MIT research finds ethnic and gender bias in Amazon Rekognition

However, AWS said MIT's testing was "ill-advised" and its software not used in the way it was intended

Face being scanned by facial recognition tech

The Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) has discovered that Amazon's Rekognition facial recognition platform may not be identifying race or gender accurately or fairly. A report by the scientific research facility said tests it has conducted on the technology found that Rekognition was less effective at identifying some races and genders compared to others.

For example, it mistakenly identified some pictures of women as men and this was more prevalent when presented with pictures of darker-skinned women. In fact, 31% of the time, it made this wrongful conclusion, compared to an error margin of 1.5% with Microsoft's alternative software.

However, AWS said that its software isn't true "facial recognition" software, but "facial analysis". It has been designed to identify facial expressions rather than ethnicity or gender and that's why it's less accurate than its competitors.

"[F]acial analysis [is] usually used to help search a catalog of photographs," Dr. Matt Wood, general manager of deep learning and AI at AWS said in a statement to VentureBeat. "[F]acial recognition is a distinct and different feature from facial analysis and attempts to match faces that appear similar. This is the same approach used to unlock some phones, or authenticate somebody entering a building, or by law enforcement to narrow the field when attempting to identify a person of interest."

Advertisement
Advertisement - Article continues below

He added that it is "ill-advised" to use the software in the way that MIT did because it has not been designed to identify criminals. However, in tests with its latest version of the software, AWS said it used data from parliamentary websites to test accuracy and had no false positive matches with the 99% confidence threshold.

However, it seems the company needs to communicate its software's purpose to its shareholders better as some have requested that the company stop selling its facial recognition service because they feel it violates human civil rights.

Featured Resources

The essential guide to cloud-based backup and disaster recovery

Support business continuity by building a holistic emergency plan

Download now

Trends in modern data protection

A comprehensive view of the data protection landscape

Download now

How do vulnerabilities get into software?

90% of security incidents result from exploits against defects in software

Download now

Delivering the future of work - now

The CIO’s guide to building the unified digital workspace for today’s hybrid and multi-cloud strategies.

Download now
Advertisement

Most Popular

Visit/cloud/microsoft-azure/354230/microsoft-not-amazon-is-going-to-win-the-cloud-wars
Microsoft Azure

Microsoft, not Amazon, is going to win the cloud wars

30 Nov 2019
Visit/cloud/amazon-web-services-aws/354223/what-to-expect-from-aws-reinvent-2019
Amazon Web Services (AWS)

What to expect from AWS Re:Invent 2019

29 Nov 2019
Visit/hardware/354232/raspberry-pi-4-owners-complain-of-broken-wi-fi-when-using-hdmi
Hardware

Raspberry Pi 4 owners complain of broken Wi-Fi when using HDMI

29 Nov 2019
Visit/mobile/google-android/354189/samsung-galaxy-a90-5g-review-simply-the-best-value-5g-phone
Google Android

Samsung Galaxy A90 5G review: Simply the best value 5G phone

22 Nov 2019