Microsoft shuts down controversial facial recognition over abuse concerns


Microsoft’s facial recognition technology, with which the company claims to be able to guess people’s emotions, will be discontinued. According to Microsoft, artificial intelligence has raised questions about privacy and the potential for discrimination and other forms of abuse.

This is facial recognition in Azure Face, which Microsoft sells to enterprises. Not only does the technology guess what emotions a person is showing, but the system also recognizes gender, age, hair and makeup.

Microsoft worked with researchers to list the pros and cons of the technology. “Specifically in the case of emotion recognition, this has raised many questions about privacy and the lack of a conclusive definition of the word ’emotions,'” the company writes. “The same goes for the inability to relate facial expressions to the emotional state of people in different situations and regions.”

In order to limit the risk of abuse, the service will be interrupted. New users can no longer purchase the service, existing customers will have access until June 30 next year.

Criticism of facial recognition systems for some time now

Experts have long been negative about the consequences of face-reading programs. For example, they could lead to discrimination between employers when hiring new people. Additionally, U.S. and European lawmakers are discussing the legality of the technology.

IBM stopped developing facial recognition two years ago. According to the company, the systems are often biased and can be used for mass surveillance and ethnic profiling.

While Microsoft will discontinue parts of its facial recognition, some will remain available. This is Seeing AI, suitable for people with visual impairments. Image recognition is used in the app to describe the environment.

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