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Big Khosla is Watching

UCSD chancellor joins board of Canadian high-tech surveillance outfit

Pradeep Khosla
Pradeep Khosla

Facial recognition software, one of the latest frontiers in big-money high-tech security, is not without its controversies, both local and national.

Last summer, Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota said he was worried about privacy threats brought on by the burgeoning technology, noting in a news release, "Facial recognition tracks you in the real world — from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike."

In November, retail giant Walmart caused jitters among some when it acknowledged to Fortune magazine that it was testing facial recognition to combat shoplifting.

"The company declined to discuss any specifics about how many suspected shoplifters it identified or describe the accuracy of the software," Fortune reported.

In San Diego, the technology garnered national attention last August when the New York Times spotlighted its use by police equipped with iPads.

"County documents show that since 2011, 26 San Diego law enforcement agencies used the software to try to identify people on more than 20,600 occasions — although officers found a match to criminal records only about 25 percent of the time," the Times reported.

Local civil rights lawyer Victor Manuel Torres told the paper, "The complaint is always that they did it and didn’t get permission. ‘The police put me in cuffs and I’m on the curb, and they pull out an iPad and are taking pictures.’”

Now San Diego has yet another high-profile connection to the video spy world.

According to a news release from the Avigilon Corporation of Vancouver, British Columbia, UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla has joined the board.

"Chancellor Khosla is an internationally renowned researcher, author, and educator with more than 30 years' experience in the fields of engineering and computer science," says the release, dated January 21.

"Chancellor Khosla has also managed advanced research and development projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."

Alexander Fernandes, Avigilon's founder, president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, was quoted as saying of Khosla:

"His expertise in engineering and computer science, in particular with video analytics and artificial intelligence, is a valuable asset to Avigilon's innovation and growth."

Mahesh Saptharishi, an Avigilon executive, told the firm's blog that faces are just the beginning.

"How people walk, how people move actually are very unique to each individual, so you could combine facial recognition information with their body movements to uniquely identify them. And when you have two mutually exclusive pieces of validation that uniquely identifies you, the accuracy now goes up without the restriction of having a cooperative subject."

One of the company's current specialties is video security, with clients including San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System

“With its advanced video search capabilities, the Avigilon HD Surveillance System has played a key role in our ability to resolve conflicts and prevent criminal activity across our transit system,” Larry Savoy, assistant director of security and code compliance at MTS, was quoted in a company news release as saying.

The announcement of Khosla's board spot came just weeks before UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi quit the board of DeVry Education Group on March 1, two weeks after taking the $70,000-a-year position.

“I initially chose to accept the appointment because I believed I could contribute to improving the educational experiences of the students attending DeVry institutions, but in light of a variety of other issues that have come to the fore, I have determined that I am unable to serve,” said Katehi's resignation letter.

The Sacramento Bee reported March 3 that Katehi had made $420,000 as a boardmember of publisher Wiley & Sons from 2012 through 2014.

The revelations caused Democratic state senator Marty Block of Chula Vista to question the longtime practice of the state's university chiefs accepting outside board seats.

“It’s become apparent in the last 24 hours that some of the CEOs of these campuses have more than one job and make a lot of money in other places,” Block said during a budget subcommittee meeting, calling for more transparency regarding outside compensation numbers.

“Chancellor Katehi is the case on the front page of the Sacramento Bee today and my guess is there might be others.”

As previously reported here, Khosla has served on the board of "HCL Insys Pvt. Ltd," according to a state disclosure document. He got $18,000 in compensation from that engagement, according to his 2014 statement of economic interests filed with the university.

Information regarding compensation Khosla may receive from Avigilon was not immediately available. His gross pay from the university is currently $455,274, according to a UC website.

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Pradeep Khosla
Pradeep Khosla

Facial recognition software, one of the latest frontiers in big-money high-tech security, is not without its controversies, both local and national.

Last summer, Democratic senator Al Franken of Minnesota said he was worried about privacy threats brought on by the burgeoning technology, noting in a news release, "Facial recognition tracks you in the real world — from cameras stationed on street corners and in shopping centers, and through photographs taken by friends and strangers alike."

In November, retail giant Walmart caused jitters among some when it acknowledged to Fortune magazine that it was testing facial recognition to combat shoplifting.

"The company declined to discuss any specifics about how many suspected shoplifters it identified or describe the accuracy of the software," Fortune reported.

In San Diego, the technology garnered national attention last August when the New York Times spotlighted its use by police equipped with iPads.

"County documents show that since 2011, 26 San Diego law enforcement agencies used the software to try to identify people on more than 20,600 occasions — although officers found a match to criminal records only about 25 percent of the time," the Times reported.

Local civil rights lawyer Victor Manuel Torres told the paper, "The complaint is always that they did it and didn’t get permission. ‘The police put me in cuffs and I’m on the curb, and they pull out an iPad and are taking pictures.’”

Now San Diego has yet another high-profile connection to the video spy world.

According to a news release from the Avigilon Corporation of Vancouver, British Columbia, UCSD chancellor Pradeep Khosla has joined the board.

"Chancellor Khosla is an internationally renowned researcher, author, and educator with more than 30 years' experience in the fields of engineering and computer science," says the release, dated January 21.

"Chancellor Khosla has also managed advanced research and development projects for the Defense Advanced Research Projects Agency."

Alexander Fernandes, Avigilon's founder, president, chief executive officer, and chairman of the board, was quoted as saying of Khosla:

"His expertise in engineering and computer science, in particular with video analytics and artificial intelligence, is a valuable asset to Avigilon's innovation and growth."

Mahesh Saptharishi, an Avigilon executive, told the firm's blog that faces are just the beginning.

