Microsoft president Brad Smith, in a blog post, called on world governments to enact laws around the use of facial recognition next year. Mr. Smith’s comments show how Microsoft is drawing attention to the potential dangers of relying on AI at this early stage of its development, which include reinforcing discrimination and human rights abuses. His comments are a contrast to other tech executives who believe governments are already too involved in setting policies for the use of technology.
Microsoft may also have a business motivation here. Rival Amazon Web Services has been actively pitching facial recognition to law enforcement agencies and is already gaining early traction in this market. And unlike Microsoft and Google, Amazon hasn’t pledged to change its approach in response to employee concerns over selling AI software to the government.
Meanwhile, employees from Google and Microsoft are taking matters into their own hands, forming a new research group to press for government regulation of facial recognition and other forms of AI, according to this report from Bloomberg. Notably, the employees are organizing outside of the scope of their roles at the tech companies.