For years, activists and academics have been raising concerns that facial analysis software that claims to be able to identify a person’s age, gender and emotional state can be biased, unreliable or invasive — and should not be sold.
Acknowledging some of those criticisms, Microsoft said Tuesday that it planned to remove those features from its artificial intelligence service for detecting, analyzing and recognizing faces.
After a two-year review, a team at Microsoft has developed a “Responsible AI Standard,” a 27-page document that sets out requirements for AI systems to ensure they are not going to have a harmful impact on society.
“valid solutions for the problems they are designed to solve” and “a similar quality of service for identified demographic groups, including marginalized groups.”
Before they are released, technologies that would be used to make important decisions about a person’s access to employment
There were heightened concerns at Microsoft around the emotion recognition tool, which labeled someone’s expression as anger, contempt, disgust, fear, happiness, neutral, sadness or surprise.
“There’s a huge amount of cultural and geographic and individual variation in the way in which we express ourselves,”
The age and gender analysis tools being eliminated — along with other tools to detect facial attributes such as hair and smile
In particular, she added, the system’s so-called gender classifier was binary, “and that’s not consistent with our values.”
Uber, for example, uses the software in its app to verify that a driver’s face matches the ID on file for that driver’s account.
Software developers who want to use Microsoft’s facial recognition tool will need to apply for access and explain how they plan to deploy it.