At a time when pressure is mounting on tech companies to utilise facial recognition technology with care to avoid its misuse, Google has said it will not offer the controversial technology for now. Toeing Microsoft’s line which has asked governments across the world to regulate this technology, Google said facial recognition merits careful consideration. “Like many technologies with multiple uses, facial recognition merits careful consideration to ensure its use is aligned with our principles and values and avoids abuse and harmful outcomes,” Kent Walker, Senior Vice President of Global Affairs at Google, said in a blog post on Friday.
“We continue to work with many organisations to identify and address these challenges, and unlike some other companies, Google Cloud has chosen not to offer general-purpose facial recognition APIs before working through important technology and policy questions,” informed Walker.
Earlier this month, Microsoft President Brad Smith said that given the potential for abuse of the fast advancing facial recognition technology, governments across the world need to start adopting laws to regulate this technology in 2019.
“Unless we act, we risk waking up five years from now to find that facial recognition services have spread in ways that exacerbate societal issues,” warned Smith in a blog post. “The time for action has arrived,” he said, adding that the industry must also exercise restraint while using this technology.
Microsoft is one of several companies playing a leading role in developing facial recognition technology. The company, Smith said, would start adopting new principles to manage the issues surrounding facial recognition technology in the first quarter of 2019.
According to Walker, Google has long been committed to the responsible development of AI. “These principles guide our decisions on what types of features to build and research to pursue. As one example, facial recognition technology has benefits in areas like new assistive technologies and tools to help find missing persons, with more promising applications on the horizon,” he added.