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Last Week in AI #69

Stopping police use of face recognition, #ShutdownSTEM, and more!

Last Week in AI #69

Image credit: MS TECH | GETTY via MIT Technology Review

Mini Briefs

The two-year fight to stop Amazon from selling face recognition to the police

Since 2018, studies in commercial face recognition systems have consistently revealed that these products perform worse for people of color. For instance, a study in 2019 found that in a gender classification task, Amazon’s Rekognition performed 31.4% worse for darker-skinned female faces when compared to lighter-skinned male faces.

When these flawed systems are applied by law enforcement, they can place people of color at higher risk due to the higher error rate. Even if these systems worked perfectly, they can still be “easily weaponized against communities to harass them.”

Earlier this week, in response to recent national protests and dialogues, IBM announced it would no longer develop and offer face recognition technology. Microsoft followed suit, announcing that it would stop selling face recognition technology to policy departments until federal regulations were in place. Amazon, which initially discredited the resesarch that showed the biases in Rekognition, has also placed a one year moratorium on police use of the face recognition system.

Currently, House and Senate Democrats are introducing a police reform bill that limits face recognition in law enforcement. Many see this bill and the recent responses from tech companies as promising starting points. However, but more pressure is needed to ensure fair and ethical uses of face recognition and other AI technologies with significant social impacts.

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Expert Opinions & Discussion within the field

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