Facebook Gives Special Counsel Mueller Records of Russian Campaign Ads

Today’s topics include Facebook turning over Russian 2016 presidential campaign ads to Robert Mueller; a lawsuit from three female ex-Google employees claiming wage discrimination; quantum computing posing a risk to cryptography and Bitcoin; and the Microsoft Pix app using AI to automatically improve photos.

Facebook has turned over to U.S. special counsel Robert Mueller detailed records about the Russian ad purchases on its platform that go further than what it shared with Congress earlier this month, according a Wall Street Journal report.

This sales and business information included copies of the ads and details about the accounts that bought them and the targeting criteria they used.

Mueller and his team are investigating possible Russian influence in the 2016 U.S. presidential election, after evidence has come to light suggesting the Russian government used social networks and other media in attempts to sway public opinion in favor of Republican Donald Trump over the Democrat Hillary Clinton.

Three female former Google employees have filed a lawsuit against the company in San Francisco, accusing Google of compensating women less overall than male employees with substantially similar skills and experience.

The three ex-employees were a software engineer, a senior manager of business system integration and a brand evangelist, all employed by Google some time between 2010 and 2016.

Among the complaints is that Google has "channeled and segregated" women to less compensated job paths, and that it promotes fewer women and takes longer to promote them than similarly situated male employees. A data regression analysis for all 21,000 employees at Google's Mountain View, Calif., headquarters shows six to seven standard deviations in pay for men and womenacross nearly every job classification, the lawsuit alleges.

According to Konstantinos Karagiannis, chief technology officer for Security Consulting at BT Americas, the race to crack modern cryptography is driving quantum computing research and development.

"Imagine a world where you could read everyone's encrypted communications in real time; that's the promise of a quantum computing machine," Karagiannis said at the Open Source Summit in Los Angeles last week. He added that a quantum computer would theoretically be able to get the private key for every person that has ever made a Bitcoin transaction.

The good news, Karagiannis said, is there are multiple efforts underway to develop cryptography that will be more resistant in the quantum era. "We have to be ready for the quantum apocalypse that is coming," he said.

Microsoft has updated its Pix photo optimization app for iOS, adding new deep-learning capabilities that help tidy up mobile snapshots. Released in 2016 as an alternative to the stock iPhone camera app, Pix captures a rapid burst of photos and selects a handful of the best shots using artificial intelligence technologies, discarding the rest to save on storage space.

The app uses data from all the frames taken in a burst before they're deleted to enhance the final product, automatically removing noise and adjusting for color, tone and facial brightness.

Additionally, "The updated app automatically detects whiteboards, documents and business cards in real time and intelligently adjusts camera settings for these types of photos," said Microsoft representative John Roach on Sept. 14. "Once the shutter clicks, the app uses AI to improve the image, such as cropping edges, boosting color and tone, sharpening focus and tweaking the angle to render the image in a straight-on perspective."