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Three Big Tech Players Back Out of Facial Recognition Market

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By John P. Desmond, AI Trends Editor

In the span of 72 hours, both IBM and Amazon backed out of the facial recognition business this week.

It’s a chess match on the geopolitical playing board, with AI ethics and data bias in play.

IBM moved first, closely followed by Amazon.

 (And then two days later Microsoft announced its intention to also exit the market; see below.)

The moves came after demonstrations were held across both the US and the world, in response to police mistreatment of black Americans. Facial recognition software has been called out by privacy and AI ethics groups as having higher error rates for people of color.

New IBM CEO Arvind Krishna stated in a letter to Congress on June 8, “IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial-recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and principles of trust and transparency.”

Amazon then announced on Wednesday that it is implementing a one-year moratorium on police use of its Rekognition technology, but it would still allow organizations focused on stopping human trafficking to continue to use the technology.

On its THINKPolicy Blog, IBM posted the letter from CEO Krishna submitted to Congress. It states in part, “IBM no longer offers general purpose IBM facial recognition or analysis software. IBM firmly opposes and will not condone uses of any technology, including facial recognition technology offered by other vendors, for mass surveillance, racial profiling, violations of basic human rights and freedoms, or any purpose which is not consistent with our values and Principles of Trust and Transparency. We believe now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”

Amazon’s blog release stated in part, “We’ve advocated that governments should put in place stronger regulations to govern the ethical use of facial recognition technology, and in recent days, Congress appears ready to take on this challenge. We hope this one-year moratorium might give Congress enough time to implement appropriate rules, and we stand ready to help if requested.”

Amazon’s move was seen as “smart PR” in an account in Fast Company, which was skeptical that the 12-month moratorium would result in a significant change. Nicole Ozer, the technology and civil liberties director with the ACLU of Northern California, was quoted as stating, “This surveillance technology’s threat to our civil rights and civil liberties will not disappear in a year. Amazon must fully commit to a blanket moratorium on law enforcement use of face recognition until the dangers can be fully addressed, and it must press Congress and legislatures across the country to do the same.”

Nicole Ozer, technology and civil liberties director, ACLU of Northern California

Ozer went on to argue that Amazon “should also commit to stop selling surveillance systems like Ring that fuel the over-policing of communities of color.” She added “Face recognition technology gives governments the unprecedented power to spy on us wherever we go. It fuels police abuse. This surveillance technology must be stopped.”

A recent account from the Electronic Frontier Foundation warned consumers that video from Ring is in the Amazon cloud and is potentially accessible by Amazon employees and law enforcement agencies with agreements in place with Amazon.

Joy Buolamwini Led Research that Discovered Bias

In a piece in AI Trends last year, Facial Recognition Software Facing Challenges, described the work of MIT researcher Joy Buolamwini. Today she refers to herself as a “poet of code” and fighter for “algorithmic justice.”

The study from MIT Media Lab researchers​ in February 2018 found that Microsoft, IBM and China-based Megvii (FACE++) tools had high error rates when identifying darker-skin women compared to lighter-skin men. Buolamwini got the attention of the technology giants, members of Congress and other AI scholars.

“There needs to be a choice,” stated Buolamwini in an account in the Denver Post. “Right now, what’s happening is these technologies are being deployed widely without oversight, oftentimes covertly, so that by the time we wake up, it’s almost too late.”

She caught some flak from the tech giants. Amazon challenged what it called Buolamwini’s “erroneous claims” and said the study confused facial analysis with facial recognition, improperly measuring the former with techniques for evaluating the latter.

“The answer to anxieties over new technology is not to run ‘tests’ inconsistent with how the service is designed to be used, and to amplify the test’s false and misleading conclusions through the news media,” Matt Wood, general manager of artificial intelligence for Amazon’s cloud-computing division, wrote in a January 2019 blog post.

Buolamwini, who has founded a coalition of scholars, activists and others called the Algorithmic Justice League, has blended her scholarly investigations with activism. She has said a major message of her research is that AI systems need to be carefully reviewed and consistently monitored if they’re going to be used on the public. Not just to audit for accuracy, she said, but to ensure face recognition isn’t abused to violate privacy or cause other harms.

“We can’t just leave it to companies alone to do these kinds of checks,” she said.

No news of any change in China, where the government has embraced facial recognition and is expanding its use.

Read the source articles in Fortune, CNBC, TechCrunch, Fast Company and AI Trends.

