IBM, the juggernaut in the computing world, has announced they are taking a stand on racial injustice and, as a result, are dropping out of the market for general purpose facial recognition software and analytics.
In a letter addressed to Congress, IBM CEO, Arvind Krishna, proposed some policy changes related to police reform and racial justice. The proposed changes include more broadly applying federal court purview to cases of police misconduct, a federal registry of police misconduct filings, and stronger rights for individuals to seek damages when law enforcement officers violate their constitutional rights.
The letter mentions that these policies are a part of the proposed Justice In Policing Act of 2020, an act that was introduced by the five named Senators and Representatives that the letter is addressed to. IBM says they support the proposal and is going to push for a “broad bipartisan legislation that can be enacted into law.”
This means the company is abandoning their part in developing and creating facial recognition software, saying:
“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 and Principles of Trust and Transparency.”
We will have to wait and see the financial impact of this decision, as facial recognition is a huge part of artificial intelligence, security, and much more in the technology industry. Given that IBM has always been a leader in this field, the decision to step away from facial recognition was not taken lightly.
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