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AWS CEO Believes Facial Recognition Software Benefits Outweigh Potential Dangers

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AWS CEO Believes Facial Recognition Software Benefits Outweigh Potential Dangers

Amazon employees: ''We won't build it.''

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Despite objections from employees, law enforcement officers, and the ACLU, Amazon Web Services announced last Thursday that it would continue to sell facial recognition software, the AWS Rekognition system.

In an all-hands meeting on Thursday, AWS CEO, Andrew Jassy, explained their reasons for continuing to sell Rekognition to law enforcement, saying, "Rekognition is actively been used to help stop human trafficking, to reunite missing kids with parents for educational applications, for security and multi-factor authentication to prevent theft."

Jassy went on to say, "With any kind of technology, you have to make sure that it’s being used responsibly... If we find the people are violating folks' constitutional rights, they won’t be able to use the services."

The Rekognition system has been used to access body cameras and surveillance systems in Orlando and Washington County. These law enforcement officers used the software for nondisclosure agreements so that they could avoid public disclosure

Last summer, the ACLU (American Civil Liberties Union) reported that the facial recognition software disproportionately identified 28 members from the Congressional Black Caucus as matches to its database of mugshots.

In addition to reported bias within Amazon's facial recognition technology, police officers in Flordia and Oregon — some of the first to try out this technology — expressed concern over the lack of training on how to use the software and frustration over errors within the system.

Technology and Civil Liberties Attorney at the ACLU Foundation of Northern California, Jacob Snow, addressed the ACLU's findings:

“Our test reinforces that face surveillance is not safe for government use. Face surveillance will be used to power discriminatory surveillance and policing that targets communities of color, immigrants, and activists. Once unleashed, that damage can’t be undone.”

Amazon employees have continued to express outrage over the decision by Jassy and AWS to continue selling the software to law enforcement, claiming that they "won't build it." 

Dr. Matt Wood, GM of Deep Learning and AI at AWS, even expressed concern in a blog post that the "default confidence threshold for facial recognition APIs in Rekognition is 80 percent, which is good for a broad set of general use cases (such as identifying celebrities on social media or family members who look alike in photos apps), but it’s not the right setting for public safety use cases."

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Topics:
ai ,news ,amazon ,facial recognition ,aws ,controversy ,police ,law enforcement

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