Facebook’s artificial intelligence chooses Turin-based Evo Pricing
Its algorithms will reduce invasions of privacy: “We will give customers direct control and establish stricter limits”
Turin, February 4, 2021
by Nicolò Fagone La Zita
Menlo Park calls, Turin answers. Evo Pricing, a startup incubated at the Polytechnic of Turin has been selected – among ten Europeans along with only one other Italian – to be part of Facebook’s task force with the goal of reducing the risks of artificial intelligence. That is exactly the area of expertise of the Italian-London-based company, which uses “AI” to assist companies in marketing. Thanks to Big Data, Evo Pricing is capable of determining the price of a product, optimizing the distribution chain and raising service levels. To do this it uses a specific algorithm, created in 2013 by its founder Fabrizio Fantini.
Since then, Evo’s applications have increased, both in terms of scope and accuracy and now they will be available to Mark Zuckerberg’s colossus and the Open Loop project. A global program that connects policymakers and technology companies to overcome a major challenge: using data effectively and without invading the privacy of the individual.
On the other hand, the risks and potential of AI have long split public opinion. What is worrying is the increasingly rapid spread of fallible automated systems within the society. And if the impact is difficult to detect, it becomes imperative to identify rigorous approaches to make it more transparent. Not least because the potential for development addresses multiple fields with excellent results, from leukemia diagnosis to hate posts on social media.
However, new tools are needed to ensure the protection of privacy and respect for human rights by providing the information to understand the ultimate purpose of processing. The EU has already moved in this direction in 2018, with the Data Protection Regulation (GPDR). But that’s not enough. Open Loop aims to create a new regulatory framework that can identify and manage the risks of artificial intelligence. Facebook has selected 10 startups in Europe (Evo Pricing is the only Italian one together with Riatlas from Campania) which in the next 6 months will test new algorithm control processes by trying to make them as editable as possible by humans.
“Governance is a fundamental issue for us at Evo Pricing – says Fantini – every day we collect and process data on over 1.3 billion people and 900 million products. We’ve already increased manually editable parameters by 16% to give customers direct control and establish stricter limits.” The results of Evo and the other startups will be included in a final document called “Adia” (Automate decision impact assessment), to be submitted to the European Union. “To make the systems more transparent we will be acting in two directions – Fantini concludes – on one hand we will increase the level of user control and on the other hand we will make the regulations more explicit to facilitate the exercising of rights.”