Microsoft is scaling down its facial recognition capabilities to live up to its promise of developing “responsible AI.” Over the last few years, we’ve seen how facial recognition may be used by authorities to quell protests and by hackers to access personal data.
If existing users now wish to use facial recognition operations in Azure Face, they need to apply for approval within a year. After June 30, 2023, users would lose access to Microsoft’s facial recognition capabilities if their applications are declined.
Microsoft is also dropping its facial analysis capabilities that could assess a person’s emotional state, along with other attributes like gender, age, facial hair, smile, and makeup – features that would no longer be available to users. The company stated how these capabilities raise important questions about privacy.
Why Microsoft is dropping these features
Let’s not discount how easily these features could be used to perpetrate stereotypical and discriminatory attitudes. The most eerie part of Microsoft’s facial recognition capabilities was the analysis tool Azure Face that used AI to identify a person’s emotions. Starting now, users will have to divulge information about how they intent to use the software.
Also read: Meta’s Facebook Sued For Misuse Of User Facial Recognition Data In Texas
New users lost access starting June 21 while existing customers have one year to use these services. Public access to these services may be lost soon, but Microsoft intends to use it in one of its products – the Seeing AI that uses machine vision to help people with visual impairments. Microsoft’s Sarah Bird, in a blog post, said that emotion recognition tools “can be valuable when used for a set of controlled accessibility scenarios.”
Also read: Can Facial Recognition Tech Be Fooled Using Makeup? Here’s What A Test Revealed
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Bird, S. (2022). Responsible AI investments and safeguards for facial recognition. Microsoft Azure.
Foley, M. J. (2022, June 21). Microsoft to curtail some of its facial recognition capabilities in the name of “Responsible AI.” ZDNet.
Vincent, J. (2022, June 21). Microsoft to retire controversial facial recognition tool that claims to identify emotion. The Verge.