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Axon CEO says facial recognition not accurate enough for police body cameras

Axon CEO says facial recognition not accurate enough for police body cameras

Facial recognition is not yet accurate enough to be added to body cameras, Axon CEO Rick Smith said in a recent earnings call, Gizmodo reports. Smith acknowledged privacy and policy concerns, but also said that accuracy thresholds reached by the technology are not sufficient to enable operational decisions.

Axon created an AI ethics board earlier this year to consider the implications of building powerful new technologies into police body cameras, and was recently reported to be considering implementing real-time facial recognition in its products.

“This is one where we think you don’t want to be premature and end up either where you have technical failures with disastrous outcomes or… there’s some unintended use-case where it ends up being unacceptable publicly in terms of long-term use of the technology,” Smith said during the call.

The statement comes months after facial recognition provider Kairos reportedly declined to partner with Axon. Kairos CEO Brian Brackeen said in a recent TechCrunch editorial that the technology is too vulnerable to bias, invasion of privacy and abuse for governments to use facial recognition.

Ongoing trials of facial recognition for public surveillance by UK police have had uninspiring accuracy rates, with false positives above 90 percent. An increasingly public debate on the place in law enforcement and society of facial recognition and biometrics in general has drawn in companies from Amazon to Microsoft and SensibleVision.

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