"How people walk, how people move actually are very unique to each individual, so you could combine facial recognition information with their body movements to uniquely identify them. And when you have two mutually exclusive pieces of validation that uniquely identifies you, the accuracy now goes up without the restriction of having a cooperative subject."

One of the company's current specialties is video security, with clients including San Diego's Metropolitan Transit System

“With its advanced video search capabilities, the Avigilon HD Surveillance System has played a key role in our ability to resolve conflicts and prevent criminal activity across our transit system,” Larry Savoy, assistant director of security and code compliance at MTS, was quoted in a company news release as saying.

The announcement of Khosla's board spot came just weeks before UC Davis chancellor Linda Katehi quit the board of DeVry Education Group on March 1, two weeks after taking the $70,000-a-year position.

“I initially chose to accept the appointment because I believed I could contribute to improving the educational experiences of the students attending DeVry institutions, but in light of a variety of other issues that have come to the fore, I have determined that I am unable to serve,” said Katehi's resignation letter.

The Sacramento Bee reported March 3 that Katehi had made $420,000 as a boardmember of publisher Wiley & Sons from 2012 through 2014.

The revelations caused Democratic state senator Marty Block of Chula Vista to question the longtime practice of the state's university chiefs accepting outside board seats.

“It’s become apparent in the last 24 hours that some of the CEOs of these campuses have more than one job and make a lot of money in other places,” Block said during a budget subcommittee meeting, calling for more transparency regarding outside compensation numbers.

“Chancellor Katehi is the case on the front page of the Sacramento Bee today and my guess is there might be others.”

As previously reported here, Khosla has served on the board of "HCL Insys Pvt. Ltd," according to a state disclosure document. He got $18,000 in compensation from that engagement, according to his 2014 statement of economic interests filed with the university.

Information regarding compensation Khosla may receive from Avigilon was not immediately available. His gross pay from the university is currently $455,274, according to a UC website.

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Comments
5

"His expertise in engineering and computer science, in particular with video analytics and artificial intelligence, is a valuable asset to Avigilon...." the company says. Strange, I thought his expertise as a fundraiser/manager/leader/academic etc was supposed to be a "valuable asset" to the taxpayers of California. Like, valuable, to the tune of $455,000 dollars. Totally wrong. And of all people, for a Chancellor, who presumably has a more than full time job. The UC Davis (Katehi) situation is more egregious but both are nothing more than self-serving.

March 7, 2016

I'm not sure UC Davis Chancellor Katehi's working for money from fly-by-night private DeVry University is "more egregious" than UCSD Chancellor Khosla's working for DARPA or to improve spyware at Avigilante. What is with these "educators?" Where is the commitment to humanist ideas and ideals that are the foundation of learning and the university? Is Khosla's gig an example of the fashionable STEM push that is eclipsing art, literature, languages and history in our schools? Maybe State Senator Marty Block can do something about these moonlighting chancellors before he has to retire from the Legislature to make way for ex-Assembly Speaker Toni Atkins.

March 7, 2016

The fact that he's doing this right on the heels of the surrender by his counterpart in Davis says something. Maybe I'll eventually be able to think of what that is. He's obviously trying to follow in the footsteps of his predecessor as chancellor of UCSD. Her name, if you've forgotten, was Fox. And a wily fox she was, serving on a ridiculously large number of corporate boards. Oh, the justification was that her massive moonlighting was an asset to her ability to run her day job. Yeah, right. Maybe Davis is just less willing to put up with the nonsense that all this entails than is sleepy, apathetic San Diego.

Whether it is Kosla, who has already worn out his welcome here, or Katehi who claimed that her motivation to work for De Vry was that "[she] could contribute to improving the educational experiences of the students attending DeVry institutions" the door for abuse remains ajar. Hey how about improving the educational experience for students at UC, Davis, chancellor? That's why the "U" pays you almost a half million a year.

Those campus bosses are paid those fat salaries for their full-time and inexhaustible efforts to improve their schools. They should be prohibited from serving other masters, with an occasional exception for something that is grandfathered in their careers. What we're seeing is greed, plain and simple greed, using one position as a stepping stone to and leverage for other situations. Lucrative situations at that, in almost all cases. As long as nobody really cares, we'll have these double-, or triple-, or quadruple-dipping campus execs who have a dozen or more other paying gigs to fill their pockets.

March 7, 2016

He's an H-1B advocate. Deep inside he believes American are stupid and that Indians are superior. If you think that is racist, then just watch his actions. He publicly speaks ill of American engineers and how they "can't keep up." His "diversity efforts" are aimed at bringing over more foreign students and more foreign engineers. Our universities have been hijacked by that agenda because it invariably leads to collecting higher tuition which means more in the pot for the administrators to share.

I consider people like Khosla traitors. If private universities want his kind of "vision" that's their business. But when it comes to a pubic university where the goal is educating the children of the state, the taxpayers, he doesn't fit in. I reason that almost everything he does is a conflict of interest to the goal of our public education system when he hijacks it for his personal agenda. Why do e even permit our public university system to accept foreign students when we have a narrative that says America doesn't have enough engineers? Yet American students who apply are not accepted because they do not score as high as the foreign applicants. If the public universities are going to operate they way, perhaps they should all be privatized.

March 8, 2016

We tout higher education like it was the key to well paid professions. We tell our students that if you work hard and go into fields like engineering you will have a well paid career for life. Our kids work hard and spend years attaining the premier education and then find that our government in conjunction with business has conspired to allow foreign educated engineers into the work force because they will work for less. There are so many government schemes that business uses to keep wages low. We say we value education and hard work but we reward it by using foreign labor, legal and illegal, to deny taxpaying American workers the ability to work for decent wages and benefits.

March 9, 2016

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