Tuesday, July 5, 2022

Shady Amazon Software Identifies Michelle Obama and Serena Williams as MEN | Video

Serena Williams and Michelle Obama - Getty
NEW YORK, NY – AUGUST 24: Serena Williams and First Lady Michelle Obama attend the 2013 Arthur Ashe Kids Day at USTA Billie Jean King National Tennis Center on August 24, 2013 in the Queens borough of New York City. (Photo by Uri Schanker/Getty Images)

*Since its creation, Amazon’s gender recognition software (“Rekognition“) has been on the wrong side of the radar for people of color.

Former First Lady Michelle Obama and Serena Williams are experiencing first-hand how off the mark the company’s controversial system is, as it identified the women as men.

Although the error is very hard to swallow, Sandra Rose cited MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini in revealing Amazon’s reaction, noting how the tech giant was dismissive in reiterating that its software is not “facial recognition, it’s gender recognition.”

Still, Amazon’s gender and facial recognition software has more than enough critics who have put the system on blast for displaying gender and racial bias. A look at recent studies led by Buolamwini adds weight to the complaints as they found Amazon facial recognition software flawed with huge racial and gender bias on its part.

The misidentification of Mrs. Obama and Williams is the latest in a continuing string of mishaps that resulted in Amazon suspending police use of the gender and facial recognition software in June 2020, after the killing of George Floyd ignited nationwide protests against police brutality against people of color

Watch below at approximately 3:49 when Anima Anandkumar, former principal scientist at Amazon Web Services, confirms that the Amazon facial recognition software (“Rekognition”) identified the former FLOTUS  and tennis star and MEN.

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As it stands now, Amazon is placing its hopes on Congress to pass a law to ensure ethical use of gender recognition technology. Despite the company’s efforts to tweak its software and it lifting the ban, Fox Business reports that no law ensuring gender recognition tech use has been passed at this time.

On Tuesday, Amazon put the ban back into effect by extending it until further notice. Influenced by the ban, Amazon’s competition has taken notice, with Microsoft Corp stating shortly after Amazon’s announcement last June that it would hold out for U.S. federal regulation before selling its face recognition software to police.

Among those supporting Amazon’s move is Nathan Freed Wessler, a deputy project director at the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Face recognition technology fuels the over-policing of Black and Brown communities, and has already led to the false arrests and wrongful incarcerations of multiple Black men,” Wessler, who called on federal and state governments to ban law enforcement’s use of the software, said in a statement.

Aws - Amazon Rekognition
Aws – Amazon Rekognition

Although the facial and gender recognition software has garnered criticism, Fox Business noted the use of “Rekognition,” Amazon’s face-matching service from its cloud computing division. Those who rely on the service to find human trafficking victims have still had access to facial recognition capabilities, Amazon said.

Critics of Rekognition reference Gender Shades, a project that highlighted the service’s struggle to determine the sex of individuals with darker skin tones.

Needless to say, the criticism has been Amazon disputes the criticism surrounding Rekognition.

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