IBM Will Not Provide Facial Recognition Services Anymore

  • AUTHOR: isbah
  • POSTED ON: June 9, 2020

IBM CEO Arvind Krishna wrote a letter to Congress, saying that the company will no longer offer general-purpose facial recognition or analysis software. IBM will also not develop or research the technology and Krishna made it quite clear in his letter to Senators Cory Booker (D-NJ) and Kamala Harris (D-CA) and Reps. Karen Bass (D-CA), Hakeem Jeffries (D-NY), and Jerrold Nadler (D-NY).

Source: The Verge

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any [facial recognition] technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,”
Krishna said in the letter. “We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”

In the last ten years, artificial intelligence has advanced so much that facial recognition has become almost flawless. However, the developers are mostly private so they have little or no regard for general safety. This is why the facial recognition features have been employed a lot by governments and authorities to keep a mass surveillance record on the civilians, resulting in racial profiling and injustice inflicted on people of color.

A research conducted by Joy Buolamwini and Timnit Gebru revealed that almost all facial recognition systems, including IBM, were heavily biased. A December 2019 National Institute of Standards and Technology study found “empirical evidence for the existence of a wide range of accuracy across demographic differences in the majority of the current face recognition algorithms that were evaluated,” for example.
This means that the invasion of privacy is also a major issue when it comes to facial prevention programs.

NIST’s study did not mention technology from Amazon even though it is one of the major tech companies associated with the government. Yet Rekognition is the name of the program that has always been under fire for its accuracy as the American Civil Liberties Union found that Rekognition matched 28 members of the Congress to faces acquired from 25,000 public mugshots in 2018.

After the report released in 2018, IBM tried to minimize the misuse of facial recognition by making the system more secure. The company said that individuals can opt-out of the dataset even though it can only be accessed by verified researchers. However, it has now decided to completely pull back from this technology.

In his letter to Congress, Krishna also mentioned police brutality and how it has been exploiting the system for a long time. He asked the members to take strict action against all the security forces who have misused the facial recognition system for racism and personal agendas.

In addition, Krishna said that “we need to create more open and equitable pathways for all Americans to acquire marketable skills and training.”

Updated June 9, 2020
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