Facial recognition technology has come a long way in recent years, but Amazon might still need to up their game.
Amazon’s Facial Scanning Software
Today many smartphone users rely on the face unlock features to keep their devices secure. Now Amazon has decided to join that bandwagon by creating their own software. Amazon’s facial scanning software, called Rekognition, won’t unlock your phone. Instead, it is currently being used by some law enforcement agencies to identify criminals based on their mugshots. Since its launch in 2016, critics have decried the potential racial biases of the “objective” invasive software. If this is used by the police it could marginalize groups. But it is still something Amazon created.
At least It’s Good At Failing
Last year, the ACLU ran the Rekognition software on photos of members of Congress and found that the software flagged 28 of them as being known criminals. These tests showed serious flaws in Amazon’s software and highlighted a racial bias in the program, disproportionately tagging people of color. Now, a year later, the ACLU ran its test again and it looks like almost nothing has changed. Literally nothing.
In the latest test, the Rekognition software was used on photos of 120 lawmakers from California, and it once again produced dozens of false matches to known criminals. Specifically, 26 individuals were flagged as being matches to mugshots in a criminal database. That is roughly one out of every five of the officials that were run through the system.
Amazon Does Not Think It Failed
People called out the software for being lacking for use by Police officers. According to Amazon, ACLU is “misusing” the software, which can be customized so that it only returns results when it is 99 percent confident in a match. “Facial recognition technology can be used for a long list of beneficial purposes, from assisting in the identification of criminals to helping find missing children to inhibiting human trafficking”. So it seems like Amazon is still sticking to their facial recognition tool, even if they say otherwise. If that is the case hopefully they can improve their software and make it worthy of using.