IBM Does an About-Face on Facial Recognition Technology: Business Casual

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On this Business Casual snippet, Tyler Kern, Taylor Bagley and Daniel Litwin discuss an announcement made my IBM on June 8th regarding the tech giant’s intention to stop offering facial recognition software for “mass surveillance or racial profiling”.

In 2019, a study conducted by the Massachusetts Institute of Technology found that none of the facial recognition tools from Microsoft, Amazon and IBM were 100% accurate when it came to recognizing men and women with dark skin. Further, a study from the US National Institute of Standards and Technology suggested facial recognition algorithms were far less accurate at identifying African-American and Asian faces compared with Caucasian ones. In a world currently riding the shockwaves of social unrest and protests calling for police reform in the wake of George Floyd’s death while being apprehended by officers in Minneapolis, this technological bias in gear provided to policing organizations has definitely been put under the microscope.

In support of IBMs move to abandon ‘biased’ facial recognition tech, Chief Executive Arvind Krishna, stated, “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”.

As the first major company to back out of a technology largely used by law enforcement, the Business Casual dynamic duo break down Krishna’s letter to congress urging action against police malfeasance as well as more regulation on how law enforcement uses facial recognition technology, two different studies of Amazon’s facial recognition system by the ACLU which resulted in both Congress members and professional athletes being falsely matched with images of those in a mugshot database, whether IBM’s decision was based solely on current racially-charged events or just part of an ongoing massive restructuring within the company, and much more.

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