New York expected to launch AI commission as school district pauses facial recognition plans

artificial-intelligence

The planned implementation of biometric facial recognition in Lockport City School District (LCSD) is being delayed after the New York State Education Department asked the district to delay testing the software, the Niagara Gazette reports.

New York Governor Andrew Cuomo’s office says that facial recognition use in schools needs to be studied for bias and data security risk, but stopped short of explicitly coming out in favor of a bill to place a one-year moratorium on the use case in comments to the Gazette.

LCSD had planned to begin implementing facial recognition in its schools this week, though a recently introduced bill would pause all deployments while the state education commissioner performs a study on the issue. The Gazette asked if the governor supports the bill blocking it, and a spokesperson responded more generally.

“This issue needs to be explored further as we seek to balance safety and privacy‎ of our schoolchildren, especially in respect to these new and emerging technologies to avoid issues of bias and serious concerns regarding data storage,” the representative wrote.

The state legislature is also considering a bill to ban the use of facial recognition by landlords.

The chances of either facial recognition bill passing are uncertain, but GovTech reports that a bill to establish a state commission for artificial intelligence in New York is expected to pass soon.

Assembly member Clyde Vanel, who sponsored the bill, invoked killer robots and questioned who would be held responsible for their actions, and suggested that the state government and the rest of the world need to move fast to catch up to AI. The bill passed through the state senate in May.

The state commission would be tasked with evaluating the impact of artificial intelligence, but also finding ways to nurture its development for economic gain. Experts in the field would be included, and potential restrictions and liability issues considered.

Stanford Artificial Intelligence and Law Society Founder Zach Harned says states should consider the challenges facial recognition poses to privacy and anonymity, and algorithmic fairness, as well as the cybersecurity of state data and resources, and the threat of deepfakes.

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