A bloc of five Amazon shareholders groups have submitted a resolution to “prohibit sales of facial recognition technology to government agencies unless the Board concludes, after an evaluation using independence evidence, that the technology does not cause or contribute to actual or potential violations of civil and human rights.” The bloc reportedly plans to attempt and force a vote on the motion at the next annual meeting in the spring. Reports have indicated a facial recognition error rate of 5%, a rate that increases when identifying people from minority groups, causing civil rights organizations to issue concerns about implementing the technology, at least in its current form. An A.I. general manager at Amazon Web Services has argued in response that “we believe it is the wrong approach to impose a ban on promising new technologies because they might be used by bad actors for nefarious purposes in the future…through responsible use, the benefits have far outweighed the risks.” The representative cited examples of successful facial recognition use in human trafficking, anti-child exploitation efforts, missing persons, and more. Several federal agencies are already in use by several federal agencies, with ongoing pilots at many international airpots, border crossings, the FBI, and the White House. Current polls indicate that Americans are largely positive about the integration of facial recognition technology, especially in areas of public safety.
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