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By May of next year, artificial intelligence algorithms in the EU will be legally required to provide users an explanation "every time it uses [their] personal data to choose a particular recommendation or action," writes AI lawyer John Frank Weaver :

  • For example: Weaver gives us Amazon's usually reliable Alexa, which recently cued up Sir Mix a Lot, to the befuddlement of its owner.
  • Why AI owes an explanation: Weaver says the U.S. should follow suit, in order to promote transparency and greater user control over the technologies that play an increasingly important role in their lives.
  • Why we should tread carefully: Thomas Burri, an assistant professor of international and European law at the University of St. Gallen, told Weaver "If the first thing you need to consider when designing a new program is the explanation, does that stifle innovation and development? . . . Some decisions are hard to explain, even with full access to the algorithm...."

Go deeper

Armin Laschet elected as leader of Merkel's CDU party in Germany

Armin Laschet. Photo: Christian Marquar - Pool/Getty Images

Armin Laschet, the centrist governor of North Rhine-Westphalia, was elected on Saturday as the new leader of Germany's Christian Democratic Union (CDU), defeating the more conservative Friedrich Merz by a 521-466 margin.

Why it matters: Laschet is now the most likely successor to Chancellor Angela Merkel as the standard bearer of the German center-right heading into September's elections. With Merkel preparing to step down after 16 years in power, Laschet is seen as a continuity candidate.

Updated 10 mins ago - Politics & Policy

Coronavirus dashboard

Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

  1. Health: CDC director defends agency's response to coronavirus pandemic — CDC warns highly transmissible coronavirus variant could become dominant in U.S. in March.
  2. Politics: Azar says deadly Capitol siege could "tarnish" Trump administration's legacy — Biden says, "We will manage the hell out of" vaccine distribution.
  3. Vaccine: Battling Black mistrust of the vaccines"Pharmacy deserts" could become vaccine deserts — Instacart to give $25 to shoppers who get vaccine.
  4. Economy: Unemployment filings explode againFed chair: No interest rate hike coming any time soon —  Inflation rose more than expected in December.
  5. World: WHO team arrives in China to investigate pandemic origins.
Bryan Walsh, author of Future
17 mins ago - Politics & Policy

America is anxious, angry and heavily armed

Data: FBI; Chart: Andrew Witherspoon/Axios

Firearms background checks in the U.S. hit a record high in 2020.

The big picture: This past year took our collective arsenal to new heights, with millions of Americans buying guns for the first time. That trend coincides with a moment of peak political and social tension.

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