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Amazon rolling out ‘AI Service Cards’ for transparency on facial recognition limitations

Amazon rolling out ‘AI Service Cards’ for transparency on facial recognition limitations

Amazon’s cloud-computing division will roll out warnings for software in its online marketplace to tackle artificial intelligence (AI) and biometric bias and other limits.

Talking to Reuters, Amazon representatives said its AI Service Cards would be publicly available to enable business customers to see the limitations of specific cloud services.

According to the company, which released the first three cards on Wednesday, the warnings will relate to sensitive demographic issues and include biases in facial recognition and audio transcription.

“We are excited to announce AWS AI Service Cards, a new resource to increase transparency and help customers better understand our AWS AI services, including how to use them in a responsible way,” AWS wrote in a blog post.

“They are part of a comprehensive development process we undertake to build our services in a responsible way with fairness and bias, robustness, explainability, governance, transparency, privacy, and security in mind.”

A card for the controversial Rekognition image and video analysis and facial recognition service, says the company does not support matching “images that are too blurry and grainy for the face to be recognized by a human” or that have “large portions of the face occluded by hair, hands, and other objects.” The firm’s biometrics are also unable to reliably match faces in cartoons and other “nonhuman entities.” Some American police have attempted to use facial recognition software this way in the past.

Amazon has been scrutinized in the past for selling Rekognition software directly to law enforcement, and how long the ensuing ban will last remains to be seen. It was extended indefinitely last year.

Another card refers to Amazon Transcribe, a subsidiary providing audio transcription, stating that users “inconsistently modifying audio inputs” using its software could experience “unfair outcomes for different demographic groups.” The third card published by AWS so far is for Textract AnalyzeID.

Amazon’s AI Service Cards come amidst a push from industry and academia to tackle biometric bias. And while challenges remain, researchers say measures are improving.

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