17.3 Facial Recognition

20210405 Recognising faces in a photo or a video stream is a common task for computer vision. The identification of the people within the photos/video is also regularly utilised.

This technology can be and is variously used for the benefit of society, to improve processing of long queues at immigration at airports, for securing data centres, for search and rescue. However, it can also be used for the oppression of our freedoms. It is commonly reported that it has been used by governments to monitor, oppress, and assimilate, whole populations of religious and ethnic groups. Indeed, collaborative research has been terminated by more open governments where that research was in collaboration with more oppressive governments.

Deep neural network facial recognition technology is also particularly sensitive to the training data, meaning that it does not generalise well. The pre-built models have variously been found to be poor identifying emotion or age or agenda for specific racial populations that might be under-represented in the training data. This can result in unexpected and widespread automated racial discrimination.


We need to be very careful in the deployment of this and other AI technology.

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