Microsoft has said it turned down a request from law enforcement in California to use its facial recognition technology in police body cameras and cars, reports Reuters. Speaking at an event at Stanford University, Microsoft president Brad Smith said the company was concerned that the technology would disproportionately affect women and minorities. Past research has shown that because facial recognition technology is trained primarily on white and male faces, it has higher error rates for other individuals. "Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan," said Smith of the unnamed law enforcement agency. "We said this technology is not your answer."
Voted and approved by state assembly and the senate, New York will suspend implementation of AI facial recognition technology in schools for two years on Wednesday. State Governor Andrew Cuomo has signed the legislation into law. The decision is the aftermath of a lawsuit filed in June by the New York Civil Liberties Union on behalf of student parents, whose school district adopted the technology earlier this year. Facial recognition technology remains the most controversial AI deployment in the United States: cities like San Francisco, Somerville, and Oakland have already banned the technology in 2019. Moreover, a letter was sent to the US Privacy and Civil Liberties Board (PCLOB) in January, requesting the US government to halt relevant applications while waiting for further review.
The field of AI is rapidly advancing, and pretty soon, we will get to the point where we no longer even have to search for something to find it. We will simply be able to point our smartphone cameras at it, and the AI algorithms will take care of the rest. Even though a lot of companies have been at the forefront of adopting this technology into their service offering, for the most part, it is still being used to extract information from a given image. In order to train the AI algorithms to identify objects or people in an image, researchers input lots of annotated data into the system so it can learn to recognize whatever is needed. The image data can be virtually in any form, such as video, views from many cameras, multi-dimensional data, and many other types.
Boston will become the second largest city in the US to ban facial recognition software for government use after a unanimous city council vote. Following San Francisco, which banned facial recognition in 2019, Boston will bar city officials from using facial recognition systems. The ordinance will also bar them from working with any third party companies or organizations to acquire information gathered through facial recognition software. The ordinance was co-sponsored by Councilors Ricardo Arroyo and Michelle Wu, who were especially concerned about the potential for racial bias in the technology, according to a report from WBUR. 'Boston should not be using racially discriminatory technology and technology that threatens our basic rights,' Wu said at a hearing before the vote.