events connecting art and food.

“It’s been happening since I started working on it. The exhibition might be the culmination of these things, but it’s not ‘the thing,’” Schaffner says. “There’s a kind of phenomena of the contemporary space that is both a space for exhibition but also for conversation and for programs and for readings and for learning.”

On top of examining the community aspect of art, Schaffner’s research also included traveling five times, each with a different curator whom Schaffner admired and respected — also known as “companions” — to “pass the buck,” as she says, to help her think about contemporary art on a global context.

Schaffner’s guidelines were simple: she’ll pay and the companion will decide where to go. However, there was one caveat: the place had to be new to both of them.

“The invitation wasn’t, ‘let’s travel and pick art together.’ It was ‘let’s travel and be thinking partners and guard each other’s suitcase,’” Schaffner says.

Schaffner and her companions — Magalí Arriola (independent curator, Mexico City), Doryun Chong (Chief Curator, M+, Hong Kong), Ruba Katrib (Curator, MoMA PS1, New York), Carin Kuoni (Director, Vera List Center for Art and Politics, The New School, New York) and Bisi Silva (Founder and Artistic Director, The Centre for Contemporary Art, Lagos) — traveled to Morocco, Senegal, Nigeria, Romania, Georgia, Armenia, Azerbaijan, India, Trinidad, Barbados, Martinique, Haiti, the Bahamas, the Philippines, Singapore and Vietnam.

Those travels culminated in works by 32 artists — 13 individual artists who use the pronoun “he” and 17 individual artists who use the pronoun “she” — from all around the world and the United States, with representation from the Cherokee Nation, Ghana, India, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Korea, Kuwait, Lebanon, Navajo Nation, Nigeria, Nonuya Nation, Pakistan, Palestine, Senegal, and Vietnam.

“My invitation to artists was, ‘come to Pittsburgh, spend a few days to talk about the International, we’ll explore Pittsburgh a little together, and then you decide if want to be part of making this exhibition together.’” Schaffner says. “So it wasn’t like, ‘I want three red pots and a painting, you know, come to the opening.’ It’s very much wanting to bring artists themselves into a culture of making an exhibition we all want to experience ourselves together.”

That includes works from El Anatsui, a Ghanaian artist; Postcommodity, an interdisciplinary, indigenous art collective based in the American Southwest and Jon Rubin and Lenka Clayton, Pittsburgh-based educators and artists, all who used the museum and Pittsburgh’s history as inspiration for their work in the International after visiting.

Anatsui’s piece, titled “Three Angles,” covers the museum’s 30 by 160-foot facade, combining folded printing plates and wired-together liquor bottle tops. Anatsui was inspired by Richard Serra’s “Carnegie,” a geometric sculpture in the museum’s plaza that is made up of welded COR-TEN, an invention of Carnegie’s U.S. Steel Corp. Anatsui’s piece aims to be in conversation with the Serra, according to Schaffner.

Postcommodity’s piece, entitled “From Smoke and Tangled Waters We Carried Fire Home,” sits in the Hall of Sculpture and is made of glass, coal, and steel — materials of the city’s industrial past — partnered with performances by local musicians rooted in Pittsburgh’s history of jazz.

Jon Rubin and Lenka Clayton’s piece, “Fruit and Other Things,” turns the titles of rejected works submitted to the International between 1896 to 1931 into works of art, creating text-based paintings that museum-goers can take home.

Although the works themselves are important when presenting the International, according to Schaffner, the business side and other ancilliary elements are just as important.

“For me it’s important to think about the totality of the International. It’s the publications, it’s the public programs, it’s the website, it’s the labels, it’s the signage, it’s the way our artists are hosted when they’re here, there’s a whole culture to about how you invite people,” she says.

Schaffner says that she’s proudest of the sheer ambition from everyone involved: both from the artists and from the staff.

