Amazon’s New Facial Technology Misidentifies Dark Skinned Women as Men Thirty Percent of the Time


Freshman Congresswoman Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez is not afraid to shake up the norm in Washington. Her recent 60 Minutes interview proved she wants to bring the fat cats back to earth by slapping a 70 percent on their income. The people who earn more than 10 million a year don’t pay their fair share, and Ocasio-Cortez wants to change the tax code so they do.

Changing the tax code to level America’s social playing field is just one of the New York Congresswoman’s missions in Washington. She also thinks Amazon’s face recognition algorithms that help law enforcement identify criminals needs work. Ocasio-Cortez believes Amazon’s facial recognition algorithms have an element of bias running through its technological DNA. She plans to use her social media savvy to start a debate about Amazon’s cutting edge technology. Alexandria is a huge social media star. She has 2.6 million Twitter followers. That’s more followers than Nancy Pelosi has.

According to Ocasio-Cortez, she wants to examine the facial recognition technology the government uses. She wants to know if that technology has bias safeguards written into the algorithms. She has the ability to ask Amazon and other tech companies to open their secret facial recognition vault and give Americans more information about their technology.

Amazon thinks the rookie Congresswoman got it wrong when she said researchers discovered the Amazon algorithms they tested are different from the algorithms in the programs the FBI uses. According to Ocasio-Cortez, algorithms still use human assumptions and those assumptions have flaws. That’s why 30 percent of dark-skinned women become men when the Amazon facial recognition plays a part in a criminal investigation.

And Ocasio-Cortez has some heavy-hitters behind her to back up her claim. According to the MIT Technology Review, she’s right. The Amazon algorithms can perpetuate and amplify the embedded human bias. The amplified human bias can generate more bias-tainted data to fuel an inaccurate investigation.

Several AI researchers also agree with the Ocasio-Cortez. Other lawmakers think she’s right about the facial recognition programs the Florida and Washington police use. But there are no laws on the books that force companies to eliminate the human bias from these life-changing programs. Amazon says the researchers’ got it wrong. Ocasio-Cortez wants Amazon to explain why she’s wrong. But there’s no word when that will happen. The new lawmaker has other big fish to fry before she tackles Amazon, according to the Washington Post.


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