Every year, in the week after New Year’s Day, the Consumer Electronics Show (CES) sets up in almost every corner of the massive Las Vegas Convention center. The trade show normally (as in not during a pandemic) hosts tens of thousands of people who are there to see the latest tech gadgets companies plan to release in the near future.1
From a business magazine called Fast Company comes a good opinion piece discussing “Why schools need to abandon facial recognition, not double down on it”.
It’s written by two fellows from the NAACP Legal Defense Fund who link to a growing body of research indicating that these systems use software that is heavily biased and frequently inaccurate. Which is pretty typical in the AI business these days.
At the start of the pandemic, way back in March 2020 when there was much confusion around how the virus was transmitted, many people decided public surfaces must be at least partially to blame.
Which led stores, hotels, airports, and other public spaces to jump into a very conspicuous effort to disinfect every surface in sight. Assigning workers to continually wipe down everything someone might touch, resulting in a distinct disinfectant odor hanging in the air everywhere you went.
Tomorrow is the first of the presidential debates for this election cycle. If tradition holds, one of the major topics that will be addressed over all these events is the concept of “national security”. And most, if not all, the questions related to that phrase will center around the military, Russia, terrorism, and other topics that involve ships, bombs, and the other stuff of war.
However, that thinking is far too narrow for the world in which we currently live. We need to expand the definition of “national security”.
Lots of discussion in my feeds last week about school surveillance. Most of it was concerning a New York Times article about a small district near Niagara Falls that recently switched on a facial recognition system in it’s eight schools.
While they are one of the first K12 districts in the US to adopt this technology, the writer notes that similar systems are already being used in many public spaces like airports and sports arenas. In addition, more than 600 “law enforcement agencies” have adopted facial recognition software from a company called Clearview AI in just the past year.
All in the name of “security” and public safety, of course.