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Amazon says its facial recognition tech can identify fear in people's faces

The company also improved its controversial technology's ability to estimate age ranges.
Mariella Moon, @mariella_moon
August 14, 2019
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Amazon says its contentious facial recognition technology can now detect fear in people's faces. That makes it the eighth emotion it can identify along with happiness, sadness, anger, surprise, disgust, calmness and confusion. In addition, Amazon says it has improved Rekognition's age range estimation accuracy, so customers can get narrower age ranges "across most age groups."

As you might have guessed, the latest updates have drawn flak, considering their nature -- they sure make the technology sound like it came straight out of a dystopian novel -- and the fact that Amazon's customers include law enforcement agencies. Facial recognition, after all, is nowhere near perfect and still tends to misidentify women and persons of color. In 2018, ACLU even released a study showing that the technology misidentified 28 US lawmakers.

Civil rights groups called on the tech giant to stop selling Rekognition to law enforcement, but Amazon's investors voted against a proposal to limit the practice. The company also reportedly offered Rekognition to the US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE), which is perhaps one of the most controversial agencies today.

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