Microsoft is withdrawing public support for some AI-driven features, including facial recognition, and acknowledges the discrimination and accuracy issues these offerings pose. But the company has had years to fix the problems, but it hasn’t. It’s like a car manufacturer recalling a car instead of repairing it.

Despite concerns that facial recognition technology could be discriminatory, the real problem is that the results are imprecise. (The discrimination argument plays a role because of the assumptions Microsoft developers made when creating these programs.)

Let’s start with what Microsoft did and said. Sarah Bird, principal product manager for Microsoft Azure AI, summed up the rollback last month on the Microsoft blog.

Starting today (June 21), new customers must apply for access to use facial recognition operations in Azure Face API, Computer Vision, and Video Indexer. Existing customers have one year to apply and receive approval for continued access to facial recognition services based on the proposed use cases. By introducing limited access, we’re adding an extra layer of scrutiny to the use and deployment of facial recognition to ensure that the use of these services meets Microsoft’s responsible AI standard and promotes high benefits for end users and society. This includes introducing usage precedents and customer requirements for accessing these services.

“Face detection capabilities, including detection of blur, exposure, glasses, head pose, landmarks, noise, occlusion, and face bounding box, will remain public and do not require an app.”

Look at the second sentence, where Bird highlights this additional hoop that users must jump through “to ensure that use of these services meets Microsoft’s responsible AI standard and promotes high benefit to end users and society.”

Copyright © 2022 IDG Communications, Inc.

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