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Amazon shareholders reject banning sale of facial recognition software to law enforcement

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

San Francisco supervisors approved a ban on police using facial recognition technology, making it the first city in the U.S. with such a restriction. Amazon shareholders will continue selling the company's facial recognition technology "Rekognition" to governments and law enforcement agencies. During the e-commerce giant's annual meeting Wednesday, shareholders rejected all proposals including two related to Rekognition, Amazon confirmed to USA TODAY. One proposed banning the sales of the technology and the other called for the company to conduct an independent study and issue a report on the risks of governments using the technology. Amazon did not release shareholder vote totals Wednesday but said information would be filed with the U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission later in the week.


Amazon votes to keep selling its facial recognition software despite privacy concerns

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Amazon will continue to sell its controversial facial recognition software to law enforcement and other entities after its shareholders shot down a proposal to reel the technology in. The vote effectively kills two initiatives brought before Amazon's board. One proposal would have required board approval to sell the software to governments, with approval only being given if the client meets certain standards of civil liberties. Another proposal called for a study on the technology's implications on rights and privacy. The exact breakdown of the vote is unclear and according to an Amazon representative it will only be made available via SEC filings later this week.


Facial recognition tech prevents crime, police tell UK privacy case

The Guardian

Facial recognition cameras prevent crime, protect the public and do not breach the privacy of innocent people whose images are captured, a police force has argued. Ed Bridges, an office worker from Cardiff, claims South Wales police violated his privacy and data protection rights by using facial recognition technology on him. But Jeremy Johnson QC compared automated facial recognition (AFR) to the use of DNA to solve crimes and said it would have had little impact on Bridges. Johnson, representing the police, said: "AFR is a further technology that potentially has great utility for the prevention of crime, the apprehension of offenders and the protection of the public." The technology maps faces in a crowd and then compares them with a watch list of images, which can include suspects, missing people and persons of interest to the police.


A Gentle Introduction to Object Recognition With Deep Learning

#artificialintelligence

The model is significantly faster to train and to make predictions, yet still requires a set of candidate regions to be proposed along with each input image. Python and C (Caffe) source code for Fast R-CNN as described in the paper was made available in a GitHub repository. The model architecture was further improved for both speed of training and detection by Shaoqing Ren, et al. at Microsoft Research in the 2016 paper titled "Faster R-CNN: Towards Real-Time Object Detection with Region Proposal Networks." The architecture was the basis for the first-place results achieved on both the ILSVRC-2015 and MS COCO-2015 object recognition and detection competition tasks. The architecture was designed to both propose and refine region proposals as part of the training process, referred to as a Region Proposal Network, or RPN. These regions are then used in concert with a Fast R-CNN model in a single model design. These improvements both reduce the number of region proposals and accelerate the test-time operation of the model to near real-time with then state-of-the-art performance.


China is using facial recognition to track and monitor giant PANDAS for conservation database

Daily Mail - Science & tech

Surveillance isn't the only application of China's advanced facial recognition software. Conservationists are now using the technology too, as a tool to help protect wild panda populations. According to a report from Xinhua News, researchers at the China Conservation and Research Center for Giant Pandas in Chengu have begun using facial recognition software to identify the often similar-looking faces and markings of wild pandas. Giant pandas are the latest subject of China's facial recognition software. Conservationists are now using the technology to monitor and track the animals.


r/MachineLearning - [R] Parallel Neural Text-to-Speech

#artificialintelligence

Abstract: In this work, we propose a non-autoregressive seq2seq model that converts text to spectrogram. It is fully convolutional and obtains about 17.5 times speed-up over Deep Voice 3 at synthesis while maintaining comparable speech quality using a WaveNet vocoder. Interestingly, it has even fewer attention errors than the autoregressive model on the challenging test sentences. Furthermore, we build the first fully parallel neural text-to- speech system by applying the inverse autoregressive flow (IAF) as the parallel neural vocoder. Our system can synthesize speech from text through a single feed-forward pass.


Office worker launches UK's first police facial recognition legal action

The Guardian

An office worker who believes his image was captured by facial recognition cameras when he popped out for a sandwich in his lunch break has launched a groundbreaking legal battle against the use of the technology. Supported by the campaign group Liberty, Ed Bridges, from Cardiff, raised money through crowdfunding to pursue the action, claiming the suspected use of the technology on him by South Wales police was an unlawful violation of privacy. Bridges, 36, claims he was distressed by the apparent use of the technology and is also arguing during a three-day hearing at Cardiff civil justice and family centre that it breaches data protection and equality laws. Facial recognition technology maps faces in a crowd and then compares them to a watchlist of images, which can include suspects, missing people and persons of interest to the police. The cameras scan faces in large crowds in public places such as streets, shopping centres, football crowds and music events such as the Notting Hill carnival.


Some Facebook users don't have the option to turn off facial recognition technology, study finds

Daily Mail - Science & tech

A consumer advocacy group has discovered that not all Facebook users have access to a privacy setting that lets them opt out of the site's facial recognition technology. Consumer Reports examined a set of Facebook accounts and found that a significant number didn't have the ability to toggle off Face Recognition, a feature that uses facial recognition technology to identify users in tagged photos. That's despite Facebook announcing almost two years ago that all users would be able to opt out of facial recognition entirely through the setting. A consumer advocacy group has discovered that not all Facebook users have access to a privacy setting that lets them opt out of the site's facial recognition technology Users can control whether they're part of Facebook's facial recognition technology by selecting'privacy shortcuts' in the righthand corner of their News Feed. From there, select'Control face recognition' under Privacy.


If facial recognition is good enough for Taylor Swift, is it good enough for you?

USATODAY - Tech Top Stories

In this Oct. 31, 2018, file photo, a man, who declined to be identified, has his face painted to represent efforts to defeat facial recognition during a protest at Amazon headquarters over the company's facial recognition system, "Rekognition," in Seattle. San Francisco is on track to become the first U.S. city to ban the use of facial recognition by police and other city agencies. These days, with facial recognition technology, you've got a face that can launch a thousand applications, so to speak. Sure, you may love the ease of opening your phone just by facing it instead of tapping in a code. But how do you feel about having your mug scanned, identifying you as you drive across a bridge, when you board an airplane or to confirm you're not a stalker on your way into a Taylor Swift concert?


UK's controversial use of face recognition to be challenged in court

New Scientist

The first legal battle in the UK over police use of face recognition technology will begin today. Ed Bridges has crowdfunded action against South Wales Police over claims that the use of the technology on him was an unlawful violation of privacy. He will also argue it breaches data protection and equality laws during a three-day hearing at Cardiff Civil Justice and Family Centre. Face recognition technology maps faces in a crowd then compares results with a "watch list" of images which can include suspects, missing people and persons of interest. Police who have trialled the technology hope it can help tackle crime but campaigners argue it breaches privacy and civil liberty.