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3 Apr 2019

Cade Metz & Natasha Singer, The New York Times

A.I. experts question Amazon's facial recognition technology

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At least 25 prominent artificial-intelligence researchers, including experts at Google, Facebook, Microsoft and a recent winner of the prestigious Turing Award, have signed a letter calling on Amazon to stop selling its facial-recognition technology to law enforcement agencies because it is biased against women and people of color... Some researchers — and even some companies — are arguing the technology cannot be properly controlled without government regulation... “There are no laws or required standards to ensure that Rekognition is used in a manner that does not infringe on civil liberties,” the A.I. researchers wrote. “We call on Amazon to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement.”

... An Amazon spokeswoman responded, saying that the company had updated its Rekognition service since the M.I.T. researchers completed their study and that it had found no differences in error rates by gender and race when running similar tests... Microsoft, by contrast, improved the accuracy of its facial recognition last year after an earlier M.I.T. study reported that its system was better at identifying the gender of lighter-skinned men in a photo database than darker-skinned women... Amazon has said that it has not received any reports of Rekognition misuse by law enforcement, and that the company’s acceptable use policy prohibits customers from using its services in ways that violate laws.