IBM has announced that it will be quitting its facial recognition business in light of the dialogue that has emerged around police brutality and racial injustice from the Goerge Floyd tragedy. The company said that will no longer be developing, creating, researching or selling facial recognition products in application programming interface or any other form. However, it will still continue to “support clients as needed”.
The decision, comes directly from the table of Arvind Krishna, the progenitor of the “Red Hat” deal, who later took on the role of the company’s Chief Executive Officer (CEO) earlier this year. The Indian American executive made the announcement in a letter to the Congress, where he said that the company will stop offering facial recognition software and opposes any use of such technology for purposes of mass surveillance and racial profiling.
He also asked for reforms in the police system, and “new efforts to pursue justice and racial equity.” He made a plea for new federal rules, which would hold the police personnel accountable for their actions.
However, there might be another side to this story. CNBC reported that IBM’s facial recognition business wasn’t generating enough revenue and was on the decline. This could be another major reason for IBM shutting shop, with the ‘protests’ being a golden opportunity to save face. Moreover, the company was reportedly laying off thousands of employees .
Krishna conveniently did not explain the timing of the decision to exit facial recognition development, but said, “now is the time to begin a national dialogue on whether and how facial recognition technology should be employed by domestic law enforcement agencies.”
USA has been seeing mass, nationwide protests, with riots erupting in many parts. The death of George Floyd, an African American, has caused people to appear on the street and demand reforms in the policing system. Government officials across the country have suggested reforms, but as of yet, no concrete solution has been reached. President Donald Trump has deployed the National Guard to control the situation in multiple districts, but there seems no end in sight.