IBM ends all facial recognition business as CEO calls out bias and inequality


IBM CEO Arvind Krishna announced that the company would no longer sell facial recognition services, calling for a “national dialogue” on whether it should be used at all. He also voiced support for a new bill aiming to reduce police violence & increase accountability.


In a letter reported by CNBC, written in support of the Justice in Policing Act introduced today, Krishna explains the company’s exit from the controversial business of facial identification as a service.


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 believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.


Krishna’s letter also says that “vendors and users of Al systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularly when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported.” This is something of a parting shot to those in the field, Amazon in particular, that have been called out for the poor quality of facial recognition systems but have not ceased to market them.


It’s unclear whether or how the company will continue to perform AI research along these lines.

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