Face detection technology that Amazon According to researchers from MIT and the University of Toronto, marketing to law enforcement often misidentifies women, especially those with darker skin.
Privacy and civil rights advocates have asked Amazon to stop marketing their Recognition Service due to concerns about discrimination against minorities. Some Amazon investors have also asked the company to stop fearing that Amazon is vulnerable to the lawsuits.
The researchers said that in their tests, Amazon’s technology classified dark-skinned women as men 31 percent of the time. Lighter-skinned women were misidentified 7 percent of the time. Darker-skinned men had a 1% error rate, while lighter-skinned men had none.
Artificial intelligence can mimic the biases of its human creators as they go through everyday life. The new study, released Thursday night, warns of the potential for abuse and threats to privacy and civil liberties from face-sensing technology.
Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence at Amazon’s cloud computing unit, said the study uses “facial analysis” and not “facial recognition” technology. Wood said facial analysis “can detect faces in video or images and assign generic attributes, such as wearing glasses; Recognition is a different technique whereby an individual face is combined with faces in videos and images. “
In a post on the Medium website on Friday, MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini responded that companies should review all systems that scan human faces for bias.
“If you sell a system that has been shown to have bias in human faces, it is doubtful that your other face-based products are also completely free of bias,” he wrote.
Amazon’s reaction shows that it does not take seriously the “really serious concerns revealed by this study,” said Jacob Snow, a lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union.
Buolamwini and Inioluwa Deborah Raji of the University of Toronto said they studied Amazon’s technology because the company has commercialized it to enforce the law. Raji’s LinkedIn account says that she is currently a researcher for artificial intelligence at Google, which competes with Amazon to offer cloud computing services.
Buolamwini and Raji say that Microsoft and IBM have improved their facial recognition technology since researchers discovered similar problems in a May 2017 study. Their second study, which included Amazon, was conducted in August 2018. Their paper will be presented. Monday at an artificial intelligence conference in Honolulu.
Wood said Amazon has updated its technology since the study and conducted its own analysis with “zero false positive matches.”
The Amazon website credits Rekognition with helping the Washington County Sheriff’s Office in Oregon speed up the time it took to identify suspects from hundreds of thousands of photographic records.
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