Microsoft has been one of the most proactive tech companies in calling for unified regulation of facial recognition technology. At the same time, the company continues to move full steam ahead with its own facial recognition services. It is a strange contrast, and one hopes Microsoft is taking an ethical approach to its technology.
Well, that does seem to be the case as the company says it will withdraw facial recognition software that aims to judge the emotions of a person. Back last year, Kate Crawford, senior principal researcher for Microsoft, said the company's facial recognition tech was not good enough to read emotions.
While that may be the case today, technology is moving towards this capability. Microsoft says any current or future software that can detect emotions in a person's face will no longer be available. Furthermore, the company says it will restrict its facial recognition tech.
Crawford's claims last year were surprising. Microsoft actively develops and markets artificial intelligence products that claim to detect emotion. Face API on Azure if the company's facial recognition technology. Among its various abilities, Microsoft says, is it is capable of detecting emotion in images.
Under its new commitment, it seems Microsoft will either withdraw Face API or change it to remove emotion-detecting capabilities. The company says it is giving customers one year before it removes the ability to infer emotions, age, gender, and other aspects of a person in Azure Face.
This is an official announcement coming from Sarah Bird, principal group product manager for Azure AI.
“Building upon what we learned from Custom Neural Voice, we will apply similar controls to our facial recognition services. After a transition period for existing customers, we are limiting access to these services to managed customers and partners, narrowing the use cases to pre-defined acceptable ones, and leveraging technical controls engineered into the services.”
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