California law enforcement agency recently requested Microsoft to install facial recognition technology in their officers’ cars and body cameras. Microsoft rejected their request over human rights concerns, Microsoft president Brad Smith said.
According to Microsoft, it would lead to discrimination against innocent women and minorities being unfairly held for questioning. Microsoft also said that artificial intelligence (AI) has been trained predominantly with white male pictures.
Many cases and incidents have been reported in the past where AI failed to identify women and minoities. In fact, many studies and research projects in the past have pointed out bias in artificial intelligence (AI).
“Anytime they pulled anyone over, they wanted to run a face scan. We said this technology is not your answer,” Smith Said while speaking at a Stanford University conference on ‘human-centered artificial intelligence.’
Smith said Microsoft had also rejected the deal to install facial recognition on cameras covering the capital city of an unnamed country that the nonprofit Freedom House had deemed not free. Smith said it would have affected the freedom of assembly there.
However, Microsoft agreed to provide facial recognition technology to a prison in the U.S. after concluded that the environment would be limited and safety would be improved.
Smith reiterated the company’s commitment to human rights, which according to Smith is increasingly critical as technological innovations empower government institutions to conduct blanket surveillance, use autonomous weapons and take other steps leading to irreversible damage.
In December, Microsoft said it would be open about deficiencies pertaining to its facial recognition. The company also asked customers to be honest about how they intended to use it while stopping short of ruling out sales to police.
Smith called for greater administration of facial recognition and other uses of AI. Smith warned that without regulations, companies gathering the most data might win the race to develop the best AI in a “race to the bottom.”
United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights, Michelle Bachelet was also present at the event. Bachelet urged tech companies to refrain from building new tools without weighing their impact.
“Please embody the human rights approach when you are developing technology,” said Bachelet.