IBM will no longer offer, develop, or research facial recognition technology


IBM will no longer offer general purpose facial recognition or scanning software, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said today in a letter to Congress. Company Will No Longer Develop Or Research Technology, Says IBM The edge. Krishna addressed the letter to Sens. Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and to representatives Karen Bass (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY) and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

“IBM strongly opposes and will not tolerate the use of [facial recognition] technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other providers, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of fundamental human rights and freedoms, or any other objective that does not comply with our values ​​and principles of trust and transparency, ”Krishna said in the letter. “We believe that the time has come for a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be used by national law enforcement authorities.”

Facial recognition software has improved considerably over the past decade thanks to advances in artificial intelligence. At the same time, it has been shown that technology – as it is often provided by private companies with little federal regulation or oversight – suffers from bias due to age, race and ethnicity, which can make the tools unreliable for law enforcement and security and ripe for possible civil rights violations.

A December 2019 study from the National Institute of Standards and Technology found “empirical evidence for the existence of a wide range of accuracy across demographic differences in the majority of current facial recognition algorithms that have been evaluated,” by example. The technology has also been criticized for its role in privacy breaches.

In particular, the NIST study did not include technology from Amazon, which is one of the few large technology companies to sell facial recognition software to law enforcement. However, Rekognition, the name of the program, has also been criticized for its accuracy. In 2018, the American Civil Liberties Union found that Rekognition mistakenly matched 28 members of Congress with faces chosen from 25,000 public photos, for example.

Another company, Clearview AI, came under scrutiny from the start of this year when it was discovered that its facial recognition tool, built with over 3 billion images partially compiled from from social media sites, was widely used by private sector businesses and law enforcement. Clearview has since received numerous cease and desist orders and is at the center of a number of privacy lawsuits. Facebook was also ordered in January to pay $ 550 million to settle a class action lawsuit for its illegal use of facial recognition technology.

IBM has attempted to address the problem of bias in facial recognition by releasing a public data set in 2018 designed to help reduce bias in the training data of a facial recognition model. But IBM has also been shown to share a separate training dataset of nearly a million photos in January 2019 taken from Flickr without subject consent – although the photos were shared under a Creative Commons license. IBM said Le Verge in a statement at the time that the dataset would only be accessible to verified researchers and included only publicly available images. The company also said that individuals can opt out of the data set.

In his letter, Krishna also argued for police reform, arguing that more cases of police misconduct should be brought under federal jurisdiction and that Congress should make changes to the doctrine of qualified immunity, among other measures. In addition, Krishna said that “we must create more open and equitable pathways for all Americans to acquire marketable skills and training,” and he suggested to Congress that consideration be given to expanding the P- school model. TECH nationally and expand eligibility for Pell grants.


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