Microsoft and Facial Recognition: An Attempt to Parry Amazon?

December 7, 2018

Image recognition is widely used in many products, applications, and software systems. Most people don’t think too much about how a camera can read a license plate, figure out who has entered a building, or what “sign” indicates a potential problem like a gang attack.

Why would the average bear?

Microsoft is becoming more vocal about facial recognition. On the surface, the concern seems reasonable, almost a public service.

I read “Microsoft Sounds an Alarm over Facial Recognition Technology.” The write up seems okay, almost a good Samaritan effort. I noted this statement:

The AI Now researchers are particularly concerned about what’s called “affect recognition” — and attempt to identify people’s emotions, and possibly manipulate them, using machine learning.

Emotion analysis is interesting. But is the concern over facial recognition more of a business initiative, not a push to create awareness for a technology which has been around for decades. Sure facial recognition is getting better, faster, and cheaper. Like other technologies, facial recognition diffuses into other products, including those used by Ecuador, ZTE, and US analysts trying to make sense of imagery from a warzone.

Microsoft used the AI Now information to express concern for a race to the bottom. That’s interesting. A company which has facial recognition technology and a penchant for creating problems via a routine update to individual users’ computers is looking out for me. Yeah, right.

Imagine. The USSS wants to use facial recognition near the White House. Why not just hire another 200 agents to walk around or sit in surveillance suites looking for potential problems? Advanced technology is often useful to law enforcement and intelligence professionals. Expanding the use of that technology to safeguard those who work in certain US government facilities makes sense to me.

What’s really pushing Microsoft to become the champion for facial recognition controls?

In my view, Amazon is. Check out Amazon’s patents for facial recognition. These are examples of what I call “policeware” and the innovations have other applications as well. A good place to begin is with US9465994B1.

My view is that Microsoft’s concern about facial recognition has more to do with adding friction to Amazon’s progress than it does with a concern for me and my beloved Beyond Search goose here in Harrod’s Creek, Kentucky. For more about Amazon’s policeware technologies, navigate to and search for DarkCyber Amazon.

Stephen E Arnold, December 7, 2018


One Response to “Microsoft and Facial Recognition: An Attempt to Parry Amazon?”

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