- Amazon Web Services has added several new features to its facial-recognition technology, Rekognition.
- This includes expanded age-recognition capabilities and the new ability to recognize fear.
- Rekognition is a controversial technology and has been the subject of much criticism and protests — from both inside and outside Amazon.
- These new features drew some flack from commenters on Twitter.
- Meanwhile, the US Customers and Border Patrol is looking for quotes on a sweeping new border protection system that includes more facial-recognition tech.
Amazon Web Services has expanded the capabilities of its controversial facial-recognition technology called Rekognition.
It now better detects more age ranges and it can also detect fear, the company announced in a blog post on Monday.
The company explained (emphasis ours):
“Today, we are launching accuracy and functionality improvements to our face analysis features. Face analysis generates metadata about detected faces in the form of gender, age range, emotions, attributes such as ‘Smile’, face pose, face image quality and face landmarks. With this release, we have further improved the accuracy of gender identification. In addition, we have improved accuracy for emotion detection (for all 7 emotions: ‘Happy’, ‘Sad’, ‘Angry’, ‘Surprised’, ‘Disgusted’, ‘Calm’ and ‘Confused’) and added a new emotion: ‘Fear’.Lastly, we have improved age range estimation accuracy; you also get narrower age ranges across most age groups.”
Earlier this month AWS also announced that Rekognition can now detect violent content such as blood, wounds, weapons, self-injury, corpses, as well as sexually explicit content.
But it was the news of more age ranges and fear detection that was met with comments on Twitter.
Just last month several protesters interrupted Amazon AWS CTO Werner Vogels during a keynote speech at an AWS conference in New York.
They were protesting AWS’s work with the U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) and the family separation policy at the Southern Border. Amazon hasn’t acknowledged whether ICE uses its Rekognition technology, but the company did meet with ICE officials to pitch its facial-recognition tech, among other AWS services, as revealed by emails between Amazon and various government officials obtained by the American Civil Liberties Union Foundations.
Amazon’s Rekognition has come under fire from a wide range of groups who want the company to stop selling it to law enforcement agencies. In April, AI experts penned an open letter to Amazon about it. Civil rights group have protested it. 100 Amazon employees sent a letter to management last year asking the company to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement. Another 500 signed a letter this year asking Amazon to stop working with ICE altogether.
“AWS comes under fire for Rekognition sales to the federal government, who in turn is building concentration camps for children, and AWS’s response is to improve ‘age range estimation’ and ‘fear detection’ in the service? Are you f– KIDDING ME?!” tweeted Corey Quinn from the Duckbill Group, a consultant that helps companies manage their AWS bill. Quinn also hosts theScreaming in the Cloud podcast.
Another developer tweeted, “In 25 years we’re going to be talking about how AWS handled this situation in the same way we talk about how IBM enabled the holocaust. Every engineer and ML researcher who worked on this should be ashamed of themselves.”
The CBP is looking to buy more facial-recognition tech
Meanwhile, the U.S. Customs and Border Protection (CBP), a sister agency to ICE, has put out a new request for quotes on a sweeping new border-security system that includes expanded use of facial-recognition technology.
“Integration of facial recognition technologies is intended throughout all passenger applications,” the RFQ documents say.
The CBP already uses facial recognition at various airports, such as in Mexico City, where it matches passenger’s faces with photos taken from their passports or other government documents, it says.
And the CBP uses other biometric information, such as taking fingerprints of people at the border if it suspects that they are entering the country illegally, it says.
“CBP’s future vision for biometric exit is to build the technology nationwide using cloud computing,” the agency wrote in a 2017 article about the use of facial recognition and finger-print tech.
This new contract for new border security technologies is expected to begin in early 2020 and could be worth $950 million over its lifespan, according to the RFQ documents.
This article was originally published on Business Insider. Copyright 2019.
Addressing cybercrime with passwordless authentication
Cybercrime costs the global economy $2.9 million every minute, according to a RiskIQ report titled The Evil Internet Minute, adding up to $1.5 trillion in a year.
