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Microsoft Rejects California Law Enforcement Agency’s Request To Install Facial Recognition in Officers’ Cars

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

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Brad Smith of Microsoft takes part in a panel discussion "Cyber, big data and new technologies. Current Internet Governance Challenges: What's Next?" at the United Nations in Geneva, Nov. 9, 2017. VOA

Microsoft recently rejected a California law enforcement agency’s request to install facial recognition technology in officers’ cars and body cameras because of human rights concerns, company President Brad Smith said Tuesday.

Microsoft concluded it would lead to innocent women and minorities being disproportionately held for questioning because the artificial intelligence has been trained on mostly white, male pictures.

AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found.

“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan” against a database of suspects, Smith said without naming the agency. After thinking through the uneven impact, “we said this technology is not your answer.”

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Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police. Pixabay

Prison contract accepted

Speaking at a Stanford University conference on “human-centered artificial intelligence,” Smith said Microsoft had also declined a deal to install facial recognition on cameras blanketing the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have suppressed freedom of assembly there.

On the other hand, Microsoft did agree to provide the technology to an American prison, after the company concluded that the environment would be limited and that it would improve safety inside the unnamed institution.

Smith explained the decisions as part of a commitment to human rights that he said was increasingly critical as rapid technological advances empower governments to conduct blanket surveillance, deploy autonomous weapons and take other steps that might prove impossible to reverse.

‘Race to the bottom’

Microsoft said in December it would be open about shortcomings in its facial recognition and asked customers to be transparent about how they intended to use it, while stopping short of ruling out sales to police.

Smith has called for greater regulation of facial recognition and other uses of artificial intelligence, and he warned Tuesday that without that, companies amassing the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”

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AI has more cases of mistaken identity with women and minorities, multiple research projects have found. Pixabay

He shared the stage with the United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet, who urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact.

Also Read: ‘Dirty Cops’ Ahead of Mueller Report Release, U.S. President Donald Trump Takes Stand

“Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet, a former president of Chile.

Microsoft spokesman Frank Shaw declined to name the prospective customers the company turned down. (VOA)

Next Story

Artificial Intelligence Creating New Possibilities for Personalisation This Year

Tech companies today are also attempting to bridge the gap between academia and the career market

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Artificial Intelligence (AI) and cross-industry collaborations are creating new avenues for data collection and offering personalised services to users this year, according to a report.

Among other technology trends that are picking up this year are the convergence of the smart home and healthcare, autonomous vehicles coming for last-mile delivery and data becoming a hot-button geopolitical issue, according to the report titled “14 Trends Shaping Tech” from CB Insights.

“As a more tech-savvy generation ages up, we’ll see the smart home begin acting as a kind of in-home health aide, monitoring senior citizens’ health and well being. We’ll see logistics players experiment with finally moving beyond a human driver,” said the report.

“And we’ll see cross-industry collaborations, whether via ancestry-informed Spotify playlists or limited edition Fortnite game skins,” it added.

In September 2018, Spotify partnered with Ancestry.com to utilise DNA data to create unique playlists for individuals.

Playlists reflect music linked to different ethnicities and regions. A person with ancestral roots in Bengaluru, for example, might see Carnatic violinists and Kannada film songs on their playlists.

DNA data is also informing how we eat. GenoPalate, for example, collects DNA info through saliva samples and analyses physiological components like an individual’s ability to absorb certain vitamins or how fast they can metabolize nutrients.

From there, it matches this information to nutrition analyses that it has conducted on a wide range of food and suggests a personalised diet. It also sells its own meal kits that use this information to map out menus.

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“Artificial intelligence is now one of the fastest-growing areas in all of science and one of the most talked-about topics in society.” VOA

“We’ll also see technology brands expand beyond their core products and turn themselves into a lifestyle,” said the report.

For example, as electric vehicle users need to wait for their batteries to charge for anywhere from 30 minutes to two hours, the makers of these vehicles are trying to turn this idle time into an asset.

China’s NioHouse couples charging stations with a host of activities. At the NioHouse, a user can visit the library, drop children off at daycare, co-work, and even visit a nap pod to rest while charging.

Nio has also partnered with fashion designer Hussein Chalayan to launch and sell a fashion line, Nio Extreme.

Also Read- YouTube Working to Overhaul its Verification Programme

Tech companies today are also attempting to bridge the gap between academia and the career market.

Companies like the Lambda School and Flatiron School offer courses to train students on exactly the skills they will need to get a job, said the report.

These apprenticeships mostly focus on tech skills like computer science and coding. Training comes with the explicit goal of employment and students only need to pay their tuition once they have landed a job that pays them above a certain range.

Investors are also betting on the rise of digital goods. While these goods cannot be owned in the physical world, they come with clout, and offer personalisation and in-game experiences to otherwise one-size-fits-all characters, the research showed. (IANS)