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Amazon's controversial 'Rekognition' facial recognition tech identifies 28 lawmakers as...

By Polycount ยท 14 replies
Jul 26, 2018
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  1. In May, Amazon came under fire for working with law enforcement departments across the US to deploy facial recognition technology, appropriately named "Rekognition." Information on the tech was publicly viewable through Amazon's Web Services website, but it flew under the public's radar for quite some time.

    As we mentioned at the time, Rekognition possesses the ability to track up to 100 individuals in any given image, pulling data from a library containing "tens of millions" of faces. Shortly after the news broke, one of Amazon's Rekognition partners -- Orlando's Police Department -- dropped out of the partnership, acknowledging the dangers of such tech.

    Now, it seems those dangers have become evident, in a slightly embarrassing manner. The ACLU recently tested Amazon's Rekognition tech, only to find that it matched 28 US lawmakers with individuals arrested for a crime. While their exact testing methodology isn't known, the organization claims it performed its experiments with "80 percent" accuracy.

    Worse yet, these tests were incredibly cheap to run. According to the ACLU, the entire procedure only cost about $12.33.

    The ACLU also claims people of color were disproportionately matched with arrested men and women, a trend the civil rights group believes is evidence of racial bias.

    Amazon has since taken issue with the ACLU's report, though. "While 80 percent confidence is an acceptable threshold for photos of hot dogs, chairs, animals and other social media use cases, it wouldn't be appropriate for identifying individuals with a reasonable level of certainty," the company said in a statement to The Verge.

    Regardless of whether or not the ACLU's testing procedures were up to par, the bottom line here is that the technology still appears to be in its early stages. As such, deploying it for law enforcement purposes could be a dangerous path for Amazon to pursue - only time will tell whether or not the company will stand firm in the face of public pressure.

    Permalink to story.

  2. TomSEA

    TomSEA TechSpot Chancellor Posts: 3,144   +1,651

    "...facial recognition tech identifies 28 lawmakers as criminals..."

    Well yeah - that sounds about right. ;)
  3. dirtyferret

    dirtyferret Banned Posts: 518   +538

    So it works!
    Satish Mallya, Reehahs, bmw95 and 4 others like this.
  4. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,197   +2,476

    Maybe the AI behind this is on to something!
  5. p51d007

    p51d007 TS Evangelist Posts: 2,059   +1,319

    What a load of crap! Sorry if this hurts your feelings, or you need to retreat to a safe space, but here it is.
    Blacks by percentage, commit more crimes, than any other ethnic group in the USA.

    "The ACLU also claims people of color were disproportionately matched with arrested men and women, a trend the civil rights group believes is evidence of racial bias."
    VBKing and psycros like this.
  6. dms96960

    dms96960 TS Guru Posts: 323   +78

    "Skeptical of the tech, the ACLU has conducted a test that resulted in Rekognition falsely identifying 28 lawmakers as lawbreakers."

    The ACLU is right to be skeptical of the tech. There is no way that only 28 members of Congress are lawbreakers.
    VBKing, psycros and wiyosaya like this.

    IAMTHESTIG TS Evangelist Posts: 1,767   +836

    28? That's it? There is a lot more than that! So many "lawmakers" are violating their oath of office to protect the US Constitution simply by voting in favor of some "laws". Nearly half the laws we have are unnecessarily redundant and half of those are illegal laws that violate a law or "the law" (being the Constitution) before it.
    Reehahs and psycros like this.
  8. wiyosaya

    wiyosaya TS Evangelist Posts: 4,197   +2,476

    As I see it, the goal of this software is to match the faces of people in a crowd to a "wanted" photo of any individual that is wanted for a crime - such as, in the US, the photos on wanted posters at a post office, or the wanted posters that the FBI publishes for its ten most wanted list.

    The goal of the software is not to identify individuals that might commit a crime based on statistical data. This and the above are two drastically different different aims.

    Despite what we think of politicians, the photos of the politicians were not in the database of wanted individuals, and the fact it identified those politicians as criminals indicates major problems with this software. Simply put, it is a total failure of software engineering. To use the old adage, I bet this software would not be able to tell the difference between someone's a$$ and a hole in the ground.

    No software, let alone any human, can identify a propensity for criminal behavior based on a photo, skin color, ethnic heritage, etc. To harass innocent people because of these factors is profiling and completely wrong.
    Last edited: Jul 26, 2018
  9. Uncle Al

    Uncle Al TS Evangelist Posts: 5,686   +4,029

    They must have tested it in D.C. ..... noooo, if they did it there we'd see a LOT more criminals ......
  10. psycros

    psycros TS Evangelist Posts: 2,823   +2,669

    Amazon is the most frightening company on the planet short of Monsanto. They have exceeded even Google in their obsessive campaign to make privacy a forgotten concept. Well, I got news for Amazon - privacy is a fundamental human right. And they better figure that out real quick. There's clearly no law against wearing masks in most western countries - just look at any left-wing gathering where cops stand placidly by trying to make sure groups of masked thugs don't burn down the whole city. Maybe demonstrators and criminals should start wearing incredibly realistic masks that look like top executives at Amazon, Google and Microsoft. Perhaps that would send a message.
  11. Danny101

    Danny101 TS Guru Posts: 846   +329

    Although it's bogus, I still can't shake the notion that politicians are crooks.
  12. LemmingOverlrd

    LemmingOverlrd TS Addict Posts: 86   +40

    IKR?! It's working as designed!
  13. LemmingOverlrd

    LemmingOverlrd TS Addict Posts: 86   +40

    They only ID'd 28 of them because the others got a tip-off from an insider and made other travel arrangements... duh
  14. cuerdc

    cuerdc TS Booster Posts: 180   +41

    Ai doesn't have one rule for one and one rule for another yet...
  15. Abraka

    Abraka TS Addict Posts: 176   +54

    If it identified judges and politicians then it passed the test.

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