Amazon, Microsoft & IBM Slightly Social Distancing From The $8 Billion Facial Recognition Market

CBx Vibe:Pretty Little Fears” 6LACK Feat. J.Cole

By CultureBanx Team

  • Amazon, Microsoft and IBM are marginally stepping away from their home grown facial recognition technologies
  • IBM was found to have misidentified gender in up to 35% of darker-skinned females

As pressure on tech companies builds in response to the killing of George Floyd by a police officer Amazon (AMZN -0.51%), Microsoft (MSFT +0.79%) and IBM (IBM +3.30%) are marginally stepping away from their home grown facial recognition technologies. IBM was the first domino with plans on exiting the facial recognition business. Amazon is putting in place a one-year hold on police departments using its facial “Rekognition” technology, and Microsoft is waiting on new legislation before it starts selling a comparable product to law enforcement. Are these baby steps really enough to stymie concerns over whether or not big tech is exacerbating racial profiling and bias?

Why This Matters: Datasets used to create facial recognition software lack diversity, causing a surge in misidentification, particularly among women and people of color. Many critics have called for justification for the use of facial recognition technology and in some cases an all-out ban, even as artificial intelligence continues to be a billion dollar industry. A report published by Market Research Future found the global market for facial recognition is set to surpass a valuation of $8 billion in 2022 up from $3.04 billion in 2016. Perhaps this is why all three of these companies are not so willing to completely end their facial recognition platforms.

Amazon had been selling its facial recognition program to police departments across the U.S.

Among other tech giants, IBM was found to have misidentified gender in up to 7% of lighter-skinned females, up to 12% of darker-skinned males, and up to 35% of darker-skinned females. However, IBM’s facial recognition efforts were already minimal, and the Associated Press noted the decision is “unlikely to affect its bottom line.” Not to mention IBM still seems to be providing police departments with crime-predicting AI, which could lead to racial bias.

Amazon had been selling its facial recognition program to police departments across the U.S. for quite some time now, all while knowing the inherent error rates for people of color. Law enforcement agencies are using facial recognition more frequently in routine policing. This unfairly affects African Americans who have been historically targeted for arrests.

Situational Awareness: The Washington Post noted that announcements from Amazon and Microsoft apply only to police use of the technology. Unfortunately, neither company mentioned whether it will contract with federal agencies, like ICE or the Defense Department, that regularly use facial recognition technology.

CBx Vibe:Pretty Little Fears” 6LACK Feat. J.Cole

CONTRIBUTOR

CultureBanx Team

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