Dangers Of Facial Recognition

Grind for July 31st, 2018
“They who dream by day are cognizant of many things which escape those who dream only by night.”

– Edgar Allan Poe


The Headline

Economic growth at 4.1% for Q2

The Grind

The US Commerce Department on Friday reported 4.1% economic growth for Q2 (April-June). This figure, which is line with analysts’ predictions, marks the strongest performance since Q3 of 2014.

Combined with Q1’s 2.2% growth, this could be enough to push 2018 annual growth to 3% (something Trump has sought to accomplish).

Details include:

– A 9.3% increase in exports ahead of retaliatory tariffs

– A 4% increase in consumer spending

– A 1.8% increase in consumer prices

– A 3.5% increase in federal spending

“Our country is doing GREAT,” tweeted Trump on Tuesday. “Best financial numbers on the planet. Great to have USA WINNING AGAIN!”

The Details

Numbers for Q2 are in line with promises from the Trump Administration that tax and regulatory changes would boost economic growth.

At the same time, analysts warn Trump not to expect this level of growth to continue.

“With the trade-related boost expected to unwind in the second half of the year, economists caution against putting much weight on the surge in the April-June quarter growth,” reports Newsmax.

“In one line: looks great, won’t last,” says British economist Ian Shepherdson. “If you borrow enough money from your grandchildren and throw it at the economy, it will grow faster, for a while.”

The Federal Reserve predicts annual growth will be 2.8% for 2018, 2.4% the following year, and 2% for 2020.

Operator Error

The Headline

Amazon-made facial recognition system falsely identifies 28 lawmakers

The Grind

In a recent test conducted by the ACLU, Amazon’s “Rekognition” program incorrectly matched 28 US Congresspeople to mugshots of other people.

The test, which compared all 535 Congresspeople to a database of 25,000 mugshots, was set at “80% confidence” for a cost of about $13.

The Details

Test results suggest Rekognition is more likely to mistakenly identify people of color – something that could exacerbate problems these people already face when dealing with law enforcement.

People of color make up 20% of Congress, but accounted for 39% of the false matches.

“People of color are already disproportionately harmed by police practices, and it’s easy to see how Rekognition could exacerbate that,” notes the ACLU. “An identification – whether accurate or not – could cost people their freedom or even their lives.”

Amazon blamed the inaccurate results on the low calibration level.

“While 80% confidence is an acceptable threshold for photos of hot dogs, chairs, animals, or other social media use cases, it wouldn’t be appropriate for identifying individuals with a reasonable level of certainty,” said an Amazon spokesperson.

Amazon recommends a confidence level of at least 95% in situations where test results might have serious consequences. But lower calibration levels are less expensive, and there’s nothing preventing law enforcement agencies from choosing the cheaper option.

The ACLU is one of dozens of organizations actively petitioning against the use of Rekognition in law enforcement.

Valentine Tapley promised to never shave again if Abraham Lincoln was elected president. He died in 1910 with a 12-foot-long beard.