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IBM will no longer work on facial recognition software

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As much as it scares me to say it, it’s clear that artificial intelligence is very much in our future. With the development of new hardware, faster processing and smarter machine learning algorithms coming our way, it’s only a matter of time until many jobs could easily be replaced by our never tiring computer counterparts and that at some point in time, AI could possibly reach some level of sentience.

Not all aspects of all are well received though with facial recognition technology one of those that gets a lot of scrutiny as governments and companies can utilise it for a variety of purposes, some beneficial, some not so. It’s for this reason though that IBM has announced, though CEO Arvind Krishna in a letter to the US Government that they are no longer develop or researching the technology, a they believe that laws around it first need to be established:

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. 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

I have no doubt that this decision from IBM comes in the wake of the massive drive around the Black Lives Matter movement which has also seen facial recognition and AI showing a racial bias towards black people, even if unintended. I think with the technology continuing to evolve, it’s likely to only get more powerful, but also potentially more dangerous and that governments should definitely step in and find ways of regulating it. And not just for facial recognition, but all artificial intelligence systems that are used for surveillance or monitoring purpose and how it impacts on the rights of people.

Last Updated: June 10, 2020

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