facial

Big Companies Freeze Sale of Facial Recognition Technology to US Police Departments

Facial recognition technology takes advantage of modern computers’ ultra-high speeds to filter through a database of images and help identify a person. The technology is commonly used on a small scale in order to allow employees entry into their building, but it can also be used on a much larger scale, like in the movies when the audience waits in suspense while the CIA uses a computer to refine search results of a suspect before dramatically revealing a match. For that and many other reasons, this new tech has been met with a great deal of controversy — which is exactly why the newest generation of facial recognition has been put on the back burner, for now.

Graphic depicting advanced facial recognition tech being used on a young woman.
Graphic depicting advanced facial recognition tech being used on a young woman.

Major tech companies including IBM, Amazon, and Microsoft have agreed to stop selling facial recognition systems to law enforcement until

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Wary of big tech’s bottom line, activists greet facial recognition pledges with skepticism

Over the course of four days last week, three of America’s largest technology companies — IBM, Amazon and Microsoft — announced sweeping restrictions on their sale of facial recognition tools and called for federal regulation amid protests across the United States against police violence and racial profiling.

In terms of headlines, it was a symbolic shift for the industry. Researchers and civil liberties groups who have been calling for strict controls or outright bans on the technology for years are celebrating, although cautiously.

They doubt, however, that much has changed. The careful wording of the public pledges leaves plenty of room for oppressive uses of the technology, which exacerbate human biases and infringe on people’s constitutional freedoms, critics say.

“It shows that organizing and socially informed research works,” said Meredith Whittaker, co-founder of the AI Now Institute, which researches the social implications of artificial intelligence. “But do I

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