IBM Discontinues Facial Recognition Technology

Tech giant says it can't condone "racial profiling" or "mass surveillance."
IBM Discontinues Facial Recognition Technology

International Business Machines Chief Executive Officer Arvind Krishna, on Monday, said the company is no longer offering general-purpose facial recognition or analysis software, CNBC reported.

What Happened

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency,” Krishna wrote in a letter to the United States Congress.

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“We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”

The IBM CEO said artificial intelligence can be a “powerful tool” to help law enforcement keep citizens safe, but there is a need to ensure that the technology is “tested for bias,” and such bias is audited and reported.

[Ed. note: In the letter, Krishna also wrote that “national policy also should encourage and advance uses of technology that bring greater transparency and accountability to policing, such as body cameras and modern data analytics techniques.”]

Sources familiar with the matter told CNBC that the facial recognition business wasn’t profitable to IBM, and the decision was based both on ethical and practical grounds.

Why It Matters

Krishna was writing to Congress calling for police reforms in the aftermath of the death of George Floyd and the resultant widespread protests across the U.S.

Floyd, a Minneapolis black man, died following an encounter with the police, where a white police officer knelt on his neck for 8 minutes and 46 seconds, even as Floyd fell unconscious, an official complaint in the matter said.

The death of Floyd again highlighted the problem of systematic racial profiling in the country. Major technology giants, including Apple and Amazon, have faced criticism for racial bias in their facial recognition technology.

This story originally appeared on Benzinga.

© 2020 Benzinga does not provide investment advice. All rights reserved.

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