Two months after calling laws to regulate facial recognition software, Microsoft Corp lobbies on behalf of a first-of-its-kind bill in his home state of Washington. The question is whether cross-town rival Amazon.com Inc. it will support.
Amazon has asked the sponsor of the bill, State Secretary Reuven Carlyle, to clarify and make changes to areas as a requirement that creators of AI software who claim to identify faces open up their product to third parties who want to test it, Carlyle said. Carlyle evaluated requests for reformulation and changes to the invoice by various parties, including Amazon, and submitted a revised version of its proposal on Thursday.
"It is reasonable to say that Amazon has a deep skepticism and concern about meaningful limitations on face recognition and is clearly a core technology for their long-term strategy," said Carlyle, a Democrat who represents parts of Seattle, including Amazon's headquarters. The company wants to retain its innovative capacity, he said. But still, "they have made it clear that their goal is to find a place where they can support the legislation." Artificial intelligence software is becoming increasingly important for some of the largest technology companies in the US and China. Some companies and advocates are concerned about the technology, especially the products that people follow and categorize on the basis of their facial features, are biased and may damage privacy. Especially Amazon has criticized its software with some researchers. Now governments are taking the first steps towards regulation.
Opening the third-party testing software is one of the most important parts of the law, said Microsoft president-general Brad Smith in an interview. Any company that makes this kind of software must support it, he said.
The opposite test is "as an automotive company that objects to airbag testing," Smith said. "Why should a company object to the fact that the public knows whether its services are working properly?" The public has the right to evaluate these services and responsible companies must recognize the importance of this type of testing by third parties. "
Amazon refused to comment on whether it will support the legislation because it is still being amended. The company published a blog Thursday with its ideas on how face recognition software should be managed. For example, the company said that when law enforcement agencies use the software, people in those agencies must review the results to ensure that civil liberties are not violated. Amazon also said that it supports standardized testing of facial recognition software.
"It is crucial that every legislation protects civil rights while ensuring continuous innovation and practical application of technology," wrote Michael Punke, vice president of Global Public Policy at Amazon Web Services.
The bill would also require several other steps that Microsoft Smith proposed in a December blog, including plain English, explaining what the programs do, noticeable notification to customers when they are analyzed by the software, and the requirement for meaningful human judgment. in a "final" decision based on such profiling when such final decisions have legal effects with respect to consumers or similar significant effects on consumers. "It would also prohibit continuous monitoring using the software without a court order, except in cases of emergency where there is danger to human life or serious injury.
Although the legislation, part of a larger privacy law, is being considered in the state of Washington, this would not only affect companies that are located there, such as Amazon and Microsoft, but also companies that do business in the state and process data of 100,000 or more consumers or half of their income from the sale of personal data. Legislation can also serve as a model for others, even if it is not about it, Smith said. Amazon and Microsoft have their facial recognition AI program's audited by third parties, including MIT Media Lab researcher Joy Buolamwini and the American Civil Liberties Union.
Presented with a finding that the facial recognition software performed worse on images of dark faces, particularly women, Satya Nadella, CEO of Microsoft, ordered his researchers and technicians to repair the product. Amazon has protested against the reports by stating that researchers have not tested the software properly or used settings that are not precise enough to be recommended by the company for critical applications such as law enforcement.
"If it succeeds, it is an important and much needed step to be a legal basis for facial recognition technology and to create a model that can be considered by other states and countries," Smith said about the law in Washington.
Copyright 2019 Bloomberg.
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