IBM reflects on facial recognition’s use in law enforcement

In the wake of the George Floyd murder in Minneapolis, many companies have issued statements of support for the black community.

A few days ago, I commented on the importance of taking a stand, both on a personal and corporate ground, against social inequality and injustice of any type, citing as an example the statement put out by Ben & Jerry’s

IBM went one step ahead… They understood that what is needed right now is action and that’s what they did, announcing that they’ll pull out of the facial recognition market and calling for a national dialogue about its use in law enforcement.

Some have shown skepticism with respect to IBM’s move because it reserves the right to sell facial recognition tools for specific purposes that are transparent and consistent with IBM’s values

I am not in this group of skeptics. This is not the first time that IBM has expressed concern for the use of this technology. Last February, for example, it signed an AI Ethics Pledge with the Vatican and Microsoft committing to the development of AI that protect people, particularly the underprivileged; and do not create or act according to bias.

The use of facial recognition technologies for mass surveillance, racial profiling and criminality predictions needs to be regulated, especially when used by law enforcement agencies to prevent violations of human rights, protect human dignity and avoid racial and other type of bias.

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