The cause? 80% of attacks are password-related issues.
Just think: How many times have you been prompted to change your password by your bank or email company? How many times have you heard the term “data breach” in the news? How many accounts do you have that require two-step authentication? How many passwords do you have, scattered across various accounts?
PINs, passwords, security questions are a daily part of our lives, but it’s typically nothing more than a hassle when we have to change them. For larger organizations, however, costs add up. Estimates show that nearly 50 percent of IT help desk costs are allocated to password resets.
Enter: Passwordless authentication — harnessing the power of technologies like AI and Machine Learning to save time and money.
Cyber security is high on the World Economic Forum’s agenda, and in collaboration with open industry association FIDO Alliance, WEF’s whitepaper Passwordless Authentication The next breakthrough in secure digital transformation presents a framework for future authentication systems, illustrating five key passwordless technologies organizations can implement.
As part of Davos 2020, the paper — featuring lead authors Andrew Shikiar (Executive Director and Chief Marketing Officer, FIDO Alliance) and Adrien Ogee (Project Lead, Platform for Shaping the Future of Cybersecurity and Digital Trust, World Economic Forum) — outlines that “passwords are indeed at the heart of the data breach problem,” and presents facial biometric technology, hardware keys, and even QR codes and behavioural analysis as the future of passwordless authentication.
At #Davos, @WEF's new paper points to #FIDO as a viable alternative to passwords. It’s validating to see WEF educate world leaders on the economic impact of legacy authentication practices, and recognize better alternatives ready to implement today. https://t.co/QFhLXhKfL2 pic.twitter.com/pqw5RSMsHe
— The FIDO Alliance (@FIDOAlliance) January 22, 2020
“While company adoption of platform businesses is increasingly driving business valuation and growth, the problem of digital trust is growing equally fast and eroding confidence across online communities,” explains the introduction.
“Security enhancement is a continuous process, there is no magic bullet. Cyber criminals will adapt and develop new means of attack, but the alternative authentication mechanisms presented here provide greater challenge to them and greater security in the foreseeable future.”
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
How BMO branch technology saves employees up to 30 minutes per day
When it comes to banking, it comes as little surprise that customers are increasingly preferring tellerless interactions.
A recent customer insight report from Mercator Advisory Group found that those who don’t like using mobile and online banking prefer to use self-service kiosks at physical branch locations.
Even back in 2015, a study by Source Technologies found that self-service retail banking kiosks improve operations, “reducing the time it takes to get an official check from nine minutes (using a teller) to 40 seconds – 13.5 times faster than a teller-conducted transaction.”
When banks invest in features like remote authentication and mobile deposits, it isn’t just customers who benefit — staff are able to better focus on more complex transactions, and developing relationships with clients.
“We see that more and more of our customers are migrating toward self-serve interactions, especially for the simpler, straightforward transactions,” explained Kyle Barnett, BMO’s chief operating officer for US personal and business banking, in an interview with PYMNTS.
One of technologies implemented by BMO was a faster, real-time process for scanning and depositing cheques, saving customers from having to fill out a paper deposit slip. This has led to deposits clearing within hours instead of days.
Another BMO implementation was its easy PIN authentication; instead of using a driver’s licenses or state-issued ID, customers use debit cards to verify their identities. The transaction is therefore accelerated, and data is aggregated instantly on the teller’s screen.
Both of these improvements were implemented in more than 500 branches by the end of 2019.
“If a customer walks in and opens up an account [during the] same interaction, they can actually leave with a fully functioning, embossed card that has their name on it,” Barnett said.
And unlike before, when a customer was issued a temporary card and had to wait for the fully-functioning replacement to arrive in the mail, “they also get the PIN right there as part of the account opening, and can even set up a custom PIN if they want at the ATM.”
With the in-branch experience changing, and customers requiring fewer interactions with tellers, the result has been “really freeing up our branch bankers to have more time to dedicate to customers, and have better holistic conversations, and create more personalized recommendations.”
