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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.

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“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

Microsoft Launches Smart Phonetic Keyboards for 10 Indian Languages

The updated keyboards have automatically been made available with the recent Windows 10 update

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Logo of Microsoft outside it's office. Pixabay

In a bid to further allow users personalise their Windows 10 experience, software giant Microsoft on Monday launched smart phonetic keyboards for 10 Indian languages as part of its May 2019 update.

The updated phonetic keyboards have been made available in languages including Hindi, Bangla, Tamil and Marathi amongst others, the company said in a statement.

The keyboards would allow users to work in their preferred languages without having to purchase customised Indic hardware keyboards or stickers.

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FILE – A man types on a computer keyboard in this illustration, Feb. 28, 2013. VOA

The technology would let users input transliterated text using the existing keyboards and then convert text from one script to another, depending on the target language.

The new tools would not only help in making computing inclusive, but they are also expected to improve typing speed and accuracy in Indian languages by at least 20 per cent along with making it easier to make regional symbols like the Indian numerals easier to input, the company said.

Also Read- E-vehicle Sector for Priority-lending, R&D Incentives in Budget

With this, the software giant moves forward in its aim to integrate virtual keyboards as part of its Windows operating system.

The updated keyboards have automatically been made available with the recent Windows 10 update. (IANS)