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Microsoft president Brad Smith. Photo: Microsoft

Microsoft wants the U.S. government to start thinking about what limits should be set on the use of face recognition technology. In a blog post, Microsoft also said it is consulting with outside groups to help set its own policies for how it will use and sell such technology.

Why it matters: Face recognition can be used for a range of purposes, from reuniting missing kids to mass surveillance. Currently, there are few rules for those using or selling the technology.

What they're saying: "The only effective way to manage the use of technology by a government is for the government proactively to manage this use itself," Microsoft president Brad Smith said in a blog post. "And if there are concerns about how a technology will be deployed more broadly across society, the only way to regulate this broad use is for the government to do so."

First steps: Microsoft is calling for a bipartisan committee of experts to help inform congressional action.

  • For its own part, Smith said Microsoft is going to move slowly on commercial use of face recognition while it explores what its own policies should be. Notably, though, the company didn't say it would stop work on existing projects or even reject additional ones.

Our thought bubble: Companies may feel safer handing government the hot potato of figuring out where to draw lines around this potentially controversial technology. But government may not be inclined to limit its own freedom to use the new tools.

Counterpoint: If the big companies say no, some upstart would probably seize the opportunity instead. And neither China's government nor its companies are likely considering similar limits, meaning that the U.S. could fall behind on a key emerging technology if it sets too many roadblocks.

Go deeper

Dion Rabouin, author of Markets
1 hour ago - Economy & Business

Investors increase their exuberance

Illustration: Eniola Odetunde/Axios

U.S. stocks jumped across the board on Monday and the S&P 500 had its best day since June 5, as the bulls stepped in and bought the dips in stock prices following last week's minor selloff.

Why it matters: While some have worried rising U.S. interest rates would dampen investor exuberance over the expected pickup in economic growth thanks to increasing vaccine numbers and big fiscal spending hopes, Monday showed investors still like risk assets. A lot.

3 hours ago - World

China and Russia vaccinate the world — for now

Illustration: Aïda Amer/Axios

While the U.S. and Europe focus on vaccinating their own populations, China and Russia are sending millions of COVID-19 vaccine doses to countries around the world.

Why it matters: China's double success in controlling its domestic outbreak and producing several viable vaccines has allowed it to focus on providing doses abroad — an effort that could help to save lives across several continents.

Ina Fried, author of Login
3 hours ago - Technology

China will dominate AI unless U.S. invests more, commission warns

Photo illustration: Axios Visuals. Photo: Krisztian Bocsi/Bloomberg via Getty Images

The U.S., which once had a dominant head start in artificial intelligence, now has just a few years' lead on China and risks being overtaken unless government steps in, according to a new report to Congress and the White House.

Why it matters: Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, who chaired the committee that issued the report, tells Axios that the U.S. risks dire consequences if it fails to both invest in key technologies and fully integrate AI into the military.