HomeTech NewsArtificial IntelligenceIBM abandons facial recognition business: privacy and racial discrimination concerns raised

IBM abandons facial recognition business: privacy and racial discrimination concerns raised

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At IBM it’s over development and sale of software for facial recognition. This was stated by the CEO of the company in a letter sent to the United States Congress. The president of the company not only warns that they are no longer developing and researching this technology, but is asking to reassess whether or not national organizations should use this type of technology.

The letter sent to a total of five senators from the United States Congress includes IBM’s opposition in the use of this technology for purposes such as “mass surveillance, racial profiling, human rights violations, and basic freedoms.” For years, IBM has been one of the largest technology providers in the US government.

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In recent years, facial recognition technology has evolved considerably thanks to the advancement of other technologies such as artificial intelligence. However is often biased by the data it feeds on to improve its precision, as Congresswoman Ocasio-Cortez tried in a way to reflect by confusing terms. On the other hand, it is also known that this automation can be used directly to create racial profiles.


Organizations like MIT have worked to avoid this type of situation. Even IBM itself published in 2018 a gigantic database for facial recognition with which to increase diversity and avoid this type of bias. But of course, IBM has also been accused of categorize and train your AI by the skin color of the analyzed faces with its facial recognition technology. His history also includes using millions of Flickr photos to train his AI. Related to racial discrimination, last year in his job offers he asked the ethnic group of the candidates.

A call for reconsideration of the use of technology

Apart from IBM, others controversial big technology systems used by the authorities Americans are for example Clearview AI or Rekognition from Amazon. The first of these has been embroiled in several privacy violation charges, while Amazon’s Rekognition is known to be used by police from different states.

Facial recognition

Sources tell CNBC that the decision is partly ethical and partly business-based. Facial recognition has not generated significant revenue for IBM in recent times. The company has made the decision in recent months and it has not been something rushed by the current situation in the United States after the death of George Floyd. In fact IBM customers have been previously informed and now it has simply been communicated publicly, they say at Axios.

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The IBM CEO says that “it is time to start a national dialogue on whether facial recognition technology should be used by national law enforcement agencies.” The letter also includes suggestions for legislation it is up to the authorities and how the technology is used in this case.


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