Business Essentials for Professionals


IBM Exits Facial Recognition Segment Over Concerns Of Human Rights Concerns

IBM Exits Facial Recognition Segment Over Concerns Of Human Rights Concerns
With the tech giants of the United States coming under fire for extending technology for facial recognition to government agencies, it has beared down hard on the public image of the companies.  
This backlash has now forced tech giant IBM to announce that the company was exiting its “general purpose” facial recognition business. The company conveyed this information to the Congress through a letter that was addressed by the IBM chief Arvind Krishna.
According to Krishna, the use of the facial recognition technology for surveillance, racial profiling and “violations of basic human rights and freedoms” is “firmly opposed” by the company, IBM said. Krishna instead suggested that the current situation demanded the initiation of a “national dialogue” on not only how facial recognition should be used, but whether to use the technology at all.
The use of facial recognition technology had to be kept in check with audited tests for bias because AI was a “powerful tool” for law enforcement, the CEO contended in the letter. The company also said that there should be a more focus on use of technology for enhancement of accountability and transparency, such as the use of body cameras.
This announcement by IBM through the letter to the US Congress is part of a broader call on the Congress to enforce greater and broader police accountability and conduct reforms, including a number of those that have already been suggested by the recently introduced Justice in Policing Act of 2020.
This move by IBM comes at a time when there have been widespread protests all across the US over police brutality and discrimination. Further, it is has not been long that the controversy and issues regarding Clearview AI’s facial recognition raised privacy and bias had become a topic for hot debate in the country,
There have been multiple technical reports that have concluded that the use and the outcome of facial recognition systems could be biased against non-whites and women, particularly if the data used to train the AI algorithms behind facial recognition does not include enough examples of people from such non-white groups. And even though there are some facial recognition systems that only uses publicly available data to correlate faces and try to identify them with those in existing data, groups have raised concerns that this usage of facial recognition could be unduely utilized for tracking and profile generation that could be used to intimidate people or otherwise limit their real-world privacy.
Critics have however noted that since facial recognition was not a major contributor to the bottom line of IBM, therefore it was relatively easy for the company to exit the business. This could however create a media buzz since IBM is still a major tech company of the world and it often has business relations with governments. However some analysts say that this move by IBM could also prompt other such facial recognition service and technology providers to follow suit and could even force some would-be customers to drop facial recognition entirely.

Christopher J. Mitchell

Markets | Companies | M&A | Innovation | People | Management | Lifestyle | World | Misc