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Microsoft and Google Disagree On Proposed Ban Of Facial Recognition

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Microsoft disagrees with the EU’s plan to ban facial recognition for up to five years. The corporation says the only way to improve the technology, is to use it.


The European Commission is considering a five-year ban on facial recognition in public spaces to assess risks, develop legislation and improve the technology. This development comes as other public authorities, notably San Francisco introduce limitations to the controversial and potentially invasive technology.


Microsoft and Google Disagree Proposed Ban Of Facial Recognition
Facial recognition could aid NGO’s in missing children cases.


Sundar Pichai, CEO of Google and Alphabet, seems to agree with the ban, saying that a moratorium may be necessary.


“I think it is important that governments and regulations tackle it sooner rather than later and give a framework for it,” Pichai said at a conference in Brussels organised by think-tank Bruegel. He added, “It can be immediate but maybe there’s a waiting period before we really think about how it’s being used.”


Pichai also says that it is “up to governments to chart the course”, for the use of such technology. He thus called for the regulation of artificial intelligence. Further urging regulators to take a “proportionate approach” whilst drafting the regulations.

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“Sensible regulation must also take a proportionate approach, balancing potential harms with social opportunities. This is especially true in areas that are high risk and high value,” Alphabet’s boss stated.

The only way to use facial technology is to “use” it

Microsoft’s president and chief legal counsel Brad Smith says it is better to address specific problems with the technology and ban those cases.


“The second thing I would say is, you don’t ban it if you actually believe there is a reasonable alternative that will enable us to, say, address this problem with a scalpel instead of a meat cleaver,” he explained.


He also stated that the only way to improve technology better is to use it. Further citing the benefits of facial recognition technology instances such as NGOs using it to find missing children.


“I’m really reluctant to say let’s stop people from using technology in a way that will reunite families when it can help them do it,” Smith said.


Recall that earlier in January 2020, the U.S. government published regulatory guidelines on AI. The aim is to limit authorities’ overreach and urges Europe to avoid an aggressive approach towards it.


Facial recognition is in use in the United Kingdom by the police and across residential estates via CCTV. The technology has recorded failure rates of up to 98%.


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