Joy Buolamwini Comments for AI Trends

AI Trends reached out to Joy Buolamwini on these recent developments to get her reaction. She sent this response:

“With IBM’s decision and Amazon’s recent announcement, the efforts of so many civil liberties organizations, activists, shareholders, employees and researchers to end harmful use of facial recognition are gaining even more momentum. Given Amazon’s public dismissals of research showing racial and gender bias in their facial recognition and analysis systems, including research I coauthored with Deborah Raji, this is a welcomed though unexpected announcement.

“Microsoft also needs to take a stand. More importantly our lawmakers need to step up. We cannot rely on self-regulation or hope companies will choose to reign in harmful deployments of the technologies they develop. I reiterate a call for a federal moratorium on all government use of facial recognition technologies. The Algorithmic Justice League recently released a white paper calling for a federal office to set redlines and guidelines for this complex set of technologies which offers a pathway forward. The first step is to press pause, not just company wide, but nationwide.

“I also call on all companies that substantially profit from AI — including  IBM. Amazon, Microsoft, Facebook, Google, and Apple— to commit at least 1 million dollars each towards advancing racial justice in the tech industry. The money should go directly as unrestricted gifts to support organizations like the Algorithmic Justice League, Black in AI, and Data for Black Lives that have been leading this work for years. Racial justice requires algorithmic justice.

From Joy Buolamwini at the Algorithmic Justice League.

Update: Microsoft Also Exits the Market

Later the same day Buolamwini sent AI Trends these comments, Thursday, June 11, Microsoft President Brad Smith confirmed in a Washington Post live event that Microsoft would also exit the facial recognition market, according to an account in The Washington Post.  

“We will not sell facial-recognition technology to police departments in the United States until we have a national law in place, grounded in human rights, that will govern this technology,” Smith stated, making clear the Microsoft decision is for now a moratorium.

Source: https://www.aitrends.com/ethics-and-social-issues/ibm-amazon-back-out-of-facial-recognition-marketing-citing-bias/

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I Disagree With Armostrong: Ripple CEO on Coinbase Apolitical Policy

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Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse is the latest popular individual to criticize the apolitical approach recently taken by the cryptocurrency exchange Coinbase. Just the opposite, Ripple has offered employees paid time off to vote and volunteer in the upcoming US Presidential elections.

Ripple CEO Disagrees With Coinbase CEO

Brian Armstrong, the Chief Executive Officer of the veteran US-based digital asset platform Coinbase, raised lots of controversies recently after a blog post. He argued that his company should remain laser-focused on its mission to ascend as a cryptocurrency exchange and its employees need to avert from any political discussions or endeavors.

This so-called “apolitical” approach received reactions from people within and outside of the cryptocurrency space. Most, such as Twitter’s CEO Jack Dorsey, criticized Armstrong’s actions.

The latest to join the “I don’t agree with Armstrong bandwagon” is Brad Garlinghouse – the CEO of the payment protocol Ripple. He asserted that technology companies have the “obligation” to assist with solving social issues.

“We think about our mission as enabling an internet of value, but we seek positive outcomes for society. I think tech companies have an opportunity – but actually an obligation – to lean into being part of the solution.”

Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. Source: Fortune
Ripple CEO Brad Garlinghouse. Source: Fortune

He called some of these social problems “exacerbated” by the tech sectors. As such, Ripple has decided to take the precisely opposite approach. The Silicon Valley-based company will offer its employees paid time off to volunteer and vote in the upcoming US Presidential elections.

It’s worth noting that Coinbase has seen at least 5% of its staff leaving following Armstrong’s apolitical urge. The exchange offered “generous exit packages” to all that disagreed with its politics.

Garlinghouse On The Ongoing YouTube Legal Battle

As CryptoPotato reported in April, Ripple filed a lawsuit against the most widely used video-sharing platform – YouTube. Ripple claimed that the Google-owned giant hadn’t done enough to fight the growing number of fake giveaways impersonating company executives and duping thousands and thousands of dollars from victims.

During the CNBC interview, Garlinghouse used the opportunity to criticize YouTube and its lack of appropriate actions once more. He doubled-down that Ripple doesn’t do such giveaways, and people need to be extremely cautious when they see one, even if it’s on a trusted platform.

“We didn’t need to do that [giveaways]; it doesn’t help Ripple. But what it highlights is that platforms need to take ownership of the problems they are contributing to.”

