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Facial recognition's moral dilemma

An illustration of an eye in a triangle
Illustration: Sarah Grillo/Axios

Tech companies that focus on AI-powered computer vision "are struggling to balance business opportunities with difficult moral decisions that could turn off customers or their own workers," the AP's Matt O'Brien reports.

Why it matters: It’s part of a growing wave of concern about how Artificial Intelligence technology is used, especially involving facial recognition, Axios' Ina Fried emails.

Details:

  • A CIA-backed venture capital fund was spurned by Boston startup Affectiva, which makes face scanning tech.
  • CEO Rana el Kaliouby told the AP "it’s not hard to imagine using real-time face recognition to pick up on dishonesty — or, in the hands of an authoritarian regime, to monitor reaction to political speech in order to root out dissent."
  • The CIA's venture arm also approached facial recognition firm Kairos, CEO Brian Brackeen told Axios' Kaveh Waddell.
  • "As the black chief executive of a software company developing facial recognition services, I have a personal connection to the technology, both culturally and socially," Brackeen wrote in an op-ed.

Between the lines: China is apparently avidly investing in, and developing facial recognition tech, Axios' Kia Kokalitcheva emails.

  • "Facial recognition — and more broadly, image recognition — has a range of applications, so everyone from tech giants like Google, Microsoft, and Facebook, to startups have been working on it."
  • That includes "auto-recognition of Facebook photos, image search, detecting road elements, scanning documents — all kinds of applications."

Go deeper: IBM releases image data to improve facial recognition AI

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