TECHNOLOGY

IBM quits facial recognition and urges debate on its use by law enforcement

Jun 9, 2020, 7:07 AM
facial recognition...
IBM is canceling its facial recognition programs and calling for an urgent public debate on whether the technology should be used in law enforcement. Credit: Shutterstock via CNN

    (CNN) — IBM is canceling its facial recognition programs and calling for an urgent public debate on whether the technology should be used in law enforcement.

In a letter to Congress on Monday, IBM CEO Arvind Krishna said the company wants to work with lawmakers to advance justice and racial equity through police reform, educational opportunities and the responsible use of technology.

“We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies,” he said, noting that the company no longer offers general purpose facial recognition or analysis software.

“IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values,” he added. Krishna is of Indian origin and IBM’s first CEO of color. His predecessor, Ginni Rometty, was the company’s first female CEO.

An IBM spokesperson told CNN Business on Tuesday that the company will now limit its visual technology to “visual object detection,” which could, for example, help manage manufacturing plants or assist farmers with crop care.

Krishna’s letter follows huge anti-racism protests in America and around the world in response to the death of George Floyd, an unarmed black man who was killed while in police custody. Several American corporations have expressed solidarity with the protesters and the Black Lives Matter movement. But companies have been called on to take more concrete steps to combat racial injustice, such as hiring and promoting more black executives.

IBM is a market leader in artificial intelligence. IBM Watson, its AI platform for businesses, is used by companies such as General Motors, KPMG and ESPN Fantasy Football. And its fast talking AI machine, Project Debater, featured in a Cambridge University event last year on the dangers of artificial intelligence.

The problem of algorithmic bias in data science has become more pronounced, and there’s evidence that AI-powered algorithms display bias against women and black people. Federal researchers found widespread evidence of racial bias in nearly 200 facial recognition algorithms in an extensive US government study last year, highlighting the technology’s potential for misuse.

“Artificial Intelligence is a powerful tool that can help law enforcement keep citizens safe. But vendors and users of Al systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularly when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported,” Krishna said.

IBM has previously cautioned against blanket bans on facial recognition technology, advocating instead for “precision regulation” that would ensure it protects human rights.

National policy should encourage the use of technology that brings greater transparency and accountability to policing, such as body cameras, Krishna added.

He welcomed the Justice in Policing Act, a bill put forward by Democrats Monday aimed at cracking down on police brutality. The proposed legislation includes the creation of a National Police Misconduct Registry, a measure supported by Krishna, who said that Congress should adopt policies that encourage or compel states to review and update their use-of-force policies.

Addressing the need to expand educational and economic opportunities for communities of color, Krishna urged Congress to consider increasing the reach of Pell Grants and Pathways in Technology (P-TECH).

The P-TECH program, developed by IBM in 2011, enables students to earn both a high school diploma and associate’s degree in Science, Technology, Engineering and Math (STEM) without incurring student debt. It has a focus on students of color in areas of the United States that are poorly served by education.

Eligibility for Pell Grants should be expanded, including for incarcerated individuals, beyond traditional four-year degree programs, Krishna said.

“Pell Grants are an important pathway for students of color to go to college. But there are virtually no Federal funds available for non-college skills training or job certification programs for in-demand New Collar jobs,” he explained.

“New Collar” jobs refer to those in fields such as cybersecurity and cloud computing. IBM sees an “urgent demand” for these skills, Krishna said.

The-CNN-Wire
™ & © 2020 Cable News Network, Inc., a WarnerMedia Company. All rights reserved.

Today’s Top Stories

Technology

space radio...
Elizabeth Weiler

USU making history with a radio entering the lunar orbit

LOGAN, Utah — Utah State University has successfully sent a radio, created by Utah State University’s Space Dynamics Laboratory into the orbit of earth’s moon.  The deep space radio is named Iris, after the Greek mythological goddess, daughter of Thaumas and Electra and messenger of the gods. The radio made its way into the orbit via a CubeSat […]
2 days ago
In this image provided by NASA, the Earth and its moon are seen from NASA's Orion spacecraft on Mon...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

NASA’s Orion reaches record-breaking distance from Earth

NASA confirmed that Orion had reached the midpoint of its uncrewed mission around the moon — about 270,000 miles (434,523 kilometers) from Earth.
3 days ago
Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform....
Clare Duffy and Paul LeBlanc, CNN

Elon Musk restores Donald Trump’s Twitter account

Former US President Donald Trump's Twitter account has been reinstated on the platform.
13 days ago
With employees with the company, the future of Twitter is in uncertain. Photo credit: Justin Sulliv...
Oliver Darcy, CNN Business

Inside Twitter as ‘mass exodus’ of staffers throws platform’s future into uncertainty

With employees leaving the company, the future of Twitter is uncertain.
14 days ago
NASA's Space Launch System (SLS) rocket with the Orion spacecraft aboard is seen on Nov. 12 at NASA...
Jackie Wattles, CNN

Historic moon mission troubleshoots fuel leak issue hours before launch

The Artemis I mission to the moon could finally take place this week.
17 days ago
FILE - A Tesla owner charges his vehicle at a charging station in Topeka, Kan., Monday, April 5, 20...
Peter Valdes-Dapena, CNN Business

Tesla officially makes its charging standard available to other companies

Tesla has invited other automakers to build cars with charging ports that can work with Tesla's charging format and for other charging companies to add Tesla-style plugs to their chargers.
20 days ago

Sponsored Articles

Spicy Homemade Loaded Taters Tots...
Macey's

5 game day snacks for the whole family (with recipes!)

Try these game day snacks to make watching football at home with your family feel like a special occasion. 
Happy joyful smiling casual satisfied woman learning and communicates in sign language online using...
Sorenson

The best tools for Deaf and hard-of-hearing workplace success

Here are some of the best resources to make your workplace work better for Deaf and hard-of-hearing employees.
Team supporters celebrating at a tailgate party...
Macey's

8 Delicious Tailgate Foods That Require Zero Prep Work

In a hurry? These 8 tailgate foods take zero prep work, so you can fuel up and get back to what matters most: getting hyped for your favorite
christmas decorations candles in glass jars with fir on a old wooden table...
Western Nut Company

12 Mason Jar Gift Ideas for the 12 Days of Christmas [with recipes!]

There are so many clever mason jar gift ideas to give something thoughtful to your neighbors or friends. Read our 12 ideas to make your own!
wide shot of Bear Lake with a person on a stand up paddle board...

Pack your bags! Extended stays at Bear Lake await you

Work from here! Read our tips to prepare for your extended stay, whether at Bear Lake or somewhere else nearby.
young boy with hearing aid...
Sorenson

Accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing

These different types of accommodations for students who are deaf and hard of hearing can help them succeed in school.
IBM quits facial recognition and urges debate on its use by law enforcement