Featured Image Courtesy of VOX

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/i-disagree-with-armostrong-ripple-ceo-on-coinbase-apolitical-policy/

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The PayPal Effect: Billionaire Chamath Palihapitiya And Libra’s Chief Believe Banks Will Support Bitcoin

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PayPal’s decision to enable its users to interact with cryptocurrencies directly on its platform continues to attract popular individuals’ attention. The latest to acknowledge the significance of this move were the Head of Facebook Financial, David Marcus, and Social Capital CEO Chamath Palihapitiya.

Banks Will Follow PayPal, Says Marcus

Arguably the most significant piece of news recently came last week when the giant online payment processor PayPal announced it will soon enable its US-based customer to purchase, sell, and store several cryptocurrencies, including Bitcoin and Ethereum. Clients based outside the US will have this option available next year.

Apart from the immediate price reaction the news had on the cryptocurrency market, the community also accepted the announcement as a significantly bullish development.

In fact, most believe that this is just the beginning, and more centralized and trusted establishments, such as banks, will follow suit. Co-creator and board member of Facebook’s future cryptocurrency Libra, David Marcus, also weighed in on the news.

He asserted that the cryptocurrency industry is “turning a corner” as banks will pursue Bitcoin and stablecoins support.

Bitcoin Is No Longer Optional

Another famous individual to comment on the PayPal developments was the Social Capital CEO and former Facebook executive, Chamath Palihapitiya.

Being also a vocal supporter of Bitcoin, Palihapitiya, similarly to Marcus, highlighted that “every major bank is having a meeting about how to support Bitcoin. It’s no longer optional…”

Palihapitiya recently said that his first BTC purchase came at the start of the previous decade. He bought one million bitcoins for $80. Later on, he outlined the primary cryptocurrency as his best investment bet.

Social Capital’s CEO has also urged the public numerous times to allocate at least 1% of their investment portfolio in Bitcoin. He said that having such allocation helps him sleep “soundly at night.”

He also advised that people should avert from short-term price actions. Instead, he focuses on the long-term, knowing that Bitcoin’s fundamentally different attributes will protect him against the falling current financial infrastructure.

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Source: https://cryptopotato.com/the-paypal-effect-billionaire-chamath-palihapitiya-and-libras-chief-believe-banks-will-support-bitcoin/

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BTC Price Analysis: Bitcoin Weakens As Wall Street In Deep Red, Is $14K Target Intact?

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Bitcoin’s price remains stuck under the key 0.618 Fibonacci level at $13,360 going into this week after little bullish momentum arrived during the opening of the US traditional markets. Wall Street, meanwhile, is painted in red.

Over shorter timeframes, it’s clear that the general sentiment is still bullish as the leading asset continues to print higher lows. However, trading volumes are beginning to decline, and there’s a growing divergence between the RSI and price action, which suggests things may turn bearish soon.

Since the Paypal news broke on October 21, over $33 billion has flooded back into the crypto space and helped the leading asset’s market dominance break back over 61% for the first time since August 2, 2020.

Price Levels to Watch in the Short-term

On the weekly BTC/USD chart, we can see that the main resistance area (red shaded zone) standing in the way of Bitcoin right now is the aforementioned Fibonacci level and the June 24, 2019 high at $13,950.

This top price point also overlaps with the upper resistance of the broadening wedge pattern (yellow lines) that BTC has been tracking inside of since April 27, which makes it a particularly strong level for bulls to overcome.

If momentum picks up again, however, and bulls manage to set a new 490+-day high, then the next likely areas of resistance will probably lie somewhere around the psychological $14K mark, the $14,400 level, and $14,600.

If the strong bearish divergence on the 4-hour timeframe plays out (light blue lines), we should expect the first area of support at the 50 EMA at $12,600, followed by the first major support zone (green shaded area) between $12,300 and $11,950. Under that, we also have the 0.5 Fibonacci level at $11,400 and the support line of the broadening wedge pattern approximately around $11K to catch any dips if prices decline further.

Total market capital: $401 billion
Bitcoin market capital: $243 billion
Bitcoin dominance: 60.5%

*Data by Coingecko.

Bitstamp BTC/USD Weekly Chart

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BTC/USD chart via Tradingview.

Bitstamp BTC/USD 4-Hour Chart

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BTC/USD chart via Tradingview.
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Disclaimer: Information found on CryptoPotato is those of writers quoted. It does not represent the opinions of CryptoPotato on whether to buy, sell, or hold any investments. You are advised to conduct your own research before making any investment decisions. Use provided information at your own risk. See Disclaimer for more information.

Cryptocurrency charts by TradingView.


Source: https://cryptopotato.com/btc-price-analysis-bitcoin-weakens-as-wall-street-in-deep-red-is-14k-target-intact/

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