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Facial recognition helps mom and dad see kids' camp photos, raises privacy concerns for some

USATODAY

A photo from a summer camp posted to the camp's website so parents can view them. Venture capital-backed Waldo Photos has been selling the service to identify specific children in the flood of photos provided daily to parents by many sleep-away camps. Camps working with the Austin, Texas-based company give parents a private code to sign up. When the camp uploads photos taken during activities to its website, Waldo's facial recognition software scans for matches in the parent-provided headshots. Once it finds a match, the Waldo system (as in "Where's Waldo?") then automatically texts the photos to the child's parents.


Microsoft urges government to take lead in managing facial recognition technology

The Japan Times

SEATTLE – Microsoft, which has come under fire for a U.S. government contract that was said to involve facial recognition software, said it will more carefully consider contracts in this area and urged lawmakers to regulate the use of such artificial intelligence to prevent abuse. The company, one of the key makers of software capable of recognizing individual faces, said it will take steps to make those systems less prone to bias, develop new public principles to govern the technology and move more deliberately to sell its software and expertise in the area. While Microsoft noted that the tech industry bears responsibility for its products, the company argued that government action is also needed. "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said Friday in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so.


Microsoft Calls for AI Face Recognition Software Regulation

#artificialintelligence

Microsoft Corp., which has come under fire for a U.S. government contract that was said to involve facial recognition software, said it will more carefully consider contracts in this area and urged lawmakers to regulate the use of such artificial intelligence to prevent abuse. The company, one of the key makers of software capable of recognizing individual faces, said it will take steps to make those systems less prone to bias; develop new public principles to govern the technology; and will move more deliberately to sell its software and expertise in the area. While Microsoft noted that the tech industry bears responsibility for its products, the company argued that government action is also needed. "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft President and Chief Legal Officer Brad Smith said Friday in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so.


NSA Spy Buildings, Facebook Data, and More Security News This Week

WIRED

It has been, to be quite honest, a fairly bad week, as far as weeks go. But despite the sustained downbeat news, a few good things managed to happen as well. California has passed the strongest digital privacy law in the United States, for starters, which as of 2020 will give customers the right to know what data companies use, and to disallow those companies from selling it. It's just the latest in a string of uncommonly good bits of privacy news, which included last week's landmark Supreme Court decision in Carpenter v. US. That ruling will require law enforcement to get a warrant before accessing cell tower location data.


Amazon employees protest sale of facial recognition software to police

#artificialintelligence

Workers at Amazon have demanded that their employer stop the sale of facial recognition software and other services to the US government. In a letter addressed to Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos and posted on the company's internal wiki, employees said that they "refuse to contribute to tools that violate human rights," citing the mistreatment of refugees and immigrants by ICE and the targeting of black activists by law enforcement. The letter follows similar protests at Google and Microsoft. "As ethically concerned Amazonians, we demand a choice in what we build, and a say in how it is used," says the letter, first reported by The Hill. The employees (it's not clear how many signed the letter) refer to the sale of computer services by IBM to the Nazis as a worrying parallel.


Amazon Employees Ask Bezos To Stop Selling Facial Recognition To Cops

Forbes Technology

Amazon staff have called on founder and chief executive Jeff Bezos to stop sales of AWS Rekognition facial recognition tech to U.S. law enforcement. Amazon employees have written a letter to CEO Jeff Bezos in which they ask the company to stop selling its facial recognition tool to American law enforcement. The tech giant's sales to U.S. cops was revealed by an American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) investigation earlier this month, as it emerged Amazon Web Services' Rekognition tool was shipped to police in Florida and Oregon. The cost of the tool was also revealed to be remarkably low, as evidenced by a Forbes test of the product, in which a facial recognition project was set up for free across the publication's Jersey City and London offices. In a letter posted to an internal forum, first revealed by The Hill and published in full by Gizmodo, some employees expressed the same concerns as the ACLU about the power of Amazon's Rekognition being abused by American officers.


Employees ask Amazon not to sell face recognition to law enforcement

Engadget

A group of Amazon employees has penned a letter to company chief Jeff Bezos, asking him to stop selling facial recognition to law enforcement. They said that "in the midst of historic militarization of police, renewed targeting of Black activists, and the growth of a federal deportation force currently engaged in human rights abuses," Amazon's facial recognition software will surely serve as a powerful surveillance tool for the government. They also pointed out that a tool like it will "ultimately serve to harm the most marginalized." The employees wrote the letter after an American Civil Liberties Union investigation revealed that the tech giant sells its Rekognition facial detection system to law enforcement customers. Orlando's police chief admitted that the city's cops are testing the software in their headquarters and in a few places downtown.


Google Backtracks, Says Its AI Will Not Be Used for Weapons or Surveillance

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Google is committing to not using artificial intelligence for weapons or surveillance after employees protested the company's involvement in Project Maven, a Pentagon pilot program that uses artificial intelligence to analyse drone footage. However, Google says it will continue to work with the United States military on cybersecurity, search and rescue, and other non-offensive projects. Google CEO Sundar Pichai announced the change in a set of AI principles released today. The principles are intended to govern Google's use of artificial intelligence and are a response to employee pressure on the company to create guidelines for its use of AI. Employees at the company have spent months protesting Google's involvement in Project Maven, sending a letter to Pichai demanding that Google terminate its contract with the Department of Defense.


We Built A Powerful Amazon Facial Recognition Tool For Under $10

Forbes Technology

The democratization of mass surveillance is upon us. Insanely cheap tools with the power to track individuals en masse are now available for anyone to use, as exemplified by a Forbes test of an Amazon facial recognition product, Rekognition, that made headlines last month. Jeff Bezos' behemoth of a business is seen by most as a consumer-driven business, not a provider of easy-to-use spy tech. But as revealed by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) last week, Amazon Web Services (AWS) is shipping Rekognition to various U.S. police departments. And because Rekognition is open to all, Forbes decided to try out the service.


The Boy who cried Robot: The Black Swan Singularity

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"There can be no gainsaying of the fact that a great revolution is taking place in the world today. In a sense it is a triple revolution: that is, a technological revolution, with the impact of automation and cybernation; then there is a revolution in weaponry, with the emergence of atomic and nuclear weapons of warfare; then there is a human rights revolution, with the freedom explosion that is taking place all over the world. Yes, we do live in a period where changes are taking place." There once was a shepherd boy who was bored as he sat on the hillside watching the village sheep. To amuse himself he took a great breath and sang out, "Wolf!