Thursday, August 09, 2018

Facial Recognition, Or I See You

I remember about fifteen years ago at Fantasia Fair one of the trans people staying at the Bed and Breakfast was what I thought was paranoid about her picture taken saying that she was worried about facial recognition software identifying her; well it turns out she was ahead of her time.

But facial recognition software is now creating problems for trans people.
Some transgender drivers are being kicked off Uber’s app
By Jaden Urbi
August 8, 2018

Uber has revolutionized the taxi industry with its easy-to-use service, but its current features lack options for transgender drivers to identify themselves correctly, which get some of them kicked off the app.

Transgender drivers across the country are finding their accounts either temporarily or permanently suspended due to an Uber security feature that requires drivers to take a selfie to verify their identity. If the photo doesn't come back as a match to other photos on file, it will get flagged.

Janey Webb began transitioning her gender around the time she started working for Uber in October 2017. Since then, her physical appearance has changed quite a bit. For another job that might not be a huge issue, but for Uber drivers a drastic change in appearance raises an algorithmic red flag.
But Uber is not alone in this problem; other applications are also creating problems for us.
Uber’s ‘Real-time ID Check’ doesn’t deal well with transgender drivers
The Next Web
By Tristan Greene
August 8, 2018

In this latest facial recognition SNAFU, originally reported by CNBC, Uber’s software (which runs on Microsoft’s Cognitive Services) flagged driver Janey Webb during a routine check. The company randomly requires drivers to take selfies periodically in order to prove they’re who they claim to be when they log in.
There’s certainly an argument to be made that knowing facial recognition technology is currently incapable of identifying people of color and trans individuals with the same accuracy as white cis-gendered people, yet still deploying it and requiring all employees to use it, is an act of malicious bigotry.

Because it’s not just Uber. Facial recognition technology is proliferating throughout the US. Police in Florida and Oregon recently trialed a system called Rekognition from Amazon, prompting Brian Brackeen, the CEO of facial recognition AI company Kairos, to tell TNW “I see a world where Amazon Rekognition could send more innocent African Americans to jail.”
The companies deploying facial recognition technology with total disregard for its technical limitations are, apparently, more interested in profits than civil rights. It wouldn’t be acceptable to sell a smart phone that doesn’t work for white women or open a company break room that gay men aren’t allowed to use. Why is it acceptable for any company to deploy identification software that doesn’t work for its transgender employees?
They got that right, “…are, apparently, more interested in profits than civil rights”

I think the woman at FanFair was ahead of her time, this could become a big problem for us. Not only by misidentifying us but also identifying trans people who are not out.

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