“Yeah, I’m the curator, but this exhibition is made by the whole museum. It’s all hands-on-deck for this exhibition,” she says. “It’s almost like each artist contribution is an exhibition in itself. And that’s been really exciting to build the structure and now it’s what artists are bringing into it and what colleagues are bringing into it and then it will be what the public brings into it.”

When the International ends in March, Schaffner’s time as curator ends, then the museum director invites a new person to shape the future International. According to Schaffner, this helps keep an exhibition dedicated to exploring the what it means for contemporary art to be, well, contemporary.

“I built my own team and we have our own way of doing things and when we leave, the next person comes in and shakes things up. It’s disruptive and it’s ventilating too,” she says.

Schaffner — a local Pittsburgher — doesn’t think that curating the International means she’s come full circle. Rather, she says it’s more like a spiral or a curlicue, resembling a cycle of influences, places and history — much like what the International is doing itself.

“This is my first museum. As a kid I came to this museum,” she says. “So this museum has an important role in making future museum-goers and I want the International to be part of that.”


Amanda Reed is a Pittsburgh Current Staff Writer. Contact her at amanda@pittsburghcurrent.com.

The post Carnegie International Returns for 57th Iteration appeared first on Pittsburgh Current.

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Google’s October security update fixes the Pixel and Pixel XL’s fast-charging problems

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Google released Android’s October security update today, bringing with it a few fixes and functional improvements for the company’s Pixel devices. Most notable among the patches is a fix for fast-charging issues which have been affecting 2016 Pixel and Pixel XL phones since the release of Android 9 Pie.

Google acknowledged that the OS update broke fast charging between original Pixel devices and some third-party power adapters that lacked USB Power Delivery, but everything should be back to normal now.

The October update also includes improvements to Android Auto stability and “improved performance for certain protected media formats” on the Pixel 2. You can download it now by going to Settings —> System —> Advanced —> System update.

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Cincinnati Joins the List of Cities Saying ‘No’ to Parking Minimums

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(AP Photo/John Minchillo, File)

The Cincinnati City Council has scrapped mandatory parking minimums in several downtown neighborhoods, City Beat reports. Cincinnati now joins the ranks of Seattle, Buffalo and Cleveland, among others, in pursuing a tactic for densifying neighborhoods and lowering the cost of housing that’s beloved by urbanists — but not always appreciated by the public at large.

Last week, City Council removed requirements that developers build parking facilities or spaces when they develop in the downtown, Over the Rhine (OTR) and Pendleton neighborhoods, as well as parts of Mount Auburn and the West End, according to City Beat. They also passed a parking permit plan for OTR.

A city task force that helped create the plan to remove parking minimums cited similar moves in parts of Cleveland, Nashville and Kansas City, Mo. as examples the city could draw from, the paper reports.

“Parking minimums are well-intended, but they are an unnecessary regulation that violate their own stated goals of reducing traffic, threaten walkability, and lead to blight in our cherished urban fabric in Over-the-Rhine,” the task force report stated.

City Councilman David Mann disagreed that Cincinnati was ready to scrap those minimums, however. He voiced concern that the removal of the requirement will simply encourage developers to forego parking in all cases — even when it might be needed.

“I want to believe that the market will take care of all human needs,” he said, according to City Beat. “With all respect, I don’t believe that.”

As Next City has covered, parking minimums tend to inflate housing costs, especially in places where real estate is already pricey (San Francisco, for example). In April of this year, Seattle passed a bundle of parking reforms aimed at decoupling the price of housing from parking, and lower the city’s greenhouse gas emissions, as Next City covered at the time.

The Seattle bill required commercial and residential buildings to charge residents for parking only if they actually had a car.

“Unbundling makes parking more transparent,” a researcher from Sightline told Next City at the time. “When people realize they’re paying $200 a month for parking they might opt out or get by with one car instead of two, then the market builds less of it which is what we want.”

In Cincinnati’s OTR neighborhood, the construction of just one parking space costs about $15,000, as WCPO recently reported. In Cincinnati, as elsewhere, developers often mix those costs into the monthly rental price tag.

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