Microsoft’s facial recognition tools just made few notable technological strides, although the timing likely couldn’t be unsatisfactory.
The firm said in a blog post on Tuesday that its Face API, section of Azure Cognitive Services, can at present recognize men and women with darker skin far more successfully than earlier recurrences of the technology. The reformation specially enhance the system’s identifying capacity for women with darker skin tones, decreasing error rates for darker-skinned men and women by as much as 20 times and decreasing error rates for all women by nine times.
Microsoft said that it was capable to “significantly reduce accuracy differences across the demographics” by enlarging facial identification training data sets, beginning recent information collection around the variables of skin tone, gender and age and enhanc its gender categorization system by “focusing specifically on getting better results for all skin tones.”
Microsoft also added, “The higher error rates on females with darker skin highlights an industrywide challenge: Artificial intelligence technologies are only as good as the data used to train them. If a facial recognition system is to perform well across all people, the training dataset needs to represent a diversity of skin tones as well factors such as hairstyle, jewelry and eyewear.”
Microsoft notes that it incorporated bias training, spearheaded by Microsoft Senior Researcher Hanna Wallach, who specializes in AI fairness, accountability and transparency. Another senior researcher associated with the attempt, aims on bias in training data that can outcome in biased systems, like the “under representation of darker skinned women that may lead to AI systems with unacceptable error rates on gender classification tasks.”
While the elimination of bias in tech systems is a noble cause, the potential surveillance and policing applications of facial identification specially gives several detractor pause. Microsoft is presently facing a backlash for its relationship with U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), although the firm was against the border segregation policy being performed by the agency.
In January, Microsoft reported its purpose to move ahead in contracting with ICE after acquiring an Authority to Operate (ATO) from the agency. The Face API within Azure Cognitive Services is section of a suite of tools provided in Azure Government contracts.
Microsoft wrote in January, “This ATO is a critical next step in enabling ICE to deliver such services as cloud-based identity and access, serving both employees and citizens from applications hosted in the cloud.”
Adding, “This can help employees make more informed decisions faster, with Azure Government enabling them to process data on edge devices or utilize deep learning capabilities to accelerate facial recognition and identification.”
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