RESEARCH TRIANGLE PARK – IBM quits the facial recognition business and is calling on Congress to pursue police reform.
After protests broke out following the death of George Floyd, many calls have been made for changes in law enforcement. But IBM CEO Arvind Krishna took that steps further, also calling for “responsible use of technology” as well as efforts to expand skills and educational opportunities.
He spelled out IBM’s stand in a letter sent to Congress and published Monday evening.
IBM called for a “pursuit of justice and racial equity.”
As part of that effort, Krishna announced the dropping of facial recognition.
“IBM no longer offers general purpose IBM facial recognition or analysis software,” Krishna wrote.
“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 also acknowledged concerns about the use of artificial intelligence.
“Artificial Intelligence is a powerful tool that can help law enforcement keep citizens safe. But vendors and users of Al systems have a shared responsibility to ensure that Al is tested for bias, particularity when used in law enforcement, and that such bias testing is audited and reported,” he explained.
Krishna is not alone in demanding changes. On Friday, Tim Humphrey, IBM’s top NC exec, joined African American tech leaders’ call for action to deal with racial issues.
CNBC notes that facial recognition does not generate “significant revenue” for IBM.
Concerns have been raised about the use of facial technology developed by other companies such as Amazon.
Khrisna also called for specific action by Congress.
“Congress should bring more police misconduct cases under federal court purview and should make modifications to the qualified immunity doctrine that prevents individuals from seeking damages when police violate their constitutional rights,” he said.
“Congress should also establish a federal registry of police misconduct and adopt measures to encourage or compel states and localities to review and update use-of-force policies.”
IBM, which acquired Raleigh-based Red Hat last year, operates one of its largest corporation campuses in RTP and employs thousands of people across North Carolina.