Facial recognition technology is used every day by many to access their cellphones, but many countries have put this technology “on hold,” as it raises complicated ethical dilemmas. Facial recognition systems use algorithms – sequences of instructions grouped to solve problems or make computations – to identify the faces of individuals in photographs. (https://www.ncsl.org/research/telecommunications-and-information-technology/facial-recognition-gaining-measured-acceptance-magazine2020.aspx). In a recent news article published by U.S. News, Facebook said that it will shut down its face-recognition system and delete the faceprints of more than 1 billion people.
Jerome Pesenti, vice president of artificial intelligence of Facebook’s new parent company, Meta said that the company was trying to weigh the positive use cases for the technology “against growing societal concerns, especially as regulators have yet to provide clear rules.”
In 2019, Facebook ended its practice of using face recognition software to identify users’ friends in uploaded photos and automatically suggesting they “tag” them. Facebook was sued in Illinois over the tag suggestion feature. Facebook agreed to pay $650 million to resolve this lawsuit.
Cities, such as Boston, Minneapolis and San Francisco moved to ban the use of facial recognition software by police and other municipal departments. They listed concerns about police using the technology.
In 2015, scientists at Stanford University in California published a set of 12,000 images from a webcam in a San Francisco café that had been live streamed online. A year later, researchers at Duke University in North Carolina, released more than 2 million video frames of footage of students walking on the university campus.
While there are many ethical uses for facial recognition technology, such as track criminals, find lost children, etc. there is also the other side of the coin. Technology that can identify people without their consent or knowledge is fundamentally dangerous.
Facial recognition technology is being perfected every day by scientists who strive to answer the ethics questions surrounding this type of technology.