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Microsoft Calls for Facial Recognition Technology Rules Given ‘Potential for Abuse’

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself, the Microsoft President added

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Microsoft introduced Cortana on Windows Phone four years ago. In Windows 10, it became the core search functionality.Pixabay

At a time when facial recognition technology is fast becoming a part of our lives, Microsoft has become the first tech giant to initiate a call for regulations to limit the technology that can be used for mass surveillance affecting civil liberties.

In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.

“We believe US Congress should create a bipartisan expert commission to assess the best way to regulate the use of facial recognition technology in the US,” Smith said.

The purpose of such a commission “should include advice to Congress on what types of new laws and regulations are needed, as well as stronger practices to ensure proper congressional oversight of this technology across the executive branch”, the Microsoft President noted.

Several tech companies, including Microsoft, have utilised face-recognition technology in the past several years to turn time-consuming work to catalog photos into something both instantaneous and useful.

However, Microsoft has already rejected requests to deploy the technology in situations involving “human rights risks”, Smith informed.

Smith earlier called for a new digital Geneva Convention that commits governments to defending and protecting civilians from state-sponsored cyber-attacks.

“We live in a nation of laws, and the government needs to play an important role in regulating facial recognition technology.

“A world with vigorous regulation of products that are useful but potentially troubling is better than a world devoid of legal standards,” Smith suggested.

In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour.
In a blog post on Friday, Microsoft President Brad Smith said a government initiative to regulate the proper use of facial recognition technology is the need of the hour. Pixabay

The computer-assisted facial recognition can recognise people’s faces from a photo or through a camera.

This technology can catalog your photos, help reunite families or potentially be misused and abused by private companies and public authorities alike.

“Facial recognition technology raises issues that go to the heart of fundamental human rights protections like privacy and freedom of expression,” Smith wrote.

In recent weeks, a group of Amazon employees objected to its contract with the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), while reiterating concerns raised by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) about law enforcement’s use of facial recognition technology.

IT company Salesforce’s employees have raised the same issues related to immigration authorities and these agencies’ use of their products.

Also Read: Microsoft Team is Now Available to Use for Free

“Demands increasingly are surfacing for tech companies to limit the way government agencies use facial recognition and other technology,” Smith said.

The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself, the Microsoft President added.

Issues relating to facial recognition go well beyond the borders of the US and “it requires active engagement by governments, academics, tech companies and civil society internationally”.

“As we move forward, we’re committed to establishing a transparent set of principles for facial recognition technology that we will share with the public,” Smith informed. (IANS)

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AI Helping Differently-abled to Become More Independent: Microsoft

The showcase will feature technology-based projects from non-profit organisations, assistive technologies developed by leading technology companies, Microsoft partners as well as Microsoft solutions, the company added

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A man walks past a Microsoft sign set up for the Microsoft BUILD conference at Moscone Center in San Francisco, April 28, 2015. VOA

Cloud and Artificial Intelligence (AI) solutions are empowering differently-abled people with tools that support independence and productivity, a top Microsoft executive said here on Friday.

The software giant last year launched its five-year, $25 million “AI for Accessibility” programme that harnesses the power of AI to amplify human capability for the more than one billion people around the world with a disability.

“At Microsoft, we believe there are no limits to what people can achieve when technology reflects the diversity of everyone who uses it,” Sriram Rajamani, Managing Director, Microsoft Research India, said on the inaugural day of the two-day “Accessibility Summit – Empowering for Inclusion” here.

Real time speech-to-text transcription, computer vision capabilities and predictive text functionality are just a few examples of how AI is useful to people with disabilities.

Microsoft
Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

Inaugurating the summit, Shakuntala Doley Gamlin, Secretary, Department of Empowerment of Persons with Disabilities at the Social Justice and Empowerment Ministry, said that a strong public-private partnership can go a long way in empowering the differently-abled with equal access and opportunity.

Microsoft hosted the summit in collaboration with the National Association of the Deaf and National Centre for Promotion of Employment of Disabled People (NCPEPD), a non-profit organisation.

Also Read- Hacker Who Stole Over 600 mn Account Details Strikes Again

The two-day conference will also combine a rich mix of master classes and access to Microsoft’s “AI for Accessibility” resources for the developer community with a showcase of inclusive technology, Microsoft said.

The showcase will feature technology-based projects from non-profit organisations, assistive technologies developed by leading technology companies, Microsoft partners as well as Microsoft solutions, the company added. (IANS)