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Microsoft Chief Feels That Stopping Facial Recognition For Good Work is Cruel

The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019

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Microsoft President Brad Smith has shot down calls to stop selling facial recognition software to government agencies, saying the move would be “cruel” as it could hamper good work such as diagnosing rare diseases.

According to a report in the Business Insider on Sunday, Smith said the move would be “cruel in the humanitarian effect”.

This came after last month over 85 human rights groups wrote to Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, demanding the companies should stop selling facial recognition software to the governments as it would lead to surveillance.

“I do not understand an argument that companies should avoid all licensing to any government agency for any purpose whatsoever.

“A sweeping ban on all government use clearly goes too far and risks being cruel in its humanitarian effect,” Smith, also Microsoft’s Chief Legal Officer, was quoted as saying.

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Logo of Microsoft outside it’s office. Pixabay

In a blog post in December, Smith had said that given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology.

“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” Smith wrote.

“The time for action has arrived,” he said, adding that the industry must also exercise restraint while using this technology.

Speaking of the benefits of the technology, the Microsoft President mentioned that police in New Delhi recently trialed facial recognition technology and identified almost 3,000 missing children in four days.

Similarly, historians in the US have used the technology to identify the portraits of unknown soldiers in Civil War photographs taken in the 1860s.

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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

“Researchers successfully used facial recognition software to diagnose a rare, genetic disease in Africans, Asians and Latin Americans,” he added.

However, he did warn that widespread use of this technology can lead to new intrusions into people’s privacy.

“The use of facial recognition technology by a government for mass surveillance can encroach on democratic freedoms,” Smith added.

Also Read- Vodafone Idea Integrates 25% of Radio Network Across India

Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology.

The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019. (IANS)

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Microsoft to Increase Skype Group Members to 50

These features have been made available for beta testers on all platforms and are likely roll out more broadly later.

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Microsoft is planning to increase the maximum number of people who could be part of a Skype group. Pixabay

Software giant Microsoft is planning to increase the maximum number of people who could be part of a Skype group call from 25 to 50 members.

With this update, Skype is also enabling the audio and video buttons in larger groups to let users easily mute their microphones or turn their webcams on or off as per their convenience, Engadget reported on Friday.

Keeping the call ringing feature completely optional, Skype Version 8.41.76.55 would notify users of an incoming call by just sending a notification on the group.

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Skype is also enabling the audio and video buttons in larger groups to let users easily mute their microphones or turn their webcams on or off as per their convenience. Wikimedia

“When you start a call in groups, it will send a notification instead of ringing all the members, to not interrupt those who can’t join,” the company wrote in a blog-post.

ALSO READ: Facebook Rolls Out Gaming Tab As a Part of The App

These features have been made available for beta testers on all platforms and are likely roll out more broadly later. (IANS)