Monday, October 02, 2023

Big Tech Buried Face Recognition

Everyone is excited about new AI technologies being released, but here is one that the big tech companies have buried:
As early as 2011, a Google engineer revealed he had been working on a tool to Google someone’s face and bring up other online photos of them. Months later, Google’s chairman, Eric Schmidt, said in an onstage interview that Google “built that technology, and we withheld it.”

“As far as I know, it’s the only technology that Google built and, after looking at it, we decided to stop,” Mr. Schmidt said.

Advertently or not, the tech giants also helped hold the technology back from general circulation by snapping up the most advanced start-ups that offered it. In 2010, Apple bought a promising Swedish facial recognition company called Polar Rose. In 2011, Google acquired a U.S. face recognition company popular with federal agencies called PittPatt. And in 2012, Facebook purchased the Israeli company In each case, the new owners shut down the acquired companies’ services to outsiders. The Silicon Valley heavyweights were the de facto gatekeepers for how and whether the tech would be used.

Facebook, Google and Apple deployed facial recognition technology in what they considered to be relatively benign ways: as a security tool to unlock a smartphone, a more efficient way to tag known friends in photos and an organizational tool to categorize smartphone photos by the faces of the people in them.

There are some privacy concerns with face recognition, but there are also useful applications, and I don't think Google should have the power to kill them.

1 comment:

CFT said...

Oh come now Roger,
Just think, you could use that precious face recognition software on a crowd of rioting individuals of an undisclosed background and have each and every one of their names and addresses, ready for the upcoming arrest after their attempt at crowd anonymity has been stripped away.

Google knows how this technology would be used, and made a shrewd calculated decision that favored their own political leanings. By far and away, most people who riot aren't exactly right-wing.