Briefing

IBM will no longer develop facial recognition technology because it’s used for racial profiling

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In a letter to Congress, CEO Arvind Krishna, who took the role in April, said the company opposes any technology used “for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms,” and called for a “national dialogue” on how domestic law enforcement agencies use the technology. (The Verge)

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Talking point: IBM’s decision comes as technology companies face increased scrutiny over their contracts with police amid violent crackdowns on peaceful protests over the killing of George Floyd. Experts have long said facial recognition systems are biased. A study by the U.S. National Institute of Standards and Technology last year confirmed that the majority of facial recognition algorithms performed worse on non-white faces. Last year, 2.4 per cent of Amazon shareholders voted in favour of banning the sale of its facial recognition technology to government agencies. Amazon, whose founder Jeff Bezos came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement last week, has refused to answer questions on the topic. Krishna’s letter also called for new federal rules to crack down on police misconduct, and more training and education for in-demand skills to improve economic opportunities for people of colour.