Axon won’t use facial recognition tech in its police body cameras

Its AI ethics board determined the tech is too faulty and biased.

Axon, a major supplier of police body cameras and software, announced today that it will not include face-matching technology in its body cameras -- at least not yet. The decision follows a report from Axon's independent AI ethics board, which concluded that face recognition technology is not reliable enough to justify its use in body cameras. According to the report, there is "evidence of unequal and unreliable performance across races, ethnicities, genders and other identity groups."

Axon has not yet deployed facial recognition technology in any of its body cameras, but it has been using the AI to help blur faces in videos before they are released to the public. In a press release, the company said it will continue developing the technology in an ethical manner and will work to de-bias its algorithms.

Earlier this year, another report by the MIT Media Lab found that Amazon's facial analysis tools also have racial and gender biases. And last month, legislation in California proposed banning the use of facial recognition in police-worn cameras. That followed on the heels of San Francisco banning city government (including police) from using facial recognition. While Axon could set a precedent in the law enforcement community, the use of facial recognition by police seems to be moving forward unimpeded in places like Beijing.