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[Updated] IBM Exits Facial Recognition Technology Business Over Biasness and Inequality


(Updated on June 11): Amazon gives the US police departments a one-year respite on using its facial recognition technology

IBM has dropped off from the facial recognition technology race. In a letter sent to the US congress, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna, says the company will no longer offer general-purpose facial recognition and analysis software products. It has devoted to working with Congress in pursuit of justice and racial equity, instead.

Their first focus will be on three key policy areas including police reform to hold police more accountable for misconduct, responsible use of technology, and broadening skills and educational opportunities.

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,” he said.

He also questioned whether facial recognition technology should be used at all. And. if yes, how it can be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.

The use of facial recognition technology among law enforcement agencies has raised concerns among industry experts after studies found it exhibits biasness, on lines of age, race, and ethnicity.

“The systems falsely identified African-American and Asian faces 10 times to 100 times more than Caucasian faces,” found the National Institute of Standards and Technology in a study conducted last year.

“vendors and users of Al systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported,” says Krishna.

Few days after IBM banned the development and research of facial recognition technology, Amazon is also following suit.

The e-commerce giant is banning the police from using its facial recognition technology. It has given the police a one-year moratorium, but says the tech can be used by certain organizations with a mission “to help rescue human trafficking victims and reunite missing children with their families.”

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Alvin Wanjala

Alvin is a freelance tech journalist. Covers gadgets, cybersecurity, and social media. Talk to me via email alvinwanjala[at]pm[dot]me

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