One case study found that employees have saved between 15 and 30 minutes per day on processing forms. Multiply that by the number of employees within BMO, and you get a major win for efficiency and time saving.
DX Journal covers the impact of digital transformation (DX) initiatives worldwide across multiple industries.
How to accelerate business change using data and AI
AI poses as many challenges as opportunities. Here are a few common characteristics we’ve seen among businesses that have realized success with data and AI.
By Bret Greenstein
Most senior leaders would agree that adapting in real time to customer and market needs is vital for achieving their visions and goals. And to develop this capability, they’d also likely agree they need data and artificial intelligence (AI).
The examples are all around us. The city of Chicago uses 12 variables, including high daily temperatures, to prioritize which of the city’s 7,000 “high-risk” restaurants it should send its 35 food inspectors to. The AI solution found violations a week earlier than they otherwise would have.
We helped an insurer create an AI system that provides underwriters with more precise estimates of risk, as well as the likelihood applicants will accept a specific price quote. The insurer can adjust how the AI environment makes its approval and pricing recommendations to ensure compliance with changing corporate priorities around risk vs. revenue.
We’ve also seen AI help predict customers’ emerging needs as markets change. If the economy goes into a recession, informed analysis could help organizations not only cut costs but also provide the products and services customers might need in a downturn.
And, of course, there are the businesses that have used data and AI to create new revenue streams and business models that drive lasting competitive advantage. For game changers like Uber, data is at the core of the company and constitutes value, not cost.
Facing up to AI realities
But there’s another hard fact that would draw consensus from many business leaders today: the unprecedented effort required to move an enterprise in an AI direction. The fact is, AI-enabled business change requires as much alteration to corporate culture, organizational structures and processes, and workforce roles and skills as it does new technology.
For example, too many organizations still treat data as an expense and a security risk. Technical or organizational siloes make it difficult to pool information in flexible data lakes. Many businesses also lack the skills to manage AI-enabled analytics amid rising privacy and ethical concerns. Others are unable to provide audit trails on how AI decisions were made or deliver AI-enabled analytics quickly enough.
AI success factors
Here are a few common characteristics we’ve seen among businesses that have realized success with data and AI:
- Senior leadership is passionate about the value of data. CIOs can play a big role here. They need to work with the CEO and business leaders to resolve the tension between business managers who want more access to data and the pressure to restrict such access to reduce cost and risk.
- Data scientists embedded with business users. By working more closely with business users, data scientists can better understand the business context behind their requests. Business managers may say they need “X,” but what they really need is a solution to a problem, which may or may not be “X.”
- The establishment of an AI oversight role. Because AI systems learn and improve, they can produce different results at different times based on the data they’re given and the algorithms applied. This means they require closer oversight than traditional systems that are coded, tested and summarily released – and then left alone.In some ways, managing an AI system is like raising a child. You need to be sure they’re not being trained with intentionally or unintentionally biased data or by malicious users. If a loan application is denied, for example, you need to know the decision was ethically sound.
- Plenty of high-quality data. The more high-quality data, the better and more quickly the AI system can learn. To supply that data, organizations must refine their processes for ongoing data preparation, integration and pipelining. This essential groundwork is the hardest part in building an AI system.
- Modernized infrastructure. An infrastructure based on application programming interfaces (APIs) and Agile development techniques makes it easier to quickly deliver new AI-based applications. This more flexible infrastructure enables organizations to better access needed data from outside the enterprise, and more effectively monetize the resulting insights by sharing them across the ecosystem.For instance, we worked with one of the world’s largest and busiest airports to revamp its technology infrastructure to increase airport efficiency and performance. The organization combined data and AI to unlock more capacity to serve airlines and reduce passenger misconnects.
Our final recommendation: Start now. AI can be difficult and complex, and it’s hard to catch up once you’ve fallen behind. Even modest successes will teach you a lot, and the real danger in digital is being a